Orangescape is an India based PaaS provider offering a higher level of abstraction for business users to design applications without any programming knowledge. They are clearly targeting a group of users who want to develop apps based on the business logic without getting their hands dirty in code. I recently had a chance to talk to them and understand their platform in detail and I thought I will post my thoughts as a post here.
First, my motivations for bringing Orangescape under my radar
There are many reasons for my interest on Orangescape and the chief among them are:
- I strongly believe that PaaS is the Future of Cloud Services and Orangescape, being a PaaS provider, came under my radar naturally
- They are based in India. There is a strong criticism that India is more of an outsourcing destination than anything innovative like Silicon Valley. Even, I have voiced this criticism many times in the past. But, this is slowly changing and we are seeing innovative startups coming up in Indian tech scene. Orangescape, which offers an unique cloud offering, is based in India. Bigger analysts firms like Gartner and Forrester have identified Orangescape as one of the companies to watch in the cloud computing space. Being from India, my interest was piqued by this characterization and wanted to learn more
- I really like the vendors who eat their own dog food. Orangescape is a PaaS provider but they also run their operations on top of Google App Engine, another well known PaaS provider. In fact, this is one of the topic that comes up for discussion among the Clouderati often. How many cloud vendors have their infrastructure on the clouds? Not many, it appears. By running on top of another PaaS service, Orangescape is clearly demonstrating to their customers about the value of PaaS. Another interesting factor is that Orangescape PaaS platform is targeted towards enterprises. They become a good case-study establishing the robustness of Google App Engine in the enterprise segment. More importantly, the recent versions of Orangescape Studio, their platform to develop apps, was developed using one of the versions of Orangescape Studio itself. How else can a startup from India prove to the world that their platform is well suited for complex applications
What is Orangescape, BTW?
As I mentioned earlier, Orangescape is a PaaS offering targeted towards business users to design apps without any programming knowledge. Orangescape uses what is known as modeling approach to developing applications. Orangescape Studio offers an UI similar to modern Excel application and the business users can design an application by capturing various aspects of the application declaratively in an XML-like format which is then executed by the proprietary Orangescape virtual machine. The core of the virtual machine is their main platform, which is nothing but a rules engine that works on a complex networked data model.
Orangescape VM is the runtime container which has two tiers:
- A service tier which handles pluggable authentication and authorization
- A business tier that contains a process engine, report engine and the rule engine
This runs on top of different platforms like Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, AWS, IBM (for private cloud), etc..
Using Orangescape platform users can develop any application and offer it as a SaaS for consumption. In fact, one of the Orangescape’s Indian partner, Wipro, has used Orangescape platform to develop a full fledged ERP solution that handles the business processes of Indian government organizations.
I don’t get it. If GAE is PaaS, how can Orangescape running on GAE can be a PaaS too?
PaaS is a more general term representing the platform services. However, if we look deeply into PaaS, it can be further categorized into:
- PaaS: General purpose programming platform like GAE and Azure which are targeted towards developers
- APaaS: Also called as Application PaaS, general purpose Business Apps platform like Force.com or Zoho Creator fits into this category. Orangescape fits into this category
- SPaaS: Special purpose Vertical or Horizontal Apps platform like Force.com for SFDC CRM
Essentially Orangescape elevates developers from writing hard code to design apps seamlessly by using the necessary business logic. I would say that Orangescape targets power users who are well versed with Excel or 4GL developers who use tools like Visual Basic than the hardcore developers who fire up Vi editor to write the code.
Digging a bit more technically, most popular programming languages support only Procedural Logic for expressing business logic. However, OrangeScape platform goes beyond Procedural Logic and supports Rule Based Logic for expressing business logic. Rule Based Logic brings in tremendous power when developing complex business applications needed in the enterprises. Developers can just specify what is expected from the application and Orangescape platform will take care of the rest. In short, we are not talking about developers on a platform but, rather, we are talking about modeling experts on a platform. Orangescape platform takes the abstraction to a much higher level than the PaaS solutions like Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure or Heroku.
Orangescape is not a cool kid who was born after Cloud Computing became part of our lives. They are a company from the pre-cloud era delivering their platform to large companies running traditional IT. However, they couldn’t find an easy way to deliver their platform and scale their business. When cloud computing came around, they recognized clearly that it is a suitable delivery mechanism and found PaaS even more suitable for running their platform. In that sense, Orangescape is an unique cloud story that predates even cloud computing. With their focus on SMBs and enterprises, they have already crossed the 1 Million dollar revenue mark and from my observation, they are a ripe target for acquisition.
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