Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

If you attended President Obama’s March 26 online Town Hall meeting, you were likely more interested in how the president would answer questions about the economy, health care and higher education costs.

But what you might not have noticed was that the White House was using an application called Google Moderator, hosted on the application giant’s GoogleApp Engine platform, to screen and choose which questions the president would take, based on user input and feedback.

“We were able to handle 3 million users and hundreds of thousands of questions without investing in any build out of infrastructure,” says Rajen Sheth, senior product manager of Google Apps.

This set of new Google Apps Development Tools, including the AppEngine platform, are aimed at reducing complexities and costs for Google’s ISVs and solution provider partners and their customers.

Application development can be a costly, prohibitively complex process for many organizations, says Sheth. Businesses not only need to maintain staff to develop applications in-house, but also ensure that hardware, operating systems, databases and other infrastructure components are able to handle new applications and large numbers of users.

By opening Google’s application development platform for customers and partners, Sheth says Google aims to help simplify the underlying infrastructure and leverage Google’s scalability to allow ISVs and partners to focus on their core competency—application development.

Google’s new tools, powered by the lastest App Engine release, include support for applications written in Java, as well as new security features, including a Secure Data Connector (SDC) that lets ISVs develop and modify applications behind organizations’ firewalls, says Sheth.

The Java support includes an upgrade to Google’s Web Toolkit to allow developers to create both front-end Web interfaces and backend application functionality in Java, says Sheth.

Developers fluent in Java will adapt quickly, Sheth says, and many solution providers and ISVs are excited about the new capabilities, including a focus on interactive Web interfaces and rich application front ends.

“What we’re doing with toolkit is giving developers and channel partners an easy way to create solid and rich interactive Web interface like we have with G-mail,” Sheth says. ISVs can create applications in Java, host those on Google Apps Engine and then Google can provide the UIs for those apps based on ISVs custom application code, he says.

McMullan uses ISV Appirio as an example of how leveraging Google’s infrastructure can save ISVs money and time. He explains that the firm built an employee recruiting application on AppEngine with both the front and back end in Java. Instead of hiring additional developers, building out infrastructure and investing in new servers and other hardware to support the application, McMullan says the app was up and running in just a couple of weeks and only required the services of one Java Developer.

McMullan says that by reducing the time, personnel and cost of application development, Google’s solution providers will be able to create more applications faster, and free up personnel to work on other technologies.

“We think channel partners will be able to put more of their developers’ skills to work with these tools,” says McMullan.

Google also introduces its Secure Data Connector, which provides enhanced security and encryption for ISVs working on customers internal or proprietary applications.

“One issue customers have when they work with an ISV or a solution provider is the fear of opening a hole in their firewall to allow developers access,” says Sheth.

“A lot of solution providers tell us that their customers already have applications like CRM or ERP, for example, behind the firewall,” Sheth says. “While they might not want to bring those to an outside development platform, they do want to leverage our platform so they don’t have to bring development in-house,” he says.

Many of these applications are not meant to be exposed over the Web, and to allow even the smallest point of entry in the firewall could result in serious security breaches, Sheth says. To combat this issue, Google has added the ability for developers to access proprietary apps behind the firewall, and to encrypt data that passes between the firewall and Google’s AppEngine, he says.

Thus, SDC allows solution providers and ISVs to drive new revenue streams from customers that previously hadn’t considered using outside developers, as well as from existing customers that want to extend capabilities of CRM or ERP applications to more users within their organization, says Scott McMullan, Google Apps Partner Lead.

“The data in these applications is private to the companies, and there may only be a small subset of employees able to take advantage of that data” within CRM or ERP applications, to use that example, says McMullan. “But there is a significantly larger number of employees that could benefit from using that data, and SDC can allow developers to extend that access,” he says.

Oracle and Seibel, for instance, are just two of the large software vendors Google has partnered with in this effort, McMullan says, and the partnership is a win-win-win for the software companies, for Google, and for solutin providers and their customers.

“This capability gives Oracle, Seibel, large ISVs, small ISVs and traditional solution providers a greater ability to increase the install base of their applications, and to get that data out to more folks that can benefit,” McMullan says.