The emerging platform-as-a-service market continues to heat up, with new offerings (and new takes on what PaaS actually means) forming rapidly. From Java and .NET to Python and Ruby, PaaS offerings now cover all of the major languages, but the future may be more about all of these languages used together rather than each one standing on its own within a dedicated PaaS cloud.
John Rymer, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said that limiting PaaS’ scope could limit appeal. “If what you’re trying to do is entice the widest possible audience of developers to your platform, then a single-language strategy is anathema to that.”
Indeed, many successful PaaS companies and emerging PaaS offerings are already tending toward expanding their supported environments. Heroku, for example, has long been the poster child for Ruby PaaS. But in mid-July, the Salesforce.com-owned company announced that it has begun supporting Clojure in its PaaS offering, expanding the appeal of the platform beyond just Ruby users.
Byron Sebastian, general manager of Heroku, said that more platforms supported means more choice for developers. “When you’re building distributed applications—where there might be a Web front end or some machine intelligence and data analysis involved—when you’re building a complex distributed system, not only do you want different types of data stores and a combination of Web processes and distributed processes, but you might also want to implement them in different processes,” he said.
“We felt Clojure made sense for our customers; it’s got a lot of mind share, it’s another step in the path we’re taking, which currently includes Ruby, Node.js and Clojure. We will continue adding more and more languages there.”
VMware is also modifying its own PaaS strategy to have a broader scope. Originally, the company discussed a Java- and Spring-based PaaS offering from its SpringSource division. But later this summer, VMware will introduce a desktop-hosted version of Cloud Foundry (called Micro Cloud), the company’s latest PaaS offering, which aims to include far more than just Java stacks. Micro Cloud is designed to give developers a way of building cloudy PaaS-based applications on their desktops.
DotCloud is another multi-environment PaaS company. Originally, this startup was part of the Y Combinator technology incubator/angel investor group. The company is out of hiding and offering its varied PaaSes to the public. Solomon Hykes, CEO of DotCloud, said that his company was built specifically to offer an ever-expanding range of PaaS environments.
Unfortunately, this approach takes time and effort to build out, he said. As such, DotCloud is slowly adding more stacks and options over time, with the end goal being to offer hosting for almost any application out there.