Cloud Computing Service – Amazon EC2 vs Google GAE

Cloud Computing Service
  1. Service provider with large number of networked computer systems
  2. Allowing you to use a slice of that processing power and storage
  3. Shielding your program and data from others sharing the same service, and
  4. Charging you for your actual usage
Value Proposition of Cloud Computing
  • Elastic Capacity – Pay for what you actually use
  • Economy of Scale – Of hardware, Infrastructure and Management

Comparison between Amazon EC2 and Google GAE

[Detailed comparison of cost – Cloud Economics – A Platform Comparison]

Though different cloud service providers are following different strategies, these are the two uniquely different approaches. Others either are similar to one of these or fall somewhere in between.

I have excluded SaaS from this discussion – you can see the comparison between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS on this post on Cloud Strategy.

Amazon EC2 (Elastic Computing Cloud) Google GAE (Google App Engine)
Base Technology Virtualization Existing Google infrastructure
Unit of Scalability Dynamically instantiated virtual machines Every transactions initiated by user

Every scheduled or queued task

Persistence Reserved Virtual Machine using standard RDBMS By directly persisting objects on to Google BigTable

No need for any object-relational mapping

Software License All software license required

OS, RDBMS, Web Server, App Server …

Behaves like a Service Bus of infinite capacity

Application code can be directly deployed

Readiness Reasonably mature

Can be viewed as an extension to existing hosting services

Very much in Beta

Will take couple of years to mature

Best for … Application requiring heavy processing power for short duration Startups wanting to start free and have the ability to scale when the venture succeed
Economics Saving potential of 30-70% for the right type of application Not clear

However, it can be an order of magnitude improvement

Innovativeness Incremental Potentially Disruptive

Why is GAE potentially disruptive?

  • Over the last decade, Google has build a huge cloud infrastructure for its search and other services
  • The infrastructure has been build using very cost effective hardware
  • Fault tolerance is designed into the architecture
  • They have perfected technologies and algorithms like MapReduce and BigTable created for such infrastructure
  • It is highly scalable

Their economy of scale will be difficult to match.

What about Microsoft – they are constrained by the fact that they have to defend their desktop business – which will prevent them from following optimal cloud strategy!


20 Responses to “Cloud Computing Service – Amazon EC2 vs Google GAE”
  1. Hi Udayan,

    Just came across this comparison of yours between Amazon EC2 and Google App Engine. I know its dated but its a great article. Wanted to know if you’d like to update this post and feature it on A project we’ve started to house all the best product comparisons on the web under one roof. You can back-link to this original article of course. Check it out, and if you’re interested, I will send you an invite.

    Akshay Arabolu, Founder

  2. Glenn says:

    Your comparison is still relevant; however, here are a few updates for you.

    Amazon also offers a BigTable like database API called SimpleDB.

    There is no longer the need to choose one cloud vendor over the other. In fact, you don’t even have to commit to cloud vs traditional data center. For example ( see ) Java developers can write to JDO which is plug compatible with GAE, EC2, MySql, MS SQL Server, Oracle, PostGreSql, DB2, etc. Hosting environment once again becomes a run-time configuration option.

    • Jan Zawadzki says:

      Glenn, you’re mixing the language/library with the architecture.

      There is a massive difference in how you architect a solution for the GAE vs. Azure or EC2.

      Library-level compatibility allows you to reuse components – which is indeed great, and goes some way towards platform independence, but we’re not there, by a long shot.

      The reality still is that you had better have some pretty good idea of where your code will run before you start writing (or porting).

      (Disclosure: we have commercial applications running in GAE and EC2 today)

  3. Samantha says:

    Nice blog, i like it, its informative,
    i will visit his blog more often.
    i like your article specially about
    Cloud Computing Service – Amazon EC2 vs Google GAE


  4. jvdkamp says:

    Nice comparison, the next few months I will be taking a look at GAE. For now I think that GAE is a great product for start up companies. Cloud computing still gives me a feeling of uncontrollability. EC2 gives me a better feeling than GAE, but if that is true I don’t know. The future will tell.

  5. Udayan,

    We are PaaS development platform and we use GAE as a PaaS delivery platform. Hence, I can really appreciate teh real good work you have done on the comparison table. Congrats.

    BTW, I have heard that NIIT had a ‘App Development’ type product. Looking at your NIIT background I was wondering whether you were connected to it. Just curios.


    • Udayan Banerjee says:

      Yes – we did have a platform which could generate complete application code for both Java & .Net. Unfortunately, the code generator had to be upgrated comtiniously to keep pace with changing technology. The whole process did not prove to be economically viable.

      How do I learn more about your platform?

      • Udayan,

        I can organize a demo for you end of this week. Please let me know a date / time that works for you. Also pls write to me suresh.sambandam “at”


  6. Saqib Ali says:

    Cloud Computing is a hot topic these days. The key benefit of a true Cloud Platform (SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS) is, off course, the seamless recovery at the transactional level.

    While Google Apps Engine promises extremely high-availability at a very low cost, moving existing RDBMS powered apps to the Google Apps Engine will not be an easy task – there is no concept of RDBMS in the Google Apps Engine world.

    Google Secure Data Connector (SDC) allows applications running on Google App Engine (in Cloud) access to RDBMS behind a firewall.

    Things to consider:

    1. Apps that you develop in Google App Engine cannot directly talk to the Databases behind a firewall.

    2. Google App Engine does not support regular SQL (RDBMS) queries. You need to install Feed Server behind the firewall that converts the query result sets to ATOM (googleData format). The SDC then talks to the Feed Server. The applications running on the App Engine talk to the SDC.

    3. This is an excellent architecture, as it provides multiple levels of security – at the DB Level, at the Feed server level, and at the Secure Data Connector Level. And most importantly No firewall re-configuration required.

    Having said this, I don’t see existing RDBMS applications moving to Google App Engine anytime soon. There is a lot of re-work involved. But for future (new) applications based on an existing RDBMS, Google App Engine with Secure Data Connector should be considered an option.

    Merge-join, Lists and fuzzy query are some of keys benefits of Google Apps Engine.

    • Saqib,

      I really don’t whether not having RDBMS in GAE should be seen as a issue. RDBMS are good for enterprise computing loads and their architecture is broken for web scale computing. Especially when you implement a stateless architecture (ReST) the scalability of RDBMS goes north. BigTable is designed for web scale and works great for stateless architecture. GAE/BigTable should be seen as a solution not as a problem I would argue. Look forward to your views. :-)!


      • Saqib Ali says:

        Hi Suresh,

        I certainly didn’t mean to say that lack of RDBMS in google apps engine is an issue. However the lack of SQL in the google apps engine makes the transition of *existing* applications to the google cloud problematic – especially if you want to query an in-house DB.

        For new applications, big table is the way to go 🙂


  7. Jan Zawadzki says:

    Great post! One other point to add to your comparison: the GAE is a natural host for code touching Google Apps domains.

    I bet that popularity of GAE will be driven the success of Google Apps, and the need for add-on functionality that integrates well and integrates seamlessly.



Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Cloud Computing Service – Amazon Ec2 vs. Google GAE (Nov, 2009) […]

  2. […] has lost its distinctivenessI had earlier thought the GAE was potentially disruptive – but I was […]

  3. […] In one sense, cloud is just an extension of virtualized hosting solution but 3 distinct cloud strategies are in vogue. However, do look at Google App Engine – though it is still work in progress – it has the potential of altering the economics of IT. […]

  4. […] is our expectation from cloud computing? As I had stated earlier, it is all about cost saving … (1) through elastic capacity and (2) through economy of scale. So, […]

  5. […] In one sense, cloud is just an extension of virtualized hosting solution but 3 distinct cloud strategies are in vogue. However, do look at Google App Engine – though it is still work in progress – it has the potential of altering the economics of IT. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: