If you're a startup on the cutting edge of web application development, you've got a plethora of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings to choose from. Using PaaS makes a lot of sense as the natural next step in cloud technology.
Infrastructure as a service really pioneered the cloud revolution. Now it's possible to grow the entire web environment on demand, using an OpEx model instead of a CapEx model, conserving those precious angel or A round funds for the really important things, like social marketing and release parties. (Remember those?)
But plain old IaaS still leaves you having to install and configure all the platform software you needed to get your website going, and that's a PITA that no one needs, especially not a lean startup. So PaaS solutions stepped in. PaaS targeted at startup development provides an end-to-end development and deployment solution, including everything from an editor to on-demand continuous builds to platform provisioning to operational scalability.
But, with the current crop of PaaS solutions - and they are excellent tools, by and large - you have to 100% buy in to the particular PaaS approach. Maybe you have to pick a particular IaaS, like EC2. Maybe you have to build with Jenkins, or commit to Git. Those are all good choices. But what if you can't use those? Like if you're an enterprise developer who's working in an established environment, even if you've got the opportunity to do something exciting and new.
When you're working in an operational environment, as opposed to a web startup, you need to be able to work with the existing tooling and processes that your organization has in place already. Here at TIBCO, we use mainstream tools like Subversion for version control, Ant and Maven for build, Hudson or Electric Cloud for continuous integration, and VMWare and Xen for private cloud IaaS. Those tools may have been cutting edge when we adopted them, and they are still totally effective for us. We don't have the luxury of retooling an environment with several hundred engineers and - though I hate to admit it - probably even more build artifacts.
What an established software development shop needs is a way to start using PaaS in private cloud or public cloud environments, without having to throw away the investment in development tools. TIBCO Silver Fabric provides exactly that capability in a private cloud environment, integrating with your preferred IaaS solution, be it VMware or Xen in private cloud, or EC2 in public cloud, and your preferred build and integration tools. That's because TIBCO Silver Fabric is "pure" PaaS. We don't make demands on your continuous integration, by forcing you to select Jenkins over Hudson or Electric Cloud. We don't make demands on your version control, by forcing you to pick Git over Subversion or Perforce. And we don't make demands on your IaaS, by forcing you to pick EC2 over VMWare or Xen.
TIBCO Silver Fabric is purely focused on platform provisioning - starting with the IaaS layer and then adding the middleware that you need for your app, - and "continuous deployment" the ability to rapidly and repeatably deploy your apps onto that provisioned platform. It's the best of both worlds for enterprise developers. You get the flexibility of PaaS, with the stability of your existing enterprise environment.
I'm really looking forward to writing more about the reasons why we designed TIBCO Silver Fabric the way we did. But I'm looking forward even more to bringing the capabilities of public cloud inside the firewall to enterprise developers -- and maybe we will go out into the wild and see what we can do for those startups too.