AppFog Wants To Do For Developer Platforms What Google Did For EMail

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AppFog is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider that wants to do for developer platforms what Google did for email.

GMail launched in 2004 by giving its users  a distributed service with 2 gigabytes (GB) of free disk space. Search made it possible. It disrupted competitors like Hotmail that provided a measly 2 mb of free space.

Today AppFog is offering 2 GB of RAM for free. It is the first PaaS provider to offer a  RAM based service that starts with such a large free amount. You can use the service as much as you want and never pay a dime until you use 2 GB.  Users get load balancing, multiple instance scaling and failover to different infrastructures  in case of problems. AppFog is available on Amazon Web Services, HP, Rackspace and Windows Azure.

Other service providers range in price from $58 per month up to $360 for 2 GB RAM.

This is AppFogs’s  attempt to commoditize PaaS in the same way Google commoditized email.

AppFog Founder and CEO Lucas Carlson said PaaS users are getting penalized for becoming active users. The Instagrams of the world are not using PaaS in part due to the cost that comes with the PaaS services. Reliability and performance issues further aggravates the problem.

Reliability issues have been a persistent problem for infrastructure providers such as Amazon Web Services. Users never know when a a disaster may affect service  or operations mistakes will be made. Interoperability is difficult betweeen vendors.

AppFog’s service extends across different infrastructure services. It does this by using CloudFoundry, VMware’s PaaS, as the universal API to multiple infrastructure environments. That allows the service to exist on any infrastructure without the complexity that usually burdens the customer.

For instance, pricing can get quite complex. Pricing calculators are the norm. Customers get confused as the contracts are different from the one they were accustomed to with their on-premise environments.

AppFog abstracts the complexity. Users do not have to have contracts with infrastructure providers. The RAM customers use can be subdivided among providers.

Google used its search to disrupt the old, file-based model of organizing data. Search replaced the file folder metaphor.

If AppFog has its way, RAM will be the new metaphor, replacing virtualization as the common way to calculate pricing and use of an infrastructure environment.