The corner of cloud computing known as platform as a service has been heating up over the past year, with new products and projects coming online that are aimed at abstracting away application deployment details and enabling developers to focus primarily on their code.
Early on, most platform as a service (PaaS) options have favored languages such as Java and Python, paired with largely open-source application stacks. With the exception of Microsoft's own Azure service, most of the PaaS focus has been aimed away from Microsoft's .NET framework and its corresponding stack.
Recently, however, this situation has been changing, with the emergence of .NET-targeted options such as Apprenda Inc.'s Apprenda 3.0, which enables organizations to deploy their own .NET PaaS atop the Microsoft Web application stack.
Apprenda 3.0 is private PaaS, which can be installed either on a company's on-premises infrastructure, or in a public cloud, such as Amazon's Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) service. Organizations install the Apprenda software on one or more machines, and the product arranges the application and database server components into a single hosting platform.
I tested Apprenda 3.0 on a single Windows 7 machine in our lab, with a focus on the developer-facing aspects of the product, such as its amenability to hosting pre-existing applications. I found getting up and running with the product easy. It was also easy to deploy standard .NET applications with only modest modifications.
Based on my tests, I recommend that individuals and organizations deploying .NET applications take Apprenda out for a spin themselves to determine if its deployment model can make their lives easier, and free up more time to focus directly on their applications.
Fortunately, the product is easy to try out. The Express version of Apprenda is free to download and use, but is limited to 12GB of RAM across the cluster of systems managed by the product. Pricing for the full version of Apprenda is based on the amount of RAM in one's managed cluster. For more information on the two versions, see this rundown at the Apprenda Website.