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Looking under the hood of the Google PaaS, App Engine

The Google PaaS, App Engine, lets businesses take a cloud-first approach to developing and managing web and mobile apps.

Google App Engine, part of the Google Cloud Platform, is the vendor's platform as a service on which developers build web and mobile applications. With App Engine, projects of any size can be scaled in real time with automatic, adaptive management by Google, and the vendor assumes responsibility for all server maintenance. Because of this, cloud-first startups generally prefer the Google PaaS, App Engine.

App Engine's built-in services include load balancing, health checks and application logging, as well as several APIs. Its user authentication API accommodates new and existing Google accounts and attaches unique identifiers to each in order to maintain visibility among teams. With search features in the style of the traditional Google search engine, users can access request logs and delegate tasks in a queue to monitor their progress. Requests can be routed through multiple app versions with A/B tests to allow incremental monitoring and rollouts of new features.

Other signature features of the Google PaaS provide several varieties of data storage and configuration: Google Cloud SQL is a cloud-based system that offers user-configured data storage, while the NoSQL data store features a data-modeling API. App Engine's primary storage tool, Memcache, offers both shared and dedicated pools that are dependent on customers' licensing choices.

Additionally, Google Cloud Platform customers have free access to its Cloud Security Scanner, which automatically scans and detects common issues, including cross-site scripting, flash injection and mixed content, and it also monitors library vulnerabilities. During security checks, users can define specific areas of an App Engine project and launch immediate or scheduled checkups to regulate the scope and boundaries of each test.

The languages supported by Google's PaaS

App Engine's Standard Environment option offers support for the languages Java, Python, PHP and Go, while the Flexible Environment, in beta, supports Ruby, Node.js and other languages through customizable runtimes. The service integrates with common tools, such as Eclipse, IntelliJ, Maven, Git, Jenkins and PyCharm, and it offers real-time scaling.

How much does the Google PaaS cost?

Prospective customers have the option to select free or paid versions of the App Engine. The free edition permits 28 instance hours, 5 GB of cloud storage, free usage of Memcache's shared pool, 1,000 basic search operations, 100 recipients in the email API and support for 5 GB in the task queue.

Above the per-day limits of the free edition, the paid edition offers unlimited instance hours at $0.05 per instance, per hour; memory at $0.0071 per gigabyte, per hour; persistent disk for $0.04 per gigabyte, per month; unlimited cloud storage at $0.026 per gigabyte, per month; free usage of Memchache's shared pool, as well as access to a dedicated pool for $0.06 per gigabyte per hour; and searches priced at $0.50 per 10,000 searches. Email API recipient pricing is variable, and Google invites users to contact the sales department for quotes.

Google PaaS pricing
App Engine's Flexible Environment pricing plans

Support for the Google PaaS is available in several tiers. The Bronze package is free and includes billing support, access to the online support center, and access to tutorial documents and developer communities. Bronze customers can request support through an online form, while the paid support packages are all ticket-based. The Silver package, priced at $150 per month, includes all Bronze features, as well as best-practice architecture support, a target response time of four business hours for critical issues and access to the Google Cloud Support Center for two individuals.

The Gold package, which starts at $400 per month, includes all Silver features, as well as use-case-specific architecture support, break-fix tickets, a targeted response time of one business hour, consultative tickets, phone support, 24/7 support for critical impact issues and access to the Google Cloud Support Center for up to five individuals. Exact Gold package pricing can be determined through a fee schedule, where the cost rises proportionally with the rise of product usage percentage.

The Platinum package -- used for high-volume production services on Google Cloud Platform -- adds unlimited access to the Google Cloud Support Center, a target response time of 15 minutes, 24/7 support for both critical- and high-impact issues, and access to the Strategic Customer Engineering team. Pricing information is available through Google's sales department.

Next Steps

With G Suite, Google rebrands with an eye toward the enterprise

See how containers have helped PaaS technology evolve

Explore the many options that Google Cloud Platform offers

This was last published in March 2017

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