What should the cloud computing industry make of the recent partnership between CloudBees and Verizon to render the CloudBees PaaS available on the Verizon Cloud? The obvious point worth noting is that the partnership enables CloudBees to take advantage of Verizon’s brand, partner relationships and global IT infrastructure to more effectively position its PaaS within the larger cloud landscape. More specifically, the CloudBees-Verizon partnership allows the Java-based PaaS to position itself alongside a brand-name IaaS vendor that is rapidly developing partnerships with other technology partners to enhance the Verizon IaaS platform that was revealed in October and remains in public Beta. Note that this is not the first time CloudBees has partnered with an IaaS vendor. In 2012, for example, CloudBees announced the availability of a PaaS platform branded AnyCloud on IaaS platforms such as Amazon Web Services and HP Cloud Services. The larger point here is that the CloudBees partnership with Verizon is illustrative less of the impending demise of PaaS, and more of the consolidation of IaaS as a respected sales channel for PaaS, with the attendant consequence that completely standalone PaaS vendors with no IaaS-related partnerships are becoming increasingly rare in the industry. The bottom line, however, is that the coupling of IaaS and PaaS means that PaaS has finally, irrevocably arrived, albeit not in the standalone form in which it originally emerged, but as a critical extension and offering amongst its dominant IaaS cousin in parallel with separate, dedicated PaaS sales operations teams and infrastructures.
Apprenda today announced the finalization of $16 million in Series C funding in a round led by Safeguard Scientifics Inc. with additional participation from Ignition Partners and New Enterprise Associates. The funding will be used for sales and marketing initiatives as well as to continue the development of Apprenda’s platform as a service infrastructure. As a result of the investment, Philip D. Moyer, Managing Director of Safeguard Scientifics, will join Apprenda’s board of directors. Apprenda focuses on delivering a private PaaS platform that responds to enterprise needs for data security, privacy and dedicated hosting environments where hardware resources are not shared with those of other customers.
In an interview with Cloud Computing Today, Apprenda CEO Sinclair Shuller elaborated on Apprenda’s product differentiation within the Platform as a Service space as the only truly enterprise-grade platform as a service on the market today. Currently, Apprenda boasts an impressive roster of enterprise customers including the likes of AmerisourceBergen, Dell, Honeywell, JP Morgan Chase and Memorial Sloan Kettering. Thirteen of the top 20 financial institutions leverage Apprenda’s private PaaS solution and, according to Apprenda’s press release, JP Morgan boasts the world’s largest PaaS deployment with 300 applications hosted on the Apprenda platform.
Apprenda’s traction within the enterprise is indeed remarkable for a PaaS vendor. Platform as a Service has yet to achieve strong traction within the enterprise, although options are certainly proliferating as evinced by Red Hat’s OpenShift suite and Pivotal One’s Cloud Foundry distribution, to name two platforms amongst many. Apprenda’s additional round of funding positions the company strongly to build on its early traction within the enterprise and potentially catapult it to an undisputed leadership position within the enterprise PaaS space. Apprenda’s uptake amongst enterprise customers is all the more notable for its resistance to adopting a polyglot platform by focusing on support for .NET and Java for the time being. The next six months will be critical for Apprenda as it fights off the challenges of Pivotal One as it attempts to deepen its roster of enterprise customers while diversifying its portfolio to include SMBs as well. The PaaS market is still too embryonic to go through an M&A driven consolidation phase that whittles down the playing field to 3-5 vendors by the end of 2014. That said, the battle for private PaaS enterprise market share is on in full force and Apprenda leads the pack at present, flush with cash for the next phase of its expansion.
Today, Engine Yard announced support for Java on its Platform as a Service infrastructure. The addition of Java to its Platform as a Service means that Engine Yard now supports Java, Ruby, PHP and Node.js. Engine Yard will make Java available to developers by way of a technology stack based on Ubuntu Linux. Customers will be able to manage Java applications and environments by way of a Angular.js and Node.js user interface. Engine Yard also announced that it will add the Oracle Public Cloud to its supported list of cloud providers in addition to IaaS platforms Amazon Web Services, Verizon Terremark, and Windows Azure. Engine Yard’s support of Java continues the trend of polyglot compatibility within the Platform as a Service space. Meanwhile, its partnership with the Oracle Public Cloud illustrates the co-implication of PaaS and IaaS and the way in which Platform as a Service vendors are increasingly dependent on IaaS infrastructures to develop and expand relationships with developers and customers. Java will be available on the Engine Yard platform within 30 days.
Red Hat released a website dedicated to its new programming language Ceylon, a Java Virtual Machine-based language that aims to deliver solutions for some of the drawbacks of Java. The website provides links to access Ceylon code through GitHub, even though the language has not been formally released to the public. Additionally, the Ceylon website contains directions for downloading Ceylon’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE), ahead of the official release expected to arrive upon completion of the Ceylon Project’s first milestone.
Red Hat developer Gavin King provided the first sustained elaboration on Ceylon in April 2011 at QCon Beijing, the Enterprise Software Development Conference. In his keynote address at QCon, King noted that Java provided an exemplary combination of virtual machine execution, automatic memory management and safe referencing, static typing, lexical scoping and readable syntax. Moreover, King described Java as easy to learn, robust and illustrative of a culture of openness with a “huge tradition of developing and sharing reusable code (frameworks, libraries).”
However, King’s keynote remarked upon the importance of an alternative to Java by noting that “after ten often-frustrating years developing frameworks for Java, we simply can’t go any further without a better solution for deﬁning structured data and user interfaces for the following reasons”:
• The interdependence of Java with XML
• The difficulty of defining a user interface in Java
• Lack of modular solutions and reliance instead on multiple platforms
• Lack of support for first class and higher-order functions
• Difficulty of meta-programming in Java
Ceylon’s syntax features attributes that differentiate it from Java such as inherent modularity and a declarative syntax for defining user interfaces, structured data and hierarchical structures. According to its website, Ceylon positions itself in relation to Java and C# as follows:
Ceylon is deeply influenced by Java. You see, we’re fans of Java, but we know its limitations inside out. Ceylon keeps the best bits of Java but improves things that in our experience are annoying, tedious, frustrating, difficult to understand, or bugprone. Furthermore, Ceylon makes it much easier to write generic code (frameworks or libraries), or to naturally describe treelike structures (especially user interfaces). Of course, Java isn’t the only language with good ideas, so Ceylon looks for inspiration in other language families, in everything from Smalltalk to ML.
Despite its differences from Java, Ceylon is intended to appeal to Java developers who can migrate to the language with speed. Ceylon is one of the most recent languages to run atop the Java Virtual Machine alongside JRuby, Scala and Ruby.
This week, Platform as a Service vendor Heroku added yet another language to its growing “polyglot platform.” Heroku now supports Scala, the Java virtual machine language that combines objected oriented and functional programming. Heroku began as a Ruby on Rails Platform but recently followed suit upon its August announcement to support Java by adding support for Python. Heroku’s Cedar stack release now supports the following languages: Ruby, Node.js, Clojure, Java, Python, PHP and Scala.
In September, Heroku announced a partnership with Facebook that allows Facebook developers to directly launch Facebook applications by selecting Heroku as an external provider, and then provisioning and launching the application from within Facebook’s development interface. Within twenty four hours of Facebook revealing its deployment of Timeline and a host of other features, Heroku reported the deployment of 33,800 Facebook applications, amounting to a rate of over 20 Heroku Facebook applications per minute.
Heroku’s rapid transition to a progressively multilingual platform illustrates the way in which Platform as a Service vendors are using multilingual support as a way of keeping up with the increasingly dominant IaaS space. PaaS vendor Engine Yard recently announced support for JRuby subsequent to its acquisition of the PHP platform Orchestra, to complement its Ruby on Rails platform.
Given all of the hype about OpenStack, Red Hat and Amazon Web Services, PaaS vendors may well be coming to the realization that the best way to compete in the enterprise space is to empower developers to deploy applications in as many languages as possible. Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, VMware’s Cloud Foundry and AppFog all embrace more than one language and are increasingly following the market trend to diversify their linguistic offerings to the development community.
Heroku was acquired by Salesforce.com in January 2011 for $250 million.