As we march towards a future dominated by PaaS, we are seeing companies ramping up their offerings. Today Apprenda (previous CloudAve coverage), the .NET PaaS provider, and Redhat (previous CloudAve Coverage), with their Openshift PaaS (previous CloudAve coverage) offering, made announcements about updates to their respective platforms. Apprenda announced the release of Apprenda 3.0, newer and fully productized version of their PaaS layer for enterprises (still) relying on .NET and Windows infrastructure. Redhat announced complete lifecycle support for Java in their OpenShift platform. Let us dig more on these two announcements in this post because both these announcements show a maturation of these platforms as they try to persuade enterprise customers to adopt their services.
A mature Apprenda 3.0 platform
First let me discuss the Apprenda news on the release of their next version of the software, Apprenda 3.0. Regular readers of this blog know my bias towards open source but I always thought there is a need for a solid PaaS offering that could cater to the enterprises. When Microsoft announced Windows Azure (previous CloudAve coverage), I was very excited because I thought Azure as an antidote for stopping Amazon from taking a monopoly like lead in the cloud market and, also, as a way to “optimize” enterprise IT. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t do much to address the enterprise PaaS need (though they still have time to do it). I always expected Microsoft to push “PaaS” through their System Center offering but they are still focussed on compute chunks using virtual machines. But, Apprenda is doing exactly what Microsoft, in my personal opinion, failed to do in their quest to protect their existing cash cow. They not only offer a .NET PaaS layer which could run inside the firewalls of enterprises, they have done some great integrations with System Center which will help the existing IT embrace Apprenda’s platform layer in a seamless manner.
Remember my rant against PaaS providers taking a me too approach to delivering PaaS? Apprenda is doing something which will shut me up on my rant. No, I am not talking about their support for .NET PaaS which no other well established non Microsoft PaaS provider seems to be doing (at least at this point in time). Rather, I am talking about their approach to adding value to the users other than just support for another “me too” language and “me too” cloud infrastructure. I had a chance to talk to Apprenda CEO, Sinclair Schuller, on the sidelines of Cloud Expo last week. We discussed about my rant and how Apprenda is doing something different from other PaaS providers. He pointed out that in Apprenda 3.0, they have done something which adds some unique value to the users. Instead of Apprenda platform running like a cloud service emphasizing on issues like automation, scaling, etc. of the underlying infrastructure, they are acting more as an Application Server (of course with all the other PaaS characteristics I mentioned in the previous sentence) which, while running underneath the application, helps inject new capabilities into apps that were not there before. With this, it is much faster to deploy an application that could meet the basic requirements and new features could be added progressively without disrupting the application in any way. I don’t know about others but if I am an IT manager, I would love a platform that lets me do this so that we can add the much needed agility to our organization.
Apprenda 3.0 also offers the following features:
- Gives IT (or the Platform manager) the ability to fine tune the PaaS services to specific set of developers. This level of fine grained control is expected in an enterprise environment
- Supports any .NET web or SOA application by way of its software layer that enterprises can use in a “plug-and-play” fashion on top of the millions of dollars of Windows infrastructure they already own
- Offers access to APIs for distributed caching, publish/subscribe systems, message brokering, and application metering. These features are targeted towards increasing the developer productivity
With many customers in the financial, insurance and pharma verticals, Apprenda is getting enough traction. But one thing I am still not convinced is whether they will be able to withstand the eventual onslaught by Microsoft. If I were one of the top cloud guys in Microsoft, I would just buy them because they will add more value to the Azure efforts in the enterprise market.
Redhat ramps up OpenShift
The other PaaS news of the day is about Redhat adding Jenkins, JBoss Tools and Maven technologies to their OpenShift platform. Clearly targeting enterprise Java developers, Redhat is now offering support for complete lifecycle so that developers can code, build, deploy and scale their Java applications seamlessly on the cloud. OpenShift is Redhat’s first step to stay relevant in the PaaSy future. They contrast themselves from CloudFoundry as a platform that has auto-scaling built in and with support for Jave EE. Unlike CloudFoundry, Redhat wants their open source PaaS platform (whenever the code is made open) to be deeply integrated with their other properties including OS and some infrastructure pieces. With the kind of momentum Redhat is having these days, their PaaS play is definitely interesting and their competition with VMware CloudFoundry is worth following.
The additional integrations announced today include:
- Support for Jenkins, which is based on Hudson, extending OpenShift to “Build-as-a-Service,” allowing for faster builds in the cloud. This is something offered by CloudBees (previous CloudAve coverage) from the beginning.
- Integration between IDE and the cloud with the integration of JBoss Tools and OpenShift, allowing developers to easily push their code to the cloud from the leading Java IDE. Future integration is also planned for JBoss Developer Studio
- Support for Maven, delivering application dependency resolution as part of the build process
Interestingly, Redhat is betting heavily on Java EE while popular opinion is that enterprise developers will slowly move towards modern languages like Ruby, Node.js, etc.. It will be interesting to see if companies like Redhat, CloudBees and Cumulogic (previous CloudAve coverage) can keep them there.