Google App Engine inches closer to ful-blown cloud platform

Google’s cloud hosting and compute platform, the Google App Engine, has received a major update in the past few days allowing for some significant changes to applications running on the platform. While competing with Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Windows Azure platforms, Google App Engine has always lagged a little behind in that while it provides greater flexibility for running code, it has been more limiting in the amount of data and processing that can be done at a given time. Now that is starting to change.

The App Engine SDK version 1.4.0, the fresh release, includes a number of features designed to expand the range of web applications that may be built and hosted on App Engine. Previously, background processes (Cron or Task Queue) were limited to a maximum execution time of 30 seconds. This has been upped to 10 minutes, allowing more processing to be completed for each item. Additionally, API calls have had a major bump in maximum size,with responses now up to 32MB from 1MB.

There are also some more cloud-based features including a channel API for streaming content to and from a client using “Comet” HTTP technology. The Always On feature allows you to purchase 3 instances for an application to remain active even if the app gets no traffic (at a cost of $9 per month per application), and Warm Up Requests which anticipates the need for additional instances and warms them up ready for them to serve requests, allowing you to deal with traffic more effectively.

More on all of these developments and more on the App Engine blog, the docs, or the Google IO presentation on the subject.

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