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AppFog now generally available – how does it slot into the PaaS puzzle?

Chris Mayer
AppFog

Once one jumps, they all do – AppFog are the latest PaaS company to go GA, but how can they possibly separate themselves from the pack?

Room for one more? Another platform-as-a-service has been
unleashed from its cage, roaring proudly about what it can do that
others can’t. Normally, this would fall on deaf ears but when it’s
the leading cloud cross-platform that becomes generally available,
you can’t really not sit up and take notice.

The highly intriguing web, mobile and enterprise platform from
AppFog has finally arrived,
complete with a compelling pricing strategy. Already used by over
40,000 developers between them deploying more than 60,000 apps, the
time was right to give it the green light after a very successful
gestation period. but the crucial question is – how it can possibly
stand out with so many competitors?

AppFog are attempting to differentiate themselves from the
competition by only charging for the RAM you need. They’re also
banking on AppFog doing to PaaS what Google did to email. By this,
they mean they are going to give developers 2GB of RAM for free to
do with as they please, – a tremendous gesture that might have
ramifications across the market. By offering so much for so little,
other PaaS vendors are going to have to offer similarly enticing
value for money sharpish. Their move to commoditize cloud services
like Google did with email is a bold approach, but it’s a gamble
that might just pay off.

AppFog’s ace in the hole is the service’s ability to extend across
different infrastructures, which is a great thing to have available
should Amazon Web Services go down. This is done through VMware’s
CloudFoundry, another PaaS which does the heavy working as a
universal API. It’s an interesting link between the two, using
CloudFoundry as a codebase. Essentially AppFog becomes the front
end here, with a very nice looking UI.

It is AppFog’s simplicity that might win some people over,
posturing itself as an everyman’s cloud, supporting Java, .NET,
Node, Python, Ruby, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB, Postgres and more. Through
their successful beta phase, they’ve built a reliable and
performant PaaS primed to be reasonably scalable, which is ideal
for startup enterprises.

AppFog is definitely targeting smaller and startup enterprises
wanting to get their apps up and running in the cloud (and highly
scalable) with the click of their fingers, as they claim you can
deploy in 30 seconds to AWS, Rackspace and Azure. Its pick-and-mix
approach to cloud is certainly business-friendly too, with most not
wanting to be locked down in this respect.

Whilst AppFog won’t necessarily compete with the heavier duty Java
platforms (OpenShift, CloudFoundry et al), its brash entry into the
space could indeed have a knock-on effect in what they do and how
they position themselves going forward. Some seeking a simple,
cost-effective solution might just wander over to the
Portland-based company from now on.

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