Lately, I’ve been talking about Google trying to snuggle up to the enterprise. On Wednesday, Google coughed and threw its arm around the enterprise’s shoulder.

On the first day of the Google I/O conference in San Francisco, the company unveiled Google App Engine for Business. In the official announcement, Sean Lynch of the Google App Engine team stated:

“We launched Google App Engine two years ago to enable application developers to rapidly build and scale their apps on Google’s infrastructure, without having to worry about maintaining their own servers. Today, we’re excited to bring this platform to IT departments, with the announcement of Google App Engine for Business. Google App Engine for Business lets organizations build and maintain their applications on the same scalable architecture that powers Google applications, with added management and support features tailored specifically for the enterprise.”

In touting its new platform, Google cited the same story of IT departments being stuck spending most of their budgets on maintenance, which lots of enterprise vendors and CIOs are squawking about right now. Google even had VMware CEO Paul Maritz on stage to talk about how his company is working with Google to make an enterprise-ready cloud platform that can help businesses be faster and more nimble.

Google cited five features that CIOs and enterprises have been asking for that are now included in App Engine for Business:

  • Centralized administration
  • Reliability and support with an SLA
  • Security
  • Simplified pricing
  • Enterprise scalability

Google has not officially launched the product yet, but is previewing it to a limited group of companies. However, on Wednesday, Google did publish its roadmap for App Engine for Business.

Sanity check

While a lot of enterprises still scoff at the idea of cloud computing, a recent survey of over 1,500 global CIOs showed that cloud computing was their #2 priority for 2010. We’ve also seen the interest in cloud computing take a big jump on TechRepublic in the past 6-12 months.

For those IT leaders ready to explore cloud solutions to help break out of the rut of an IT budget dominated by too many legacy technologies and maintenance contracts, solutions such as Google App Engine for Business give them a shot at a clean slate, where they can pay for their IT infrastructure based on usage. The fact that Google has made the effort to see what enterprises need to make it work for them and added many of those features into the product roadmap will open this up as a possibility for

On the other hand, there’s also a computing vision that enterprise IT leaders should understand: the private cloud. That’s what EMC pitched to the IT world last week at EMC World. Google’s solution is what is now being called the “public cloud.”

My take is that traditional companies with a lot of legacy applications and stronger security and privacy concerns will be more drawn to the private cloud. Newer, high-growth companies that want a cleaner slate will be more interested in the public cloud. However, all IT professionals need to get very familiar with both options. You’ll be hearing a lot more about them.