Google App Engine vs Digital Ocean

Cloud computing technologies are improving the mobile app development scene by leaps and bounds. With data storage and sharing done over the internet, mobile applications can be deployed and operated through web browsers on multiple platforms.

Moreover, cloud computing enables scalability, meaning developers can easily integrate data analytics and other advanced technologies as the userbase for the application grows over time.

Continue reading as we compare two of the most popular cloud computing platforms, i.e., Google App Engine and DigitalOcean as we dive deeper into their features and advantages.

If you are looking to select one for your next project, this post should help you make an informed decision going forward.

Key Takeaways

  • App Engine is Google’s PaaS service
  • Digital Ocean is an affordable and reliable cloud provider
  • App Engine is backed by Google, and DO a public company

What is Google App Engine? 

Google App Engine is a fully managed, serverless, cloud computing platform as a service (PaaS) for developing scalable mobile and web applications in Google-managed data centers.

You can program apps in your favorite programming language as it extends support for almost all the popular ones including ruby, C#, Python, Node.js, Java, PHP, etc. Moreover, you can also run other languages using custom runtimes.

One of the main reasons users prefer Google App Engine is the fact that they get complete control over the app. Applications developers using App Engine are sandboxed and can be run across multiple servers.

It also provisions the data servers on your behalf and scales the app on demand. You are charged on a pay-only-for-what-you-use model, as your app will be scaled automatically depending on the traffic and resources will be consumed only when your code is running.

Google App Engine Core Features 

  • Support for popular languages

As stated earlier, App Engine is extremely flexible from the developers’ POV, as it supports several programming languages including the likes of Ruby, Python, Java, .NET, Node.js, PHP, C#, etc. As a developer, you can also import libraries and frameworks, like your own container files, to build and test an app using custom SDKs.

  • Diagnostic Services

App Engine is also great for app diagnosis and security as developers get access to Cloud Monitoring and Cloud Logging, which identifies bugs and notifies the testers and developers in real-time. You can set up an event recording SDK that automatically notifies the testers and the errors can be fixed at the earliest.

  • Support for both SQL and NoSQL

Applications built on the App Engine can either use the Google Cloud SQL database for hosting and storage or the built-in NoSQL DB for storing large data volumes with at least 3 independent replication sites. However, you will need to be careful about the data structures for optimum results.

Google App Engine Advantages 

  • Increased scalability

With App Engine, you get access to Google’s proprietary automatic scaling for standard and flexible environments. By default, App Engine will scale up the number of instances of the app to match the traffic load to ensure consistent performance in heavy traffic or scale down to idle instances to reduce the operational costs. You are only charged for the resources consumed and your code does not run on idle instances.

  • Developer friendly

Google App Engine is open and flexible, meaning developers can use the platform as they see it to maximize their productivity. For instance, custom runtimes allow you to bring any library or framework to the app engine using isolated containers. You also get access to a diverse set of APIs that allow you to increase the functionality of the application without bloating the code.

  • Faster time to market

With App Engine, developers can focus on writing and improving the code without having to manage the underlying infrastructure at all. Since GAE does most of the backend managing for you, you can focus on improving the app and bringing it to the market at the earliest.

What is DigitalOcean? 

DigitalOcean is one of the most popular enterprise-level cloud computing service providers that offer the tools and cloud services necessary to deploy and scale applications that run simultaneously on multiple computers.

Developers get access to a robust set of computing, database, storage, and networking products, which can be used to develop dynamic applications that run in any environment that you want.

DigitalOcean is supported by an extremely developer-friendly community, evident from the Hacktoberfest Meetups that it hosts in association with GitHub.

The open-source community comes together to share unique ideas and opinions and developers help each other out. DigitalOcean also provides simple and minimalistic APIs, which can be invoked using standard HTTP tools like various libraries and plugins.

Digital Ocean Core Features 

  • Droplets

Also referred to as a cloud instance, Droplets are resizable and scalable computer services that provide developers with additional high-speed storage, security, and monitoring capabilities from accessible locations across the globe. The distros are pre-built, allowing you to get the essentials out at the earliest.

  • Tools and integration

DigitalOcean also provides a great selection of tools to boost the app development process and keep everything on track. For instance, the DOCTL CLI tool facilitates better control and management of the Droplet cloud server.

  • Intuitive dashboard

With DigitalOcean, you get access to an aesthetically pleasing and functional user interface with all the important links and one-click features laid out in a clutter-free dashboard. A no-fuss UI goes a long way in improving productivity on heavier workloads.

Digital Ocean Advantages 

  • Affordable pricing

DigitalOcean is one of the most affordable cloud PaaS implementations available right now. The basic plan is set to $5 per month, and you can scale up according to the resources required. Smaller organizations will also benefit from hourly and monthly pocket-friendly arrangements.

  • Remarkable performance

DigitalOcean is also one of the first SSD-based VM providers. The cloud servers run on powerful hexa-core machines with RAID SSD storage and dedicated EICC memory, and the droplets offer a lighting fast 55s boot time.

  • Active digital community

One of the best advantages of DigitalOcean is the active open-source community that helps the developers out by answering queries, providing feedback, etc.

Since the infrastructure is always testing new and cutting-edge technologies even before others consider it (IPv6 for instance), the community experts will help you out so that new developers can make the most of the technologies.

App Engine vs Digital Ocean Comparison

Goole App Engine and Digital Ocean services are not the same. The first is a PaaS service that adds managed services on top of the IaaS structure.

Having that in mind, PaaS providers are more expensive than a pure IaaS deployment and less flexible. On the other hand, PaaS services provide a managed infrastructure and value-added services that accelerate app development.

Digital Ocean also offers a PaaS service called Digital Ocean App Platform. This service is a fully managed solution, allow users to get their apps to the market faster, and improves general productivity.

So, comparing the Digital Ocean and App Engine, please make sure you evaluate the infrastructure services of DO and the App Platform.

Google App EngineDigital Ocean
DescriptionGoogle’s platform as a service.Cloud infrastructure provider.
Parent OrganizationGooglePublic Company
Start Date20082011
Featured CustomersIDEXX
Khan Academy
PriceMore expensiveLess Expensive
Price StructurePay as you goPay as you go
Multiple languages
IaaS Services
PaaS Platform
More flexible
Startup ProgramYesYes
AdvantagesBacked by Google
Fully managed
Faster time to market
Developer centric
Ease of use
Flexibility / Pricing


Both Google App Engine and Digital Ocean have their pros and cons as cloud computing platforms. You will need to consider the exact scale and scope of your project to select one of them.

App Engine is platform as a service solution backed by Google. It provides fully managed services, scalability, and a faster time to market. Featured customers are IDEXX, Barilla, and Khan Academy.

Digital Ocean is an independent cloud infrastructure provider. It provides reliable cloud services at affordable pricing. It also has a PaaS service called App Platform. Featured customers from Digital Ocean are Slack, Gitlab, and Ghost.


What is Google App Engine?

App Engine is platform as a service solution backed by Google. It provides fully managed services, scalability, and a faster time to market. Featured customers are IDEXX, Barilla, and Khan Academy.

What is DigitalOcean?

Digital Ocean is an independent cloud infrastructure provider. It provides reliable cloud services at affordable pricing. It also has a PaaS service called App Platform. Featured customers from Digital Ocean are Slack, Gitlab, and Ghost.

What are the differences between App Engine and Digital Ocean?

– App Engine is backed by Google
– DigitalOcean is a independent company
– App Engine is a PaaS platform
– DigitalOcean is a more general cloud provider (IaaS, PaaS, etc)
– App Engine is a managed service
– Digital Ocean has managed and not managed services

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