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Why doesn't Stack Overflow run on Google App Engine?

Since I don't have much knowledge in databases and web programming, I won't include the reasons to "why I think it could run on Google App Engine and cost much less to the developers". But I'll be glad to hear opinions!

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migrated from Dec 17 '10 at 19:05

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Got a .NET on JVM implementation you'd like to share? – Wooble Dec 17 '10 at 19:04
Because everyone knows Google doesn't run on Unicorns! – jcolebrand Dec 17 '10 at 19:53
@drachenstern, but it does supply them, of course! – Arjan Dec 19 '10 at 19:11

There was a recent blog post about using App Services:

It is important to note that these issues are by no means specific to Azure; similar teething issues affect other Platform-As-A-Service providers such as Google App Engine and Heroku. When you are using a PAAS you are giving up a lot of control to the service provider. The service provider chooses which applications you can run and imposes a series of restrictions.


At Stack Overflow we take pride in our servers. We spend weeks tweaking our hardware and software to ensure we get the best performance and in turn you, the end user, get the most awesome experience.

It was disorienting moving to a platform where we had no idea what kind of hardware was running our app. Giving up control of basic tools and processes we use to tune our environment was extremely painful.

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To start with, SO uses a platform (.NET) that App Engine doesn't support. There are other reasons it may be wrong for SO, including lack of an RDMS, lack of control, and cost (it's cheaper for some applications, but definitely not all).

It is right for other applications. I've written a Python web service using it.

It seems silly to second guess SO's decision now.

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There's nothing about SO that particularly requires an RDBMS. And do you have any examples of apps that are more expensive to run on App Engine than another platform? – Nick Johnson Dec 19 '10 at 23:58
@Nick, I didn't say it required a RDBMS. Strictly, nothing requires one. But SO obviously felt it fit their design. I don't want to rehash App Engine cost comparisons, since there are other questions about that. But one possible example would be bandwidth-bound applications. See this comparison. – Matthew Flaschen Dec 20 '10 at 6:49
I think your point (that one could certainly make up a theoretical applications that is cheaper to run on a dedicated server) is valid in general, but your second link doesn't go that far in supporting it, since it neglects things like how much you would need to over provision the non cloud solutions to ensure you could handle spikes in traffic. – Peter Dec 29 '10 at 19:36
@Peter, agreed, I haven't done a complete analysis. Over-provisioning is definitely something to consider. – Matthew Flaschen Dec 30 '10 at 0:12

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