Watching the cloud

Google App Engine is an infrastructure to deliver applications through Google’s cloud. You can drop applications written in Python in it, and let Google do the hosting. I am setting up a business based on this (GriddleJuiz).

So the first obvious questions are: where is the cloud, and does it perform? With the help of my friends from Watchmouse I ran a test on one of my Google App Engine sites and compared it with a regularly hosted website. In the chart you can see some of the results: the time it takes to connect to the site from various places in the world.

The interesting observations are:

  1. Time to connect to the regular site increase with distance. We are measuring the speed of light here, sort of.
  2. The Google cloud is in more than one place. For example, it is close to the Netherlands, but it also has a presence in East Asia, near Hong Kong.
  3. The cloud is probably also close to North America, but it puzzles me why it is not nearer.
  4. The regular site is closer to monitoring station NL2, where the cloud is closer to NL4.
  5. Google does not guess correctly the location of some WM monitoring stations. E.g. DK (Danmark) is way off, and might as well be in North America. This is a common misconception among Americans 🙂

These results are pretty reproducible by the way. We have done measurements over several 24 hour cycles. The next interesting thing of course is raw performance: how many hits/second can it pull? Stay tuned for more results.

Google has solved the hard part of scalable application infrastructure: duplication over a large distance. If you can do that, you can deploy any number of servers. Yet, there appears to be a lot of work left, the cloud does not always guess correctly where the user is.

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