Google App Engine's Datastore Falters Under Demand

Two weeks after announcing a business version of its Google App Engine application building and hosting service, Google is acknowledging that the performance of the product's datastore has been chronically deficient for weeks.

To make up for the recent string of outages, slowdowns and errors, Google is waiving datastore CPU costs retroactively effective to the May 31 bill and until further notice.

The datastore problems, which have rippled out to other App Engine components, have been caused by the platform's growth, which has outpaced server capacity, Google said in a blog post on Wednesday.

"There are a lot of different reasons for the problems over the last few weeks, but at the root of all of them is ultimately growing pains. Our service has grown 25 percent every two months for the past six months," the blog post reads.

Google is scrambling to build up the service's infrastructure to stamp out the issue, but performance is expected to remain rocky for the next two weeks, the company said.

The situation is ironic because Google App Engine is a cloud-based application development and hosting platform created so that developers could focus on building applications without having to worry about garden-variety computing issues, such as server problems.

As with other cloud services, App Engine's selling point is that the vendor, in this case Google, is better equipped to handle IT infrastructure tasks than most if not all potential clients and thus should be entrusted with handling tasks like hardware provisioning and software maintenance.

In short, the main promise of providers of cloud-based platforms and services is that their customers will not need to worry about IT infrastructure breakdowns, certainly not chronic ones lasting weeks, as is the case here.

The problems come at a particularly bad moment because Google made a big splash at its I/O developer conference in mid-May with the announcement of an App Engine version for corporations.

That new version, called App Engine for Business, is in limited preview but Google hopes to make it more broadly available later this year.

The regular version of Google App Engine debuted about two years ago and is intended primarily for developers of consumer Web applications.

App Engine for Business, aimed at corporate developers creating in-house applications for their companies, will have features that IT departments typically need, such as an IT administration console, a 99.9 percent uptime service-level guarantee and technical support.

Clearly, Google will need to get the platform's performance problems under control in order to earn the trust of potential customers in enterprise IT departments for App Engine for Business.

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