I like Silicon Alley Insider’s take on Google App Engine, and I agree. The implementation is distinctly different than AWS; it’s more designed to allow quick, scalable, lightweight application development leveraging Google’s infrastructure. It imposes constraints on the developer, but in turn really gives them a leg up, making things like authentication, interop with other Google components, etc. almost transparent. Definitely more of a direct Facebook competitor than a AWS one (though at least indirectly, it does compete with any cloud-based system).
Don’t get me wrong…I think App Engine is a Very Big Deal. I do, however, agree with SAI that the initial blogosphere focus was on the wrong comparisons. Thanks to Silicon Alley Insider for some cogent analysis here. The article is definitely worth giving a twice-over.