Building a solid analytics platform is often a combination of real-time and batch processing. Batch processing, with a tool like Hadoop, is great for digging into large amounts of past data and asking questions that cannot be anticipated. In contrast, when it is known ahead of time that certain aggregates will be required, the best solution is usually to count each event as it happens. Livecount makes it easier to address this second use-case.
Google AppEngine is a great tool for building simple web applications which are automatically scalable. All of the basic building blocks are readily available and accessible from both python and java. This includes a database, a caching layer, and support for background tasks.
What about the big data analytics and informatics that made Google famous? Does AppEngine help us there as well? The answer is yes; although with some serious limitations.
A few thoughts from my first test of Google App Engine.
My goal was to put up a prototype java web app for pushing email alerts based on RSS content (more to come on the full idea). Unfortunately, it took much longer than I expected to get things going (longer than my web app protoype took to write) – leaving me feeling a bit disappointed. On the up side, the app has been running quite well for about a week now.