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Google App Engine Gets Tune-Up

A new version of App Engine has been released, promising multi-tenant apps, faster image serving, and expanded quotas.

Google introduced version 1.3.6 of App Engine on Tuesday, an update that adds new features to the cloud computing service and more generous quotas.

Foremost among the changes is support for multi-tenant apps. Multi-tenancy means that applications can segregate data for different customers in a unique namespace, using the Namespaces API.

"This allows you to easily serve the same app to multiple different customers, with each customer seeing [his or her] own unique copy of the app," Google's App Engine team explains in a blog post.

The latest iteration of App Engine also offers improved performance when serving image files.

The high-performance image serving system is based on the infrastructure Google uses to run Picasa, the company's free image hosting service. It allows developers to store a single copy of an image and then serve cropped and re-sized variants without incurring CPU usage fees for those operations. Bandwidth charges remain, however.

App Engine can also now serve custom error pages for times when apps exceed quotas, face DoS or timeout situations, or other circumstances that cause errors.

Google is relaxing some of the quotas that have been in place since App Engine's 2008 launch.

"The Datastore no longer enforces a 1000 entity limit on count and offset [operations]," the App Engine team said. "Queries using these will now safely execute until they return or your application reaches the request timeout limit."

Also, burst quotas for free apps are now more in line with burst quotas for billed apps.

Other new features are described in Google's blog post.

In June, Google suspended some App Engine charges following service troubles that the company attributed to rapid growth. At the end of July, Google said it had resolved those issues.

Competing cloud application platforms include Amazon Web Services, Heroku, Microsoft's Windows Azure Platform, and's

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