Heroku has been the darling of the platform-as-a-service space since it was snatched up for around US$250 million by Salesforce.com earlier this year. Earlier this week, Heroku added to its clout in the Ruby community by hiring Ruby creator Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto to its staff. The move comes alongside the announcement that Heroku now supports the running of Clojure applications within its cloud.

Byron Sebastian, general manager of Heroku, said that the company’s latest round of hires includes a number of Ruby core developers from Japan. “Matz is going to keep focusing on the Ruby language. That’s it, that’s the story,” he said.

“I went over to Japan in February, and had the privilege of meeting Matz. We talked, and the question I asked was, ‘How can I help Ruby?’ We believe the more people that are using Ruby, the better it is for Heroku. The key thing that came to the surface was providing support for the Ruby language and for the people moving the language forward. We’re also bringing on a couple of other folks in Japan who have been longtime contributors to Ruby.”

John Rymer, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said that the hiring of Matsumoto could help Heroku tune its platform. “When you have control—as much as you can in an open-source world—of a core technology, it gives you a lot of opportunities to optimize those technologies,” he said.

“What do you do? Do you try to address performance? Do you try to guide its evolution in terms of adding features, integrations, testing and code accuracy? It gives them a leg up and some control of that technology. They can then have the inside track on creating the best environment for Ruby.”

Despite his predictions of benefits from hiring Matsumoto, Rymer is still “scratching his head” as to why Salesforce.com purchased Heroku in the first place.

“What does it have to do with [Salesforce.com's] technology stack, or with how their customers design applications? Zero. I don’t get it,” he said.

“I think for them…the strategy they were on, which was to support a variety of developers to build against their APIs and their cloud and services, was a good one. That’s the reality of the enterprise. Why did they get away from that? It’s weird. The enterprise is a lot of Java and a lot of .NET, with some PHP penetration. Ruby in the enterprise is in the corner. Oftentimes it’s being used by contractors who are doing Web projects. If what you’re trying to do is entice the widest possible range of developers to your platform, then a single platform strategy is anathema to that.

About Alex Handy

Alex Handy is the Senior Editor of Software Development Times.