I Just came across an interesting post by Josh Heitzman who writes about his negative experience with Google App Engine, which led him to examine a list of Alternatives to Google App Engine. He points out GigaSpaces XAP as one of them:
platform that provides in memory transactions backed up to a database.
The in memory transactions appear to scale linearly across machines
thus providing a distributed in-memory datastore that gets backed up to
persistent storage. A lot of the docs reference Java, but the page
returned by the aforementioned link states “…deploy applications that
use Java, .Net, C++, or even scripting languages…” so after a cursory
investigation it is not clear what aspects of their platform is only
accessible via Java and which aspects are generally accessible. Bears
[See my comment to the post relating to the question about .Net and C++ support]
Josh’s post raises the question of what is Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)?
Platform-as-a-Service is a term used to describe a new set of development platforms that are typically accessible through the web. These platforms enable you to develop new applications easily, without the need to install any software or set up a development and deployment environment. A good example of this is Force.com from Scalesforce.com. Other SaaS providers have similar platforms. It seems that the common motivation behind this trend is to enable the SaaS provider a way to expose their internal framework to other partners and users and build an eco-system around their SaaS product. This led to the emergence of dedicated, proprietary platforms. Google App Engine is a similar effort from Google initiative to expose some of their own platform to external users.
These platforms, as Josh experienced, were not designed as a general purpose enterprise platform, and therefore, it is not surprising that they lack many of the elements that you would normally expect from enterprise middleware, such as transaction support, security and standard APIs.
Unlike such Internet based platforms, GigaSpaces XAP was primarily designed as an enterprise middleware platform. It is used in the most demanding mission-critical applications that require extreme scalability and low-latency. During the past year we have extended our middleware platform to the Internet cloud, starting with tight integration with Amazon EC2 and followed with partnerships and integration with leading players in the market, including GoGrid, Joyent, RightScale, CohesiveFTand others. We recently launched our cloud framework in private beta. It enables building enterprise applications on GigaSpaces XAP via the internet. In this way, you can run an application on a hosted GigaSpaces environment, without even downloading the GigaSpaces software.
What makes GigaSpaces XAP an alternative to Google App Engine for the enterprise?
- Support for existing enterprise applications:
One of my previous posts discussed: Google App Engine – what about existing applications?
In this post, I want to reiterate this point, which goes to the heart of one of the main differences between GigaSpaces XAP and most Internet based PaaS, including Google App Engine and Force.com. Many enterprise applications are already built in Java, .Net or C++. To support enterprise applications, you first need support for these core languages. GigaSpaces XAP not only supports these languages, but also enables efficient interoperability among them.
- No vendor lock-in:
While I would argue that lock-in is unavoidable at some level, and that every platform imposes some lock-in, I’d also argue that it is important to examine the nature of the lock-in, and how easy it is to migrate from one platform to another. With XAP, we invested heavily in making lock-in minimal through abstraction, aspects, support for standard APIs and more. As of 6.6, we users can take existing web applications and deploy them on our platform without touching the application code. You can read more about this in: Can scaling be made seamless?
To make things easy, we published a migration guide that shows step-by-step how you can take existing transactional JEE applications and deploy them on our platform (locally or on the public cloud). We measured the performance and scalability gain you get by running JEE applications on GigaSpaces XAP versus traditional JEE application servers. We ran the exact same application code on both platforms and measured at least 5 times better scalability efficiency and performance increased as outlined here. We also published a new “pet clinic” demo that comes with source code, configuration and documentation, and can be used as a reference guide for running standard JEE application with zero or with minimal code changes. This reference implementation is available here.
- Designed to support both local enterprise clouds and Internet clouds:
Although GigaSpaces can now run entirely on a public cloud, such as EC2, it is clear that many enterprises are not ready to run on public clouds, but would rather run their apps on an on-premise, private cloud. Supporting this requires existing development tools used to develop enterprise applications. XAP enables use of common development frameworks (e.g., Eclipse, Maven, Ant, in Java; and Visual Studio in .Net). You can write, test and debug your application locally and then deploy it on the cloud for testing or for production. You can decide at any point where you want to deploy your application, whether on a public Internet cloud, or on a private cloud in the corporate data center. You can also create a hybrid model that involves both a public and private cloud simulataneously.
- Enterprise-grade reliability and scalability:
Many of the assumptions the platforms operate under are not acceptable to enterprise-grade applications. GigaSpaces XAP was designed to meet the most demanding requirements for maintaining both scalability and 24/7 high-availability without losing any data and without compromising scalability or performance.
This is only a partial list of differences, but I think that it makes clear how GigaSpaces is different than most Internet-based PaaS offerings, including Google App Engine.
You can read more about our cloud offering on gigaspaces.com/cloud. If you are interested, try out our new Cloud Framework and see for yourself how easy it is to set up a production-ready cluster with load- balancing and scalability within minutes.