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Google's First Cloud Initiative

Google on Monday finally made good on all the talk about cloud computing with Google App Engine, a hosting tool that lets developers store, serve, build, and grow their applications using Google resources. The idea is to let developers focus on scaling their projects instead of being tied down by the time-consuming system administration and maintenance that comes with configuring multiple machines to run their programs. Google App Engine takes care of all of that for developers, as their apps now live in the cloud.

The new beta package, which went live last night, is completely free to the first ten thousand developers, but it places limitations on storage, bandwidth and processing power. Once the project is out of beta, developers will be able to buy their way out of these limitations. Also, applications must be written in Python--one of many scripting languages for building Web programs--although Google claims this is just the first of many supported languages.

GigaOm's Stacey Higginbotham points out that Google Engine Apps could become the home for other platform development projects like OpenSocial and the Android-based Open Handset Alliance. She adds: "A place where developers could build applications that could work anywhere would be the holy grail"--for developers and for Google.

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