The Google App Engine Glass Ceiling

With the new billing arrangements, each and every paid GAE app costs at least $2.10 per week which is supposedly $9 per month ($9.125 by my calculation) regardless of quota usage. This cost does cover whatever quotas your app consumes and the regular free quotas are still “free”.

Now I have a GAE app that sends 70-80 emails per day where the free limit is 100. I’d gladly switch over to the paid side of GAE just to be sure that if it ever passes the 100 mark I don’t have any failed email requests but the price of that is 9$ per month. GAE is extremely expensive for apps that just barely brush the end of their free quotas. In order to actually use the $9 per month minimum I’d have to send out 3000 emails per day (at $0.0001 per email).

I don’t know if the free quota on email recipients is really low or if sending out an email is extremely cheap. Either way, GAE expects me to scale from 100 to 3000 while paying the price of 3000. Who knows if I’ll ever even reach that mark?

If google keeps with this plan, I’m probably never going to start another GAE app that has a chance to grow. Every time I have a chance of hitting the quota limits I have 2 choices:

  • Pay google and be screwed over for an indefinite amount of time until I reach the next landmark.
  • Migrate to a cheaper shared hosting option until I reach the next landmark.

Thanks, but no thanks. That’s the GAE glass ceiling.


  • Other than this problem I do like GAE. It’s a shame I have to leave it.
  • I’ve made about 11 small python GAE apps. Only 2 of which ever reached the aforementioned glass ceiling.
  • This issue shouldn’t bother you if your app is already big enough to cost more than $9.
  • Maybe google can’t bill less than $9 per month? I doubt it, android apps can cost $0.99.
  • A proposed solution: Google takes $9 of credit at a time from your google wallet and eats quotas out of that. When the $9 run out, it bills another 9. Sounds reasonable and “don’t be evil” to me. Another thing that could be nice would be to allow multiple paid apps to feed from the same budget.

8 thoughts on “The Google App Engine Glass Ceiling

  1. A couple things:

    -Paying $2.10 a week to be able to scale up to 3000 emails a day seems pretty reasonable to me.
    -Don’t you have the option of leaving your app on App Engine for free and using a third party email provider with a pricing scheme you’re more confortable with?

  2. We use Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) with great success:

    Here are some hilights:
    * $0.10 per thousand outbound emails.
    * $0.12 per GB of outbound email data.

    We sent 28,043 emails last month, used 0.007 GB, were billed a whopping $0.02. Amazon’s mantra of “only pay for what you use” is awesome, in this case. I wish this were the case with GAE.

    • Gary, something doesn’t add up:

      28,043 emails x $0.10/thousand emails = $2.80

      How come you were only billed 2 cents?

      • * $0.10 per thousand outbound emails.
        * $0.0001 per email at google app engine

        I don’t see the difference. 🙂

  3. Some suggestions:

    * Build all your apps under one single app domain. You can easily make a dashboard or menu to start each app.
    * Use a second app to send emails as well.
    * Drink one beer less each week.

  4. I like the proposed solution to not bill 9$ each month but just when the credit runs out; it sounds like a good deal to me.
    The 100 email/day quota is kinda low, but probably the old quota (if I remember correctly it was 2k) was too generous and had attracted too many spammy junk projects.

    • Google has a history of being too generous at the start and then swinging to measly later. Android refund window was 2 days earlier, and then it was cut down to 15 minutes. It’s like somebody in Google really loves rollercoasters.

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