Morph Labs and its Turnkey Web Delivery Environment

by Ostatic Staff - May. 06, 2008

One of the big challenges for delivering rich, scalable applications on the web is building out web delivery environments. At the JavaOne conference this week, Morph Labs and Webtide have announced a proposed solution to this problem for developers of Java applications: The Morph Application Platform for Java. If you're familiar with how Software-as-a Service (SaaS) applications work, you can think of this new effort as a Platform as a Service (PaaS). It virtualizes an application environment and leverages cloud computing resources such as the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Now in limited developer preview, this new platform is based on open source.

“The Java market is clamoring for a solution that matches our Ruby on Rails Platform as a Service,” said David Abramowski, CEO of Morph Labs, in announcing the offering. “By adding Java support to the Morph Application Platform we are ahead of Google’s App Engine, which only lets developers write web applications in Python with caveats. We know that great software requires open, standards based environments and that is exactly what we are delivering.”

If you're unfamiliar with Webtide, it is behind Jetty, an open source web container implemented in Java. Webtide will offer conversion packages and expert support subscriptions for developers using the Morph Application Platform for Java. Webtide already offers these for distributions of Jetty to auction houses, banks and online services, including Zimbra's open source Collaboration Suite and Desktop.

The Morph Application Platform gives developers a web application environment that includes load balancing, already built-out infrastructure, distributed computing, virtualized web stacks, databases, managed backups and monitoring. Among other things, developers will be able to deliver applications on it without investing in hardware. Find out more at the project's site.

As I watch these efforts to provide developers with ways to flip a switch and have access to a web delivery environment, and cloud computing efforts such as Amazon's, I'm hoping to see more turnkey ways to deliver the actual applications that exist in the environment. To make clear what I mean, consider Community Engine, which bills itself as "The Instant Social Network."

Community Engine is a free, open source plug-in for Ruby on Rails applications. If you have just the beginnings of a social networking application built, for example, you can flip a switch with Community Engine and it will create all the components you would expect to find in a more built-out version of your social network. These include authentication, user profiles, user search, photo uploading and tagging etc.

It's interesting to envision the worlds of turnkey web delivery environments and turnkey site build-out applications such as Community Engine coming closer together. This kind of hookup could make it easy for almost anyone to deliver very scalable, rich web services and applications.