So far it's worked for American Internet Services (AIS), a San Diego cloud service provider that focuses on cloud offerings in Southern California and specifically for life sciences companies. AIS is one of Appcara's earliest commercial deployments and CTO Steve Wallace says he was looking for a way to more efficiently manage the large number of applications the service provider hosts for clients.
"You may not realize the true potential of this until you really try to scale up," he says. The traditional server-template model, he says, requires manual configuration of the hardware to the specifications of the application. "If you're working with 80 Web servers that all need to be configured, you're talking about not only a time-consuming, error-prone process," he says. AIS is using the Appcara platform to manage its applications that run its cloud offering and those for customers.
Appcara announced last week it would be releasing the second version of its software, AppStack 2, in July, which will incorporate a marketplace where dozens of applications will already be pre-configured for use in the Appcara software. Other applications can be integrated to work on the software as well.
William Fellows, an analyst at The 451 Group's 451 Research, says Appcara's offering is unique in its use of a database model, without having server templates be the main tool for application management. But, he says, Appcara has a crowded field it's going up against.
"Enterprises are looking for ways to extend on-premises environments into the cloud," he says, validating the level of interest seen by players managing cloud applications. Competitors Fellows cites include RightScale, AppZero, rPath, CohesiveFT, Racemi, Arago, VMware through its WaveMaker product, DynamicOps, OutSystems, Makara, Mendix and Verizon/Terremark, with the company's CloudSwitch technology. Appcara, according to Fellows, says that other offerings still require "extensive scripting" of the application, which Appcara claims to automate.
The emerging platform-as-a-service market could also help enterprises better manage application management. In a PaaS environment, the application is built and lives in the cloud, creating some native level of cloud optimization. "Appcara says its dynamic approach trumps template approaches, provides workload portability and enables service providers to onboard multi-tenant clouds such as CloudStack," Fellows wrote in a recent report on the company.
The company is young though, and still only has about 50 customers. It has raised about $2 million in venture capital financing, including a funding round in the past few weeks. But application management, Fellows and Wallace agree, will continue to be an emerging area as enterprises continue to use SaaS-based services in the cloud.