Google’s Compute Engine service is just one of a number of competitors to Amazon as a public cloud provider. However, the resources that it brings to this battle are formidable.

Google is already moving quickly to become a serious player. Its relatively new App Engine is coming on strong as a PaaS for developers to build applications on top of. By having these two parts of the stack, Google is now in the camp of big players, free to keep working to attack higher levels of the stack. This gives it a leg up on some other companies like Salesforce, which have been players in the cloud for sometime.

Salesforce, for example, doesn’t offer underlying cloud infrastructure even though it has great traction with PaaS (Salesforce’s Heroku), SaaS (, and other platforms-as-a-service ( and This means Google is well placed to onramp enterprise companies and other developers early on in the lifecycle and then continue to upgrade customers to other of its services as it builds them out.

Google is making a steady string of announcements, including most recently offering load-balancing, and enhancements to its Cloud Data Store, a standalone NoSQL-based service for storing nonrelational data.

Last month, Google also started letting developers use PHP on App Engine, a significant move considering that PHP is one of the web’s most popular languages.  It means companies will be able to use Google to run their enterprise-scale big data backends (Google is moving forward here with MapReduce, BigTable, and BigQuery) and, yes, consumer web projects, all in the PHP language that is increasingly finding use among corporations.

Google has worked hard to counter fears from developers that betting on Google’s platform will “lock in” companies, something that has dogged Salesforce. Google engineer Peter Magnusson does a good job explaining the steps Google has taken to calm this fear.

However, here’s Google’s challenge: It remains an advertising company at its core, not well positioned to sell to enterprise. Google will have to go to considerable lengths to convince enterprise users of its seriousness. Some skeptics see Google’s moves to date more driven by its need to bolster Android as the leading mobile OS and thus to capture mobile developers as early as possible in the cycle.

If you’ve used Google’s cloud products, please let us know what you think, and get our free full report when it is released next month.