LongJump Addresses 'Long Tail' of IT Development
- By John K. Waters
With so many cloud-computing initiatives on the horizon these days it's a wonder the National Weather Service hasn't issued more storm warnings. The latest addition to the accumulating cumulus comes from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider LongJump , whose model for rapid application development promises clear skies for developers.
The company's just-released LongJump Development Suite is an easy-to-use, graphical, Web-based application development environment. Aimed primarily at IT shops and ISPs using Java EE, it offers a set of business-ready building blocks designed to enable developers to reuse chunks of code. The suite comes with a plug-in to the Eclipse IDE and a visual, browser-based UI for data and process modeling; all coding is done in Java, JSP and HTML. An included set of Web service integration points uses SOAP and RESTful APIs to connect to external systems or platforms.
LongJump's founder and CEO, Pankaj Malviya, said the toolset grew out of his personal frustration as a developer and architect. Before founding LongJump, he worked on CRM at HP, and then served as software architect at Internet Devices and Jareva Technologies. "Every time we sat down to create an application we were reinventing the same things over and over again," he said. "It was such a waste of time!"
LongJump is a subsidiary of a company called Relationals, which has been in the CRM business since 2003. The LongJump group emerged in 2007 to provide its PaaS offering based on the platform used to deploy Relationals CRM app.
"You can think of LongJump as a platform and a service," Malviya said. "But you can also think of it as an application server that offers the multi-tenancy from scratch. What we are doing is seeking to capture the hearts and minds of developers and businesses alike."
LongJump's pitch is very straightforward: Most businesses focus their resources on the big stuff: ERP systems and enterprise architectures. The smaller stuff, which usually involves custom applications, is doled out to contractors, which often results in information silos that reduce visibility and throw a wrench into the data management gears. This is what Malviya calls "the long tail of IT development." The phrase is borrowed from author Chris Anderson's concept of a niche business strategy in which products that are in low demand collectively make up a big market share.
"IT is always running a backlog of custom applications that aren't mission-critical," he said. "That's the ‘long tail.' We give them an environment in which they can create and manage custom applications -- apps from the edge, composite applications, mashups -- all from within LongJump."
LongJump's offering is all about customizable, reusable application building blocks, including objects, scripts, component extensions, business logic, data policies, and workflows. Once data models and processes are created, these building blocks -- which the company calls "LongJump Objects" -- can be reused across the platform. A contract object and its records, for example, can be created and reused by the sales team, the guys in business development, the compliance group, the legal department, and finance by modifying data policies and workflows. When LongJump Objects are extended they are available for integration with SOAP and REST APIs, workflow processes, and the built-in report creation wizard.
LongJump's PaaS offering lines up in the market against Salesforce.com's Force.com development platform. The Salesforce approach involves a proprietary language (Apex Code), while the LongJump platform is more standards-based.
Malviya and company's decision to take the founder's frustration into the cloud bodes well for the company. Cloud-gazing industry watchers are expecting big things from companies in this space. Analysts at Gartner included cloud-computing among their top ten strategic technologies for 2008. Merrill Lynch expects the annual global market for cloud computing to hit $95 billion within the next five years.
A free, 30-day evaluation copy of the LongJump Development Suite is available for download here.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached