Google is knuckling down in its efforts to woo enterprises to it cloud-based offerings.
The search giant today announced Google App Engine for Business, a more enterprise-oriented version of the original App Engine that's been used mainly for consumer applications. App Engine provides a complete development environment for companies to build and host applications on Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) own scalable cloud infrastructure.
Google also announced an alliance with virtualization kingpin VMware (NYSE: VMW) designed to help companies more easily migrate and deploy cloud-based apps of their choosing. The news comes after rival Microsoft's release earlier this month of its Office 2010 suite, which gives users the option of using the best-selling software suite in the cloud.
Google's most recent move to broaden the enterprise appeal of its cloud-based offerings came with the release of the Apps Marketplace in March. The online storefront lets third-party developers integrate their applications with other Google apps and also market their applications to Google Apps customers.
The next step, Google App Engine for Business, is set to be unveiled today at the company's Google I/O conference. Focused on the enterprise developer, App Engine for Business adds a number of features including a centralized management console that lets IT control and manage the distribution of applications and a 99.9 percent Service Level Agreement (SLA) along with other support options.
For App Engine, the new development is similar to the evolution of other Google services such as Gmail, which started as consumer applications but later grew to include enterprise versions.
"What we heard loud and clear from companies is 'I love Gmail and Calendar, but I need more to run my business,'" Eric Tholome, a director of product management at Google, told InternetNews.com.
Tholome touted the simplified pricing for App Engine for Business, its "push-button distribution" and its cost-savings features that only charges when the applications are used. The cost is $8 per month, per user, for each application and is capped at a maximum of $1,000 per application, per month. The cap would be of particular benefit to large organizations where hundreds or thousands of users might use the same application. For example, if a company had a thousand users of one application deployed on App Engine, the monthly total cost would top out at $1,000 -- not $8,000.
"And if no one uses the application in a given month, you don't pay anything," Tholome added.
For now, Google is only releasing a Preview edition of App Engine for Business that Tholome said is ready for customers to test and try out.
"We want to be transparent and give enterprise customers visibility into where we're going," Tholome said.
The complete, finished version of App Engine for Business that will include dedicated SQL servers available for applications, is slated to be available later this year, he added.
VMware CEO Paul Maritz is scheduled to take the stage Wednesday at Google I/O to announce the partnership with Google.
Specifically, Google is announcing support for VMware's Spring Java apps on Google App Engine in what the two companies said is a shared vision of services that make it easier to build, run and manage applications across different cloud computing systems. The partnership is designed to give developers the option of deploying applications in VMware's vSphere environment or other VMware vCloud partner clouds, or directly to Google App Engine.
In addition, VMware and Google said they are working jointly on combining Spring Roo, a next-generation rapid application development tool, with Google's Web Toolkit (GWT) for building rich browser applications. The companies said that these GWT-powered applications can leverage advanced browser technologies like Ajax and HTML5 to create more compelling end-user experiences on a range of computing devices from smartphones to desktops.
"VMware and Google are aligning to reassure our mutual customers and the Java community that choice and portability is of utmost importance to both companies," Maritz said in a statement. "We will work to ensure that modern applications can run smoothly within the firewalls of a company's data center or out in the public cloud environment."
Tholome said Google and its Silicon Valley neighbor VMware started talking about collaborating back in November. "We tried to find a partner with the same philosophy of openness and it turned out we didn't have to look very far," he said.
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