Google is an OpenID provider now (and Google’s AppEngine)

So another big company now supports OpenID and this time it’s Google. Bad news is though that they are only a provider but not a consumer. When all those sites only are providers then of course the whole idea is kinda useless, so please open up!

The way they did it also seems interesting because the OpenID provider component seems to be done with the recently launched Google AppEngine. So it is an application which uses the AppEngine API to let the user login and provides an OpenID with it.

You can find it here

What is Google AppEngine anyway?

I am still trying to figure out what Google’s AppEngine actually is or means ;-) It was released at Monday’s Campfire One event and is a platform for developing and running applications with Google’s application engine.

The AppEngine environment seems more or less to be a sandbox in which you can run Python CGI programs which are WSGI-compliant. These programs are supposed to get a request from the outside, run for not more than a few seconds and deliver some response. What happens on the platform side is that these applications get distributed among various servers and are not (like on EC2) bound to a particular server. This has some limitations:

  • you cannot read or write to the filesystem
  • you cannot open a socket
  • you cannot use long-running processes

and some more.

To cope with that Google provides a runtime environment consisting of

  • some preinstalled components such as Django
  • a database called AppStore which you can use with an SQL dialect called GQL
  • an API for retrieving URLs
  • an API for sending mails

and some more stuff (like a WSGI-compliant web framework called webapp).

The downloadable SDK (which needs Python 2.5) includes all these components so you can develop your application on your machine and upload it later.

What does it mean?

With this release I think the scene for virtual servers will get more interesting. Right now the big player is Amazon with S3, EC2, SimpleDB and so on and with Google’s AppEngine there seems to be a serious competitor in this field. Of course the strategies differ here. While you get a full fledged system with EC2 (and dynamically as many as you would like) you can a sort of limited environment with Google. Google’s system on the other hand might be easier to use as you don’t have to deal with operating system like stuff.

The other question is of course if those applications need to be bound to the domain or if you can use your own domain at some point (or maybe that’s even possible, haven’t read everything yet).

So definitely an interesting thing and esp. nice of course that it promotes Python :-)

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