Google App Engine versus Microsoft Azure

This is going to be a bit of a dangerous post, because I'm no expert in both. It's going to be like comparing:

  • Google versus Microsoft
  • Consumer versus Corporate
  • Personal versus Professional
  • Mac OS-X versus Windows
  • Simple versus Advanced
  • Convenience versus Sophistication
The reason for this post is feedback I received on the Keeping up with Technology post where I discussed a little hobby project on the Google App Engine. Some of my professional relations asked why I didn't build it on Microsoft Azure.
Disclosure: I work as Technology Director for Exact Software and I manage the technology part of our partnership with Microsoft. Microsoft delivers great technology that enables us to create value for our customers. This is also shown in the Windows 7 endorsement I recorded a few months ago.

A couple of months ago I actually started to develop something on Azure. It started like this, visit the Azure website looking for a getting started. There is a lot of information, but not really a step by step guide to get started. I figured out that I needed to register and thus I filled a couple of forms. After completion I received a message that I would get an answer within 24 hours. End of the project so far.

Since I wasn't satisfied I tried decided to try the Google App Engine instead. Go to the Google App Engine site and immediately found the Getting Started Guide. Just 2 small downloads for the SDK and Python and a text editor and I was in business. An hour later my 'hello world' application was up and running. This without any previous experience on Python and many stupid mistakes on case sensitive code. I felt good and was proud on the result.

The next day I hoped to receive my developer key for Azure so I could start comparing. Unfortunately no key arrived and I twittered about it. Someone from the Azure team noticed this and helped me out, good service, but I had to wait again for a day for a key.

Finally I got the key and started to explore Azure. On the Azure site I couldn't find a simple tutorial for a 'hello world' application. There are many advanced examples, but all too complex for me. Again Twitter came to rescue and quickly I received a link to a simple 'hello world' tutorial. Finally I could start to set up a developer environment. I already had Visual Studio installed, lucky me, but the developer environment also requires a local SQL server. A large download, a service pack and quite some time later I could finally start writing a few lines of code. Package the solution and deploy.

I haven't explored any of the differences in capabilities between Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine, but it's a clear case between convenience and sophistication.

When I decided to explore some of the cloud computing, the above memory was still in my mind. This combined with my preference of Mac OS-X over Windows 7 made the choice for the Google App Engine a simple one. A hobby is to relax and have fun!

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