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Reflecting on our ten year App Engine journey

April 13, 2018
Max Ross

Director, GCP Engineering

Ten years ago, we announced Google App Engine with a simple video and a blog post. It is truly humbling to look back at the strides we have made with App Engine, how it’s changed application development, and inspired our customers to develop on the cloud and build their businesses on our platform.

As an early member of the engineering team, there are a few key memories that stand out from the early days. I remember the excitement of seeing the first App Engine app crack the 50 qps barrier, followed by the ensuing “uh oh” moment when we realized that it might keep growing. I remember the time someone wanted to acquire one of our hastily-developed demo apps, and also the team meeting shortly after launch when we decided to figure out a way to let customers pay us money. From those modest roots, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come and to see App Engine’s DNA throughout Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

A decade of digital transformation

Over the past decade, technology has had an impressive influence on our everyday lives—from mobile experiences and ML/ AI technologies, to blockchains and Quantum computing. Today, businesses reach their customers across a number of different web and mobile platforms, in real time.

This fundamental shift in technology means that application developers have a completely different set of requirements today than they did ten years ago: agility, faster time to market, and zero overhead to name a few. Core App Engine concepts like serverless, zero server management, event-driven programming, and paying only for the resources you use are just as relevant today as they were 10 years ago. Businesses have moved away from owning infrastructure resources on-premises to running virtual machines on the cloud, freeing them from managing infrastructure and allowing them to focus on writing code.

How App Engine has evolved

We introduced App Engine with the goal of empowering developers to be more productive. With App Engine, you have the freedom to focus on building great applications, not managing them. That goal was just as important then as it is today.

App Engine and its associated noSQL storage system Datastore started out as a fully managed platform that let developers access the same building blocks that we use to run our own internal applications, and build applications that run reliably, even under heavy load, with large amounts of data at global scale. I want to highlight some of the key innovations that we’ve added to App Engine in the past decade. Click on the below interactive timeline to view some of the highlights:


App Engine Intro


Java on GAE


Gaming customers on GAE
Finance industry customers on GAE


William & Kate’s Royal wedding website on GAE
Cloud SQL intro


Go on GAE


More customers on GAE
Cloud Datastore launch


Cloud SQL & GAE PHP apps
Drupal on GAE


Digital marketing solutions on GAE


More customers
Stackdriver Error reporting for GAE


App Engine Flexible environment GA launch
Java 8 on GAE
Managed SSl certificates


App Engine HIPAA BAA compliant

Where we're headed from here

App Engine was one of the very first investments for GCP—a fully managed serverless platform before businesses really understood the concept of serverless. In ten years, we shipped a lot of features, learned countless lessons, empowered many businesses such as Best Buy, Idexx laboratories, and Khan Academy—and we’re not done yet! App Engine has an exciting future ahead. We’re working on new features, new runtimes and customer driven capabilities that we’re excited to share with you in the coming months. I’m sure the next ten years will be as exciting as the first ten.

If you haven’t already done so, try out App Engine today and share your feedback and comments with the team.

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