Google App Engine SDK Release New Features

With Salesforce.com grabbing a lot of the Cloud Computing headlines over the last few weeks with its new releases, announcements and acquisition of Heroku, the news that Google have released Google App Engine SDK 1.4.0 was easily missed. I thought that I would highlight what this important release adds to the SDK as Google announced this was the most significant App Engine release of the year.

First I will address the improvements to existing API’s. Until now, background tasks run from Cron or Task Queue were limited to 30 seconds. This limit has been extended to 10 minutes. Many API calls also had 1MB size limits. These have been removed on the URLFetch API, being increased from 1MB to 32MB. The same size increases also apply to Memcache batch get/put operations and Image API requests. Outgoing attachments on the Mail API have increased from 1MB to 10MB. These changes are welcome improvements to existing API’s but its the new features that are really exciting.

Firstly, the Channel API enables a bi-directional channel that allows server side pushing of data to client side JavaScript. This mean there is no need to write JavaScript that polls the server side application looking for changes. Secondly, a new feature known as Always-On is provided. This is aimed at applications that have variable or low traffic levels. Without these features, Google may turn your app off if there is no traffic. When a new request arrives, there will be a delay as the application is loaded. Always on prevents this, reserving 3 machine instances that will never be turned off. This is a chargeable feature that costs $9 per month. Finally there is warm up requests which is a feature that anticipates your application requires more machine instances and will load them before sending the instances requests.

These new features are a welcome improvement to the Google App Engine Platform as a Service (PaaS). The competition in this area between major players such as Salesforce.com, VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat and Google amongst others is good news for developers. The platforms are becoming more an more powerful, feature rich and cost effective.

If you would like to know more about the Google App Engine and how it may benefit your organisation, or indeed about Cloud Computing in general, why not consider attending Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing course.

Chris

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