PaaS vendor AppFog acquires Nodester

AppFog, the Universal PaaS company formerly know as PHP Fog, has acquired Nodester, a framework-specific PaaS vendor for Node.js (server-side javascript) applications.

AppFog is essentially acquiring two things

  • A customer base
  • A server-side technology implementation for WebSocket

As part of a general trend for platform-specific and language-specific PaaS to be subsumed by Universal PaaS, Nodester customers will eventually be migrated onto the AppFog Universal PaaS platform (based on Cloud Foundry).  As a per-requisite for that migration, Nodester’s implementation of WebSocket will be ported onto AppFog.

WebSocket is a trendy technology which allows Javascript components running in a browser to open state-full “sockets” through a web server on port 80 (etc.) alongside the stateless HTTP protocol, thereby removing the requirement on the client side to manage asynchronous callbacks on XHR calls.

Node.js is widely used with WebSocket but there isn’t an actual implementation as part of the out-of-the-box Node.js, and AppFog is thus acquiring Node.js to gain such an implementation which it can then wrap into AppFog, allowing Nodester customers to migrate to the Cloud Foundry based mainstream AppFog product, as well as providing a WebSockets implementation to its existing AppFog customers.

Nodester is a bit of a poster boy for Node.js, and has generated significant traction through it’s leadership on the Node community. The acquisition of Nodester’s customer base is important at this stage because it drives momentum in a Cloud Foundry derivatives marketplace which is characterised by a number of small start-ups, and by VMware (who are still in Beta).

Momentum obviously brings mindshare, but real customers also bring additional leverage in the discussions with the IaaS vendors on which Cloud Foundry derivatives are typically hosted.  The more customer volume, the higher the discounts the PaaS vendors can get from the IaaS vendors, and thus the more margin they have to play with in pricing their offering to end-users.

All-in-all we think this is a smart move from the AppFog side, in acquiring technology and customer base and a leadership position in Node.js, and from the Nodester side it’s the right exit. It wasn’t going to survive with a platform-specific PaaS in the PaaS endgame.

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