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Google platform cloud now takes PHP apps

Google closes gap with cloud competitors

Google I/O Google is adding PHP to Google App Engine as the company tries to appeal to developers of the widely-used language.

The addition was announced on Wednesday at Google's developer jamboree Google I/O. It means GAE now supports three widely used web languages – Python, Java, and PHP – and Go, a Google-sponsored language designed for apps with massive scale.

App Engine "has thriving communities around Python, Java, Go, but it's missing one of the most popular languages on the web, one that powers three quarters of all websites - starting today PHP devs can get the benefits of App Engine," Google's senior veep of technical infrastructure Urs Hölzle, said.

"This isn't like your existing PHP stack. We patch it and manage it for you. Because its GAE, if your site gets no traffic it costs you nothing but if your site gets a lot of traffic we can scale it up fast."

App Engine is Google's platform-as-a-service and competes with Windows Azure, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS-based Heroku and Engine Yard, App Fog, and others.

Azure, Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku and, as of Tuesday Engine Yard, all also support PHP. But Google's infrastructure is profoundly different to those of Microsoft and Amazon, and has some performance advantages specifically relating to latency and stability of stored data.

But adoption of platform-as-a-service technology has been muted, with infrastructure-as-a-service typically taking in more developer spend. This, we believe, is because developers would rather write apps within an environment that they have control over, rather than within a prescribed stack set by a vendor.

To deal with issues like this, Google introduced another major technical change to App Engine on Wednesday via a beta of 'App Engine Servers', which let developers partition app engine apps into components with "separate scaling, deployments, versioning, and performance settings," Google announced in a blog post discussing major cloud changes.

This adds some of the independent performance properties of IaaS clouds into Google's PaaS and we expect this will do away with some concerns developers have over using the platform tech.

It should be noted that when PaaS's have problems they can be hard to diagnose – Heroku, for instance, had a problem with its performance monitoring technology that meant some companies were overpaying for cloud services – while all third-party platform's like App Fog, Heroku, Engine Yard, and so on, are vulnerable to failures in their infrastructure provider.

As GAE is an exposed version of Google's internal infrastructure, it benefits from the uptime properties of Google's global infrastructure footprint, but as a multinational technology conglomerate, Google may not have as much focus on the development of GAE as other smaller, more focused providers. ®

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