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Google offers new App Engine features to chase after Amazon's cloud computing dominance

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PHP support and a new storage solution strengthen Google's hand

google app engine
google app engine

In the market for cloud infrastructure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominates, powering websites and applications like Netflix, Reddit, and Dropbox, and raking in massive revenues — estimated to grow to $8.8 billion this year. But there are lots of players, ranging from smaller companies like Rackspace to big ones like Microsoft. One such player is Google, which over the past five years has been working to let developers tap into its massive data center infrastructure, first with App Engine — a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for hosting web apps, and more recently with Compute Engine — a competitor to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) that lets you pay Google to do your heavy computing. Today, Google announced some significant updates to both, adding PHP support in App Engine, and opening up Compute Engine to every developer that wants to use it. It also announced Google Cloud Storage, which competes with Amazon’s Dynamo DB database solution.

Access to PHP is being rolled out over time

Google App Engine is similar to AWS, but it's a step more removed — infrastructure solutions like AWS require (allow) you to get your hands dirty administering your own servers, but Google’s option will take care of all of the optimization and scaling for you. Up until now, App Engine has only supported Java, Python, and the company’s own Go language, but today’s announcement adds PHP to the mix. As Ars Technica points out, that means that App Engine could now be used to host PHP applications like your WordPress blog. Access to PHP support is being rolled out over time, and is currently in limited preview.

Another big announcement for Google’s Cloud Platform today was expanded availability for Compute Engine. When it was announced last year, Google limited access to a small set of developers, but now the company is letting anyone that’s interested try the service out. It’s also adding one-minute increments for billing and increasing the size of the persistent disks that developers can access to 10TB, up from 1.25TB yesterday. Lastly, Google introduced Cloud Datastore — a direct competitor to Amazon’s Dynamo DB database platform. Taken together, the announcements amount to a strong push from Google to expand its burgeoning Cloud Platform business as the company continues to monetize the massive scale and efficiency it’s built up over the years, letting others pay to enjoy the benefits.