While it is undeniably a cloud-hosting platform, Google’s AppEngine is very different from the clouds hosted by Amazon and Rackspace. But thanks to collaboration with VMware and a relentless pursuit of a simpler deployment model, the Google cloud is making waves with businesses now that the service includes some basic enterprise necessities, and more such features are coming soon.

Fred Sauer, developer advocate for Google AppEngine, said that the big shift toward businesses came in May. “We’re filling in the details of our announcement earlier this year on AppEngine for business. We’re doing things like providing service-level agreements, and adding a new pricing model for businesses with internal applications for more predictable pricing.

“One of the big things everyone has been asking for is new SQL support. They want a relational SQL database on AppEngine, so you can better leverage those existing skill sets that really assume relational databases. That’s the area we’re seeing the most interest right now.”

Sauer said that the fundamental differences between AppEngine and other clouds come from an intentional focus on the developers’ needs. “It’s a very different model, and we made a very conscious choice on our part to make it that model. We looked at how external developers deploy, and it’s much too difficult to deploy applications to the cloud,” he said.

“When you look across many different projects and you look at creating a database server, configuring log files, rolling restarts and pushing out binary code, these are all things most projects could do with the same kind of code and instructions. But these pieces get reinvented with every project.

“What’s valuable for developers is building the application logic. With AppEngine, we had a very clear goal of making it extremely easy to deploy applications. We asked, ‘What’s the absolute minimum a developer should have to do to get an application up and running?’ ”

That means AppEngine tries to handle most of the cloudy features behind the scenes. “If you go to an administration console, what you won’t find is probably more interesting than what you do find,” Sauer said.

“You won’t find any knobs for the number of servers you want to run. The more data you put into AppEngine, the more distributed that data becomes. The more requests that come in, the more servers we have running. When those requests die off, we re-provision those servers for others.”

The future of AppEngine isn’t all about business features, said Sauer. Currently, the team is working on integrating a new application known as The Mapper. The Mapper is a user-space implementation of map/reduce, and when embedded into an application, it gives developers access to the ability to very quickly process large sets of data, like the Google search engine and Hadoop.

Additionally, the AppEngine team is working to support the many languages that run on top of the JVM. Currently, said Sauer, Clojure, Ruby and Scala work on the AppEngine JVM, but only in a beta form. He said that work is progressing to support these languages on the same first-class level as Java and Python.