A Philippines-based Web 2.0 start-up called Morph Labs Inc thinks its cloud can rain on Google’s newfangled App Engine.
Morph Labs was founded by Winston Damarillo, the guy who did Gluecode, the only open source company IBM ever bought, a move made to protect its precious WebSphere franchise.
The start-up claims to have done all the back-end scutwork to make it easy for developers to get their software up and running as a service on Amazon’s Web Services (AWS), freeing them from Google’s Microsoft-like vendor lock-in.
With App Engine a developer has to use Google’s authentication, Google’s framework, Google’s file system, Google’s database, Google’s APIs, Google’s storage and Google’s pet language, without hope of ever moving the widgetry, once it’s running on App Engine, to another platform.
And if your software is on App Engine, you can’t execute user-specified maintenance tasks.
Morph promises to deliver the same SaaS effect as App Engine using open source software like PostgreSQL on Amazon. No proprietary database, no proprietary APIs, no proprietary framework. And Morph, unlike Google, can tell developers now what it’s gonna cost.
Morph is renting infrastructure from Amazon – Amazon’s Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3) – and using its own homegrown virtualization to carve it up and lease it out.
CEO David Abramowski called it “time slicing the grid.” Morph can put eight application instances on an Amazon server.
Its so-called Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), called simply the Morph Application Platform, promises to instantly provision an enterprise-quality application environment as large as needed to meet real-time highs and lows on-the-fly thanks to EC2 and starts at a dollar a day in production for two instances. Ten can cost $8-$240 a month.
A development account, including an app server, a database server, load balancing, backup, routing and testing, is free.
AWS director of developer relations Steve Rabuchin says Morph-based applications “can be delivered and scaled to millions of user in minutes.”
Morph is supposed to save developers the time and expense of harnessing Amazon’s infrastructure, a task that’s supposed to take – by Morph’s calculations – two systems specialists two weeks (four man/weeks) to set up five servers: two load balancers, two app servers and a database server.
Using Morph developers don’t need to buy or lease hardware or install or configure software.
They are supposed to be able to focus instead on business logic, application presentation and strategic differentiators – to innovate rather than administer. Load balancing, security, monitoring and high availability are built into the Morph platform.
And the move from sign-up to SaaS deployment is supposed to take minutes.
Morph’s patent-pending Application Platform is supposed to provide each application with its own web application delivery stack, access to high-speed caching, database instance, multi-tenancy APIs, search services, e-mail gateways, OpenID services (or the ISV’s own authentication), backup and recovery, file storage, auto-repair, 7/24 alerting et cetera et cetera.
Morph also has a billing scheme, something Google hasn’t mentioned.
Abramowski, a Symantec veteran, said data can be imported and exported at will.
While Google’s App Engine only supports applications written in Python 2.5, Morph currently supports Ruby on Rails and will add PHP in June and Java this summer.
Morph Labs has filed to go public on the Philippine Stock Exchange this quarter planning to raise $11.9 million by offering about a third of its equity to finance its global expansion.
It’s already picked up a $1.5 million pre-IPO investment from Hong Kong-based AO Capital Partners and Japan-based CSK Venture Capital.
Morph thinks it can capture 23% of the $120 billion US software market by 2010. At least that’s what it’s telling would-be investors.
Springboard estimated the Asia-Pacific SaaS enterprise applications market in 2006 at $154 million and figures it’ll grow by 66% by 2010 to account for 15% of the total enterprise software market.
Gartner puts the worldwide SaaS market at $12 billion in 2012, up from $6.5 billion last year.
Morph claims that about 120 SaaS developers, representing 300 apps, recruited from Ruby user groups, are currently testing or deploying AppSpace, which was just announced in early February. It’s got one interactive database application serving 20,000 users, Abramowski said.
The service is available through an online marketplace for SaaS applications called Morph eXchange, according to Abramowski, and a subscription to Morph AppSpace, an instance of the Morph Application Platform.