Apprenda, a provider of platform-as-a-servivce stack for .NET, recently closed a $10 million Series B funding round led by Ignition Partners. We talked with Apprenda CEO Sinclair Schuller about why enterprises should consider the private PaaS.
Q: Apprenda describes itself as a private PaaS provider for .NET. What is private PaaS?
Shuller: PaaS is best understood as a service that abstracts away the details of the network from the developers and application end users. With PaaS, developers can “self-service” an entire application stack, allowing them to upload applications to the PaaS, and with a button click deploy the application and have it scale ready without having to worry about server or application configuration, load balancer configuration, or anything else. A PaaS then provides the developers with tools to trivially manage the entire lifecycle of the application. More advanced PaaS offerings even go as far as providing APIs that expose complex cloud features that help a developer tackle complex requirements. As a layer of abstraction, PaaS ensures that the application is the currency of choice, and not the infrastructure. This boosts developer productivity, reduces time to market, and total cost of managing and maintaining an application.
A private PaaS is the same concept, but hosted by an organization for its internal developers. A Fortune 1000 company, for example, might employ hundreds or even thousands of developers that write internal software, which is hosted on thousands or tens of thousands of internal servers. A private PaaS aggregates all of that infrastructure as a single, internal PaaS that is self-service and accessible to the internal developer community. Interestingly, PaaS is not something that comes out of thin air. A PaaS is a software technology that aggregates infrastructure and presents that infrastructure as a self-service system—stack, APIs and all. Nothing about the software engine behind a PaaS inherently requires it to be public. A PaaS software technology, if built in a flexible way, can be deployed on any infrastructure, thereby making private PaaS a reality. Companies such as Apprenda are focused not on offering clouds, but rather, providing the engine that can be used to deploy thousands of cloud services.
What’s the benefit of private PaaS over public PaaS for enterprises?
Shuller: Clearly, the PaaS value proposition of low-friction application deployment and management is intriguing to enterprise software developers. However, for a variety of reasons—ranging from security concerns to bandwidth and latency concerns—a majority of their apps cannot be deployed to a public PaaS. A private PaaS hosted by the organization’s IT department gives those developers access to the core value proposition—which is provided by the low-friction management of applications, shared environment, standardized architecture and modern cloud APIs, not the outsourced hosting—without the public PaaS hurdles. Developers from various lines of business can log in to their PaaS, upload apps, and at a button click, deploy those applications. No more waiting 60 to 90 days for infrastructure and setup that they experience via the current OS and server focused model. Private PaaS enables an organization to treat applications as the primary currency rather than infrastructure.
Why did your company decide to focus on .NET?
Shuller: The .NET community represents approximately 40 percent of all software development. Microsoft has continued to display excellence in its ability to evangelize developers and keep pace with market change. Developers appreciate the holistic stack provided by Microsoft, rather than deal with the intricacies of fragmented stacks and too many choices prevalent in other stacks such as Java. As a startup, we needed to choose a stack that would allow us to maintain laser focus on providing value to customers and not be distracted by fragmented distributions that did not have a viable private PaaS solution. Through .NET, we can guarantee compatibility and consistency for all customers, and we also know that we lead the pack with respect to .NET-focused private cloud solutions.
What are the plans for the new funds?
Shuller: Our series B round equips us to more aggressively expand our customer base and evolve the product to stay two steps ahead of both market need and competitive evolution. We will be expanding our field sales and marketing teams, as well as bring on new engineering talent to take our private PaaS value to the next level.