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Bungee Labs betas IDE to grid flowgasm

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If you're just thinking about software-as-a-service, then you're a slack-jawed rube. You can have an entire platform-as-a-service with a little effort.

Bungee Labs this week opened up access to its PaaS, which the company calls Bungee Connect. Customers can turn to Bungee Connect for software development and then host their applications on Bungee's hardware. End-to-end software flowgasm? You betcha.

The company announced Bungee Connect last April via a private beta. And now here we are almost a year later with a public beta. A proper version of the service should arrive next year.

We thought the beta process rather protracted, but a couple of marketing Bungees assured us that a two-year wait is pretty good for a Web 2.0-style company. Some companies remain in beta for like four years, we were told. So in the world of Web 2.0 waste, a two-year beta is apparently an achievement.

Anyway, the Bungee Connect software looks solid enough. You get a slick IDE that lets multiple people work on the same projects and that provides easy access to databases from other software-as-a-service players such as Salesforce.com.

Customers can move from the IDE to deploying an application through the Bungee Connect system. The software goes out to one of three Xen-on-Linux data centers, and Amazon's EC2 service is available on tap as well should you need disaster recovery to meet surging demand.

When Bungee's service goes live next year, it plans to charge $1 to $5 per user per month. There's no software or developer license costs. You basically just pay for hosting and actual usage. All told, you're looking at less than one cent per transaction, according to Bungee. Good stuff.

A lot of the Bungee basics look pretty sound, although there's an awful lot of Web 2.0 fluffery surrounding the company. Take, for example, this two paragraph pounding from a statement issued this week.

With Bungee Connect, developers and IT managers can now leverage a completely on-line platform to build and deliver powerful, AJAX-enabled, multiple data source web applications. Bungee-powered applications may be embedded within other web applications and pages, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, or delivered as stand-alone web destinations. Bungee Connect and all Bungee-powered applications are accessed through Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari with no software download, install or plug-in. Bungee Connect is the first end-to-end Platform-as-a-Service for professional-class web application development and delivery.

"Cloud computing, internal-external mashups and online business services are hastening the need for new business models that can support entire application lifecycles," said Dana Gardner, principal analyst of Interarbor Solutions. "It's not enough to develop as a service, or to deploy as a service—the fuller cost-benefit payback comes from the application lifecycle as a service. All the better that costs to support the applications from inception to sunset are commensurate with use and demand. Enterprise IT innovators and efficiency-minded independent developers alike should view the Bungee Connect model as the platform and mashup approach of the future."

Could Gardner drink any more Kook-Aid? Yes he can.

Anyway, Bungee is showing off its IDE prowess by touting an application called WideLens. It's a really fancy calendar that connects Microsoft Exchange, Salesforce.com, Google Calendar and other corporate calendars into a single spot. "WideLens and other included reference applications provide examples of integrating multiple databases and web services; end-user authentication; and numerous dynamic user interface presentation patterns," the company said.

We asked if Bungee plans to offer an off-line version of its software, so you can code with total freedom. But we were told that today's developers don't care about offline nonsense and are fully committed to a SOAPy, service-oriented world.

We also asked whether or not customers will be able to pull their software and services from Bungee and move over to some other company's platform. The Bungees said you can kind of do this by "exporting the logic you have created, so you can understand how your application works." They also reminded us that there's always a penalty to pay when you move from, say, .NET to another platform. Why should the X-as-a-service world strive to be any better?

Bungee seems to have the development pieces that Amazon's EC2 data center-as-a-utility service has been missing. And other companies such as Sun Microsystems are coming up with similar software to fill this gap.

Customers interested in testing out Bungee get a decent deal during the beta period, since the company will host your applications for free. But, then, what else would you expect?

You'll need to drop your e-mail in their contact box to get going. ®

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