AppFog Goes GA, Helps Developers Forget About Economics

AppFog is today announcing it is ready for general availability and rolling out some changes along side the release. I spent some time talking with AppFog founder Lucas Carlson last week at OSCON and then again this week by phone to dive in on the details of the release. In terms of the actual announcement, AppFog is rolling out

  • Innovative RAM-based pricing
  • The same pricing even if developers mix multiple backend infrastructure vendors
  • The ability to scale apps on the free service
  • Single click, zero-code migrations between cloud vendors
  • 30-second deployments to AWS, Rackspace, HP, Azure and more

Alongside the GA announcement, AppFog is saying that it has enabled 60000 applications to be deployed by over 40000 developers. During AppFog’s beta program, the company served over 10 Terabytes of RAM to high profile customers including the City of New York.

In terms of GA Pricing & Availability, developers can create a free account with 2 GB of RAM. Monthly plans with additional RAM are also available: 4GB/$100, 16GB/$380, 32GB/$720. For those requiring Terabytes of RAM, the charge is $22.50 per GB for as much as you need.In addition, AppFog now allows users to run their own managed PaaS platform on-premise through OpenStack or vSphere or even in public clouds.

MyPOV

Well, frankly I’m excited but first some context – despite saying for a long time that PaaS is the future of cloud services, it’s also fair to say that adoption of PaaS has been slow – In my assessment this has much to do with the fact that PaaS is complex – while it’s ay to understand the IaaS metaphor of replacing physical with virtual, PaaS is a more complex beast. When talking with Carlson – he articulated the barriers to PaaS adoption falling into three broad buckets;

  • Lack of control
  • Reliability/robustness
  • Price
  • Speed

AppFog is directly helping with all of these areas

Control – By using CloudFoundry there is a level and amount of control that hasn’t really been seen before on PaaS. it allows for a level of monitoring and fine grained control that meets the needs of both corporate IT and developers themselves

Reliability/robustness – Seizing on the recent issues around cloud infrastructure outages, Carlson was keen to reflect on the fact that developers pick PaaS but have no say in where it is run. With AppFog’s approach of multi-cloud cloning that enables a move between zones or even between different infrastructure providers, the concerns around

Price – In a really exciting development for PaaS, AppFog is introducing a new charging methodology whereby users simply pay for RAM – regardless of how many individually instances are being run and regardless of which infrastructure vendor they run with. I can’t state enough just how revolutionary this is – by following this model, AppFog allows developers to completely disregard the economic aspects when deciding which infrastructure they wish to sit atop, it gives them choice, outside of price. Secondarily, the fact that PaaS has traditionally been very expensive when compared to traditional infrastructure back ends, has been a barriers to uptake. By allowing developers to use PaaS at a similar price point to traditional approaches, AppFog will really ease adoption

Speed – By decoupling charging from infrastructure segmentation, AppFog allows developers to finely tune their deployment approach towards achieving the best possible speed metrics

Bonus – A couple of months ago I moderated an enterprise PaaS panel at DeployCon – it’s an interesting insight into the drivers and barriers with regards PaaS in the enterprise, I’ve embedded the video below

I quizzed Carlson on whether this indicated the start of a price war for PaaS, he demurred, contending that this is instead a move into more creative strategies around monetization. Carlson also gave me a glimpse into the deeper AppFog strategy – he likened what they are doing to the Gmail approach, the idea of “bringing value where it counts and monetizing around that”. Previously many PaaS providers had been in an arbitrage game where they were simply making a margin on infrastructure. The AppFog strategy is to turn that on its head – they’re articulating a vision that is compelling and exciting – the success of their GA is going to be fascinating to watch.

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