A lot has been said about the new Google App Engine that was announced today. Here are some thoughts that I have been having about it.
1. It makes a lot of annoying stuff really simple. From pushing code live, to managing what version of your code is running live, to collecting usage stats, to setting up and managing the systems (not to mention a setup that is inherently very scalable). I think a lot of people are overlooking how big this really is. The barrier to entry and time from idea to proof of concept has just decreased dramatically.
2. It makes what is incredibly difficult now attainable for the average developer. Making a scalable web application is no easy task. It will still take some work, but will at least be within the reach of a lot more developers now.
3. It is free. Sure I might at some point go over the limits, but as a developer that is a problem that I would love to have. That would mean that I am developing something that people are really using and enjoying. Since it is already on the Google infrastructure, I can spend my time figuring out how to make money rather than spend my time (and a lot more money) figuring out how to make that app now scale that has suddenly gotten popular. I would much rather be on that side of the fence.
4. It's alpha. Come on guys, cut them some slack. There is already a lot of complaining about what it can't do, but if you read their docs, you will find that most of those things are being worked on, and they are openly soliciting developer comments to see what is needed most.
5. Yes there are limitations. But I see those limitations more of a blessing than a curse. It is those same limits that help your app to scale, and prevent you from making mistakes that make scaling more difficult. Sure you might have to think a little differently when designing the app, but then again, you are going to have to do that sooner or later anyways if you want to make your app scale.
Unfortunately I didn't make the first 10,000 developer cut to get an account, but I anxiously await my chance to play around with it.