James Hamilton's Comparison Google Application Engine vs. Amazon Web Services

James Hamilton attended the Google IO conference and posts his comparison of Google Application Engine (GAE) vs. Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Last week at Google IO, pricing was announced for Google Application Engine. Actually it was blogged the night before at: http://googleappengine.blogspot.com/2008/05/announcing-open-signups-expected.html.

The prices are close to identical with Amazon AWS although GAE differs substantially from the AWS offerings.  The former offers a easy to use Python  execution environment whereas Amazon offers the infinitely flexible run-this-virtual-machine model. Clearly the Amazon model costs more to provide so, by that measure, AWS pricing is somewhat better:

Google Application Engine Pricing:

· $0.10 - $0.12 per CPU core-hour

· $0.15 - $0.18 per GB-month of storage

· $0.11 - $0.13 per GB outgoing bandwidth

· $0.09 - $0.11 per GB incoming bandwidth

· From: http://googleappengine.blogspot.com/2008/05/announcing-open-signups-expected.html

Compared with AWS Pricing:

· $0.10 - $0.80 per VM hour (depending upon resources allocated)

· $0.15 per GB-month of storage

· $0.100 - $0.170 per GB outgoing bandwidth

· $0.100 per GB incoming bandwidth

· From: http://www.amazon.com/S3-AWS-home-page-Money/b/ref=sc_fe_l_2?ie=UTF8&node=16427261&no=3435361&me=A36L942TSJ2AJA and http://www.amazon.com/EC2-AWS-Service-Pricing/b/ref=sc_fe_l_2?ie=UTF8&node=201590011&no=3435361&me=A36L942TSJ2AJA.

There are some important differences that make the pricing comparison somewhat biased in a couple of ways. Two important differences: 1) as mentioned above, Amazon gives an entire virtual machine so EC2 is much more flexible than GAE both in that it can run arbitrary applications in arbitrary languages and that it supports all execution models whereas GAE only supports HTTP request/response.  Another key difference is the storage subsystem.  In the numbers above, we’re comparing the Amazon blob store (S3) with the more structured storage model offered by GAE.  The more comparable AWS SimpleDB pricing is considerably higher than the GAE storage pricing. SimpleDB charges $1.50 GB/month in addition to machine usage and network transmission costs.  GAE is offering much more affordable semi-structured storage and the GAE storage model actually supports data types rather than having to force everything to character format.

And, James makes a good point about the Amazon as a retailer vs. google.  Amazon understands as any good retailer, Wal-mart, Costco - the pennies added up, and are important given your low margins.

GAE is still free to start with under 5M page views/month and up to ½ GB storage for free.  Obviously this helps developers get started without strings and that’s a good thing. But, more importantly, it avoids Google from having to go to the expense of billing very small values.  In a weird sort of way, I’m more impressed with AWS billing $0.04 on some accounts in that it shows there billing system is incredibly lean. Scaling down billing is hard, hard, hard.