Three Questions with PaaS Vendor AppHarbor

The Platform-as-a-Service market is still in its infancy; however, just like developer platforms such as Win32 or LAMP in the past, it will only gain in importance. I thought it would be helpful to collect perspectives from some of the leading PaaS companies, by asking them some key questions about the state of the market and their positioning.

Today’s first installment is with Michael Friis, co-founder of AppHarbor, whose slogan is “Azure done right”:

1: Who should and shouldn’t be using a PaaS product today, and why?

Michael: We feel that PaaS is relevant for most applications. Some applications and uses that have very strict regulatory and compliance based restrictions may not be appropriate though.

We feel that a limiting factor in PaaS adoption is IT departments insistence on maintaining control over infrastructure, also in cases where this is detrimental to cost and development agility. At AppHarbor, we strive to create a deployment and development experience that is so compelling to developers that the development organization will insist on PaaS adoption to replace creaky provisioning procedures handled by traditional IT departments.

2: Three to five years out, what is the PaaS market going to look like?

Michael: While we’ll probably still see many different setups and offerings in five years, at AppHarbor we feel that the “PaaS dethrones IaaS Scenario” offers the sweet spot for developers and enterprises. IaaS providers have so far failed to build compelling, managed platforms and seem unlikely to be capable of doing so.

At AppHarbor, we feel strongly that developers should not be locked in to any particular platform, and it is important to us that we can run most existing .NET applications out of the box. We also believe that developers will demand access to a wide range of add-on services and features, not just proprietary ones unique to each IaaS or PaaS vendor. This is why we have launched an add-on program to let third-party add-on providers offer services to developers running applications on our platform. This approach was pioneered by Heroku and our adoption of the same add-on provisioning API’s have made this add-on ecosystem even more attractive for providers. We expect to see a burgeoning market for add-on services offered across a range of PaaS’s.

3: Which part of the PaaS landscape is your company focused on and which unique value do you provide?

Michael: AppHarbor is focused on creating a great deployment experience for developers that want to be agile, deploy often and iterate quickly with stakeholders. By relying on Git and Mercurial, deploying new application versions to AppHarbor is easy and integrated in developers daily work flow. We’re also committed to giving developers access to a wide selection of add-ons and services that they can be used to quickly compose great .NET applications.

Thanks, Michael! To learn more about AppHarbor, visit their site.

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