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LongJump and Open Cloud PaaS

A strong contender for a best-of-breed cloud computing development and deployment approach

Even The Economist newspaper is worried about cloud lock-in. And a lot of people talk about open clouds, but not many necessarily do anything about it.

LongJump's announcement today of an enhanced platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering -- the LongJump Business Applications Platform -- is a strong contender for a best-of-breed cloud computing development and deployment approach that reduces the risk of cloud lock-in.

Designed with independent software vendors (ISVs) that want to go to the cloud in mind, LongJump's PaaS 6.2 version allows applications to be deployed almost anywhere -- on Amazon, Rackspace, on an enterprise data center, or any standards-based runtime stack, says Pankaj Malviya, Founder and CEO of LongJump.

That's flexible deployment among public clouds, private clouds or both (with an ability to manage among them to come in a future release, I'd wager). LongJump’s extensible PaaS gives organizations options in hosting environments including third-party clouds such as Amazon EC2, or a private cloud safely tucked behind the company’s own firewall.

LongJump won't be alone in seeking the holy grail of a truely open, portable, extensible and neutral cloud PaaS approach, but they have my attention. We'll need to keep an eye on Salesforce, TIBCO Software, IBM, and Oracle/Sun on the topic.

For now, LongJump's one-size-fits-all model (to build with Java, Ajax, SOAP, REST, Eclipse) helps ISVs, businesses and developers as they seek a sleek path to cloud-based custom applications. The tools also provide a common way to build thin, fit and fat app UIs.

And integrated modeling, workflow and rules capabilities allow the applications behave as serve components, as parts of extended business processes. Cool.

LongJump, based in Sunnyvale, CA, unveiled the latest version of its LongJump Business Applications Platform at JavaOne in San Francisco. LongJump argues that the “PaaS approach should not dictate loss of control.” Hard to argue with that.

The platform comes with a complete customer relationship management (CRM) solution and also includes a catalog of customizable business applications. Custom development can be done using Java classes, or via visual workflows. The tools support object inheritance across a variety of types.

The catalog offers out-of-the-box but customizable apps for things like relational data management and analysis, form-based applications, resource allocation and management, project fulfillment, approvals and workflow.

LongJump provides “building blocks” of common processes and functions that developers can use to build custom apps to meet the specific needs of their vertical market, without having to reinvent the wheel.

This reuse approach might once have been called service-oriented architecture (SOA) but in the post-death-of-SOA world, the acronym is not mentioned in the LongJump announcement. Last week Malviya told me, however, this is all "built on SOA." That makes me feel better, and it should you, too.

The “extensible PaaS” approach “offers developers and businesses a high level of control, customization and extensibility,” according to the company. It envisions enterprises using its PaaS product to create and industry standards-based cloud apps that include integration of legacy application data.

The pitch for ISVs positions LongJump’s PaaS for developing new software-as-a-service (SaaS) products. Where is Microsoft is this space? Still in the starting blocks ... and we still don't know how portable the code will be, or if Azure will support any variety of runtimes. Unlikely but essential, if you ask me. (And you'd think Miscrosoft would want to attract more than VB developers!)

For enterprise customers the new features support the private cloud approach that may match the comfort level corporate IT departments will have with cloud computing. The focus is on providing the customer with control based on its business rules, rather than ceding power to a PaaS or cloud vendor. Developers are free to create unique applications unfettered by restrictions on deployment options, or branding.

New features from LongJump, which may provide a security blanket for organizations taking a first step on the PaaS path, include:

  • Secure platform for compliance-sensitive applications (CFR 21 Part 11)
  • Digital signature support, including multiple hierarchical signature blocks.
  • Field-level change tracking and auditing and record level event-driven snapshots.

This flexibility was a selling point for The David Allen Company, a professional training, coaching, and management consulting organization, based in Ojai, CA, which selected LongJump over better known PaaS vendors. Robert Peake, CIO at David Allen, said that after evaluating PaaS vendors, LongJump offered “the most flexible application platform” for his company’s unique requirements.

LongJump also caught the eye of Gartner analysts, who deemed it a “Cool Vendor” in an April report on Cloud Computing System and Application Infrastructure, albeit with a caveat that it was the company’s unique approach rather than a detailed product evaluation that warranted the listing.

Part of the LongJump news at JavaOne is it’s support for Sun Microsystems’ – soon to be Oracle’s – MySQL database.

For those interested, LongJump and MySQL are hosting a free webinar, “Developing and Deploying SaaS Applications with MySQL and LongJump” on Thursday, June 11, at 4 p.m. EDT, 1 p.m. PDT. Information and registration is available at http://www.mysql.com/news-and-events/web-seminars/display-354.html

LongJump is a service of Relationals Inc., a privately-held provider of on-demand CRM and sales force automation (SFA) applications with more than 400 enterprise customers.

This company is hot ... in the right place, with the right fuctions at the right time. I can think of several suitors that would do well to jump-start their own cloud strategy with such a PaaS solution.

BriefingsDirect contributor Rich Seeley provides research and editorial assistance to BriefingsDirect. He can be reached at Writer4Hire.

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