Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bungee Connect beta goes public, adds oomph to development and deployment as a service

Bungee Labs, Orem, Utah, continues its march toward "platform as a service" (PaaS) with today's announcement that it has opened Bungee Connect as a public beta, inviting all developers to, in Bungee's words, "get inspired, get started, and get involved."

Bungee Connect is an end-to-end environment that allows developers to build desktop-like applications from multiple Web services and databases and then instantly deploy them on Bungee's multi-tenant grid infrastructure.

Fellow ZDNet blogger Ryan Stewart has a god piece on Bungee's coming out. As does Dan Farber.

Bungee is dangling the carrot of a reduced time to market -- as much as 80 percent -- from testing, deploying, and hosting in a single, on-demand platform. With utility-like pricing, Bungee is also offering reduced cost. The company claims that businesses can expect to pay $2-5 per user per month for a heavily used business productivity application. However, all applications will be hosted for free during the public beta.

To provide a reference application, Bungee is also releasing WideLens, a calendar application that solves integration problems between Microsoft Exchange, Salesforce.com, Google Calendar, Facebook, MySQL, and iCalendar.

WideLens is intended to provide examples of integrating multiple databases and Web services, end-user authentication, and dynamic user interface presentation patterns. The integration accommodates a variety of protocols -- WebDav, gData, SOAP , REST, and the MySQL client libraries.

A demonstration video is available from the Bungee Web site.

One major feature of Bungee Connect is that developers can access all applications through one of the major Web browsers -- Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari -- with no software downloads, installs, or plug-ins.

I've been following the exploits of Bungee since it first unveiled Bungee Connect last April at the Web 2.0 Expo. Back then, I saw it's potential to expand the universe of Web services for developers:

" . . . the real innovation is how the Bungee Connect model provides an incubator, and — in essence — a business development partner to the developer so that they do not just create an application — they can create a business. That's because the cost for the use of the tools, testing, and then hosting is free, and the subscription cost for the at-scale hosting only kicks in based on the use of the application by end users. Low use means low costs, and high use means a predictable measure of the proceeds goes to the development and hosting service."

One thing we can take away from this announcement is that PaaS is now more than just pie-in-the-sky concept or a one-off product. It's gaining traction, and is offering companies a low-cost -- or scalable cost -- route to business development.

David Mitchell, Bungee founder and CEO, sees PaaS as the wave of the future. He said in a blog post on the Bungee site:

"In our view a platform includes all the systems and environments comprising the end-to-end life cycle of developing, testing, deploying, and hosting Web applications. Naturally, this platform must also be cloud based, a platform as a service,

At Bungee Labs, we believe a transformation larger than SaaS is emerging, where end-to-end development, deployment and hosting platforms as provisioned as services over Web."

Mitchell's blog post echoes what I said in an update last July:

The net effect of these trends and examples is that the time, cost and risk of going from design to full production are deeply compressed. We are entering a period on unmatched applications, services, and media creativity.

I expect we'll be seeing more application lifecycle as a service approaches -- ones that bring enterprise-calibre development, test, deployment, and hosting together. Amazon is moving in this direction. We should also expect the same from Google and Microsoft.

Indeed any cloud computing environ that wishes to support a vibrant community ought to offer what Bungee Labs is providing now. And do hope that standards rule the day so that mashups remain straightforward.

The issue of code portability also needs to be addressed. I probably won;t make sense for these hosts to make leaving easy, but it should nonetheless be quite possible and well understood.