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Bungee Offers Platform-as-a-Service Dev Beta

Bungee Labs this week rolled out the full public beta of a hosted service designed to provide a complete Web-based application development environment. The new Bungee Connect service includes development tools and staging platforms for creators of browser-based business apps.

The development tools and servers all reside in the Internet cloud, and so Bungee officials use the term, "platform as a service," to describe their offering.

Platform as a service is a term also used by hosted CRM provider Salesforce.com, which offers its own Force.com version. However, Lyle Ball, Bungee Labs' vice president of marketing, drew a distinction between the two offerings, suggesting that Bungee Connect extends the cloud-based development platform across the entire software development lifecycle.

"I'm not speaking about a platform of multiple integrated disparate components from multiple companies," Ball said. "I'm not talking about, for example, Salesforce.com's model, where they have some technology and then they require an Eclipse plug-in and they have you do some work offline and then save that and put it into their system to be published to end users. But [I'm talking about] the entire lifecycle of the application -- from development through deployment and hosting. [Development on Bungee Connect] all takes place in a single environment."

Ball emphasized the advantages of not having to move Web-based applications from a test server to a staging server and then deal with the associated bugs and problems. Instead, Bungee Connect provides one environment that is live and on the Web, he said.

The service is targeted toward the professional developer, IT manager or technical business manager that wants to move to a Web-based development platform or extend existing in-house development processes. Bungee Connect apps can run inside other apps, plus developers can create them using familiar tools, Ball suggested.

"The developer's interface is going to be very familiar," he said. "Our language is a C family language, so it's going to have the broadest familiarity with developers from multiple platforms or entrenched systems. If they are in the rich Web space, they are going to encounter interactivity and AJAX controls and interoperability with browsers that are familiar to them. They are simply going to encounter all of that in an environment that accelerates the use of those tools and services and the incorporation of that functionality."

He said that the solution includes collaboration, visual modeling and retext coding tools, as well as libraries and controls, and that the environment will be "very familiar to developers who are PHP or JavaScript or .NET [coders]."

Ball distinguished Bungee Connect from mashup development tools of the past couple of years, which he described as "explorational," using a la carte toolsets for personal productivity or fun.

One catch is that applications developed using the system must run on a Bungee-hosted environment. The apps are not portable outside the Bungee Connect system, even though the developer owns the rights to them.

The pricing for the system is modeled on the utility-based collecting model. You don't pay for infrastructure costs or by developer seat. Bungee Connect clients only pay as their end users use the applications that were created using the system.

"There's absolutely no cost for using our rich development and testing environment," Ball explained. "So you can log on and build an account and build any number of enterprise applications with any number of developers at absolutely no cost. When you publish that Bungee-powered app on the Bungee-powered hosting environment, then you pay for only actual use."

The cost for a high-end business application might range from $1 to $5 per user per month, Ball suggested. An individual e-commerce transaction may cost from one to two pennies per transaction, he added.

"It's a model that we didn't invent," Ball said. "Amazon has the same collecting model [for its storage on demand service]."

Jeff Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies Inc., a consulting service centered on software-as-a-service technologies, described Bungee Labs' cloud development support model as currently a small part of the overall SaaS industry.

"There is a small but growing number of companies offering pay-as-you-go development platforms in the 'cloud'," Kaplan stated via e-mail. "The most prominent example is Amazon.com. There are also open source communities, like www.sourceforge.net and www.dotnetnuke.com, which offer Web-based development toolkits."

A free sign-up for Bungee Connect is available here. For more on the company's platform-as-a-service concept, go here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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