Heroku (See our previous coverage of Heroku here), the poster child of PaaS, has taken steps to ramp up their support for 3rd party service offerings by making it very easy for these providers to offer their service as add-ons to the Heroku platform. In this cloud based world, the very success of a cloud provider is determined by the presence of a vibrant ecosystem of 3rd party complementary services. This is quite logical because no single vendor can satisfy the diverse needs of the market with their own offerings. Even though it is less than a year old, Heroku already has a pretty decent ecosystem around their platform and this move makes it even easier for the 3rd party providers to stack up additional services.
What Is It Anyway?
Heroku today announced the availability of the new Heroku Add-On Provider Program which includes a complete self-service portal and development kit which the 3rd party providers can use to offer their services on top of Heroku platform. The new Provider Program is the first comprehensive offering by a Cloud PaaS provider and offers the proven processes, documentation, best practices, and APIs for cloud service providers to integrate with Heroku’s cloud application platform and bring their add-ons to market.
Some of the services included in the Heroku Add-On marketplace includes
- Application Performance Management Services
- Search Services
- In memory caching of data with memcached (See my coverage on Northscale’s offering on Heroku platform here)
- NoSQL and SQL data stores
- Video transcoding technologies
etc.. Heroku customers can add any of the above ecosystem services to their own app with a few clicks. Heroku manages the billing for the ecosystem players. The business model for ecosystem players is a revenue sharing agreement with Heroku and the 3rd party providers are responsible for the reliability of the service and offering support.
Heroku worked with many of the providers in the add-on marketplace to develop the Heroku Provider Program and they expect it to help accelerate the adoption of this marketplace by a wide variety of service providers. This program is directly available through Heroku Provider Portal and the provider resource center offers extensive documentation, best practices and new add-on development kit. The Development Kit includes a provisioning API, manifest format, single sign-on access, and testing tools for deep integration with the Heroku platform. Cloud services integrated via the Development Kit can be created using the technology and language of the provider’s choice and are run and managed independently in a separate cloud infrastructure. Another interesting feature of this add-on provider program is the ability for the add-on provider to release their service in alpha, private beta, public beta and general availability release modes. The 3rd party providers could use the feedback released to further optimize their services on the Heroku platform.
By now, it is somewhat clear that PaaS is the future of cloud services and Heroku is well positioned to take advantage of this future. By making it easy for the 3rd party providers to offer their services on top of Heroku platform, they are expanding their reach to developers with many different needs. It is not only a smart move but, also, a much needed move. A vibrant ecosystem is a need for the very survival of a cloud provider in this highly competitive marketplace.