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Google App Engine: Amazon killer or ‘Geocities 2.0′?

We’ve been awaiting big enterprise news from Google for a few weeks now, and last night we finally got some.

The Google App Engine is a free, hosted Web development platform that will let businesses and organizations build and run Web applications on Google infrastructure. It’s being mentioned in the, ahem, blogosphere (I hate using that word) as new competition for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and even But there’s some skepticism, too.

GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbotham notes that making the Google App Engine available for free “will come at a cost to Google in terms of its margins. … It also will have a ways to go before it can compete with the 330,000 developers Amazon says are using its Web Services as of January.”

One of her readers, “Chetan,” doesn’t think that will ever happen: “Amazon is an equally tough company when it comes to technology. They hold a dozen patents on AWS and they’ll punch in Google’s face if required.”

At first, the Google App Engine will utilize only the Python programming language. (That’s what Google uses internally.) Developers responding to TechCrunch’s coverage of the announcement say the Python-only restriction will hinder the platform’s growth. One reader, “Tom,” even comes up with this slogan for the Google App Engine: “Geocities 2.0, now with Python!” Ouch.

Our coverage of Google’s major, impending announcement focused on rumors of an on-premise email appliance that would compete with Microsoft Exchange. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see when and if that comes to fruition. For now, the Mountain View crew is still focusing on its bread and butter, the online services market.

But fear not, the Microsoft vs. Google angle is still alive and well. Author Nicholas Carr ends his blog post on the Google App Engine with two simple words: “Where’s Microsoft?

And Mary Jo Foley, who’s not into the whole brevity thing, devotes an entire post to answering that question. She points out that the Google App Engine may compete with Microsoft’s SQL Server Data Services — if Microsoft ever gets around to explaining exactly what that is. Microsoft is also working on BizTalk Services and has a beta version of its Synchronization Framework, which could also tie into their anti-Google strategy.

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