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Perl and Python float on open source VMware cloud

ActiveState heavy-lifts so you don't have to

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PHP might dominate the web LAMP stack, but ActiveState is taking steps to fluff the two other dynamic languages that put the "P" in LAMP: Python and Perl.

On Thursday, the company released an early implementation of VMware's open source Cloud Foundry, which ActiveState promised would help reduce the effort of migrating Python and Perl apps from a VMware environment behind the firewall to a public or private VMware cloud.

ActiveState's implementation, a service it calls Stackato, also introduces early tooling to debug and test new applications built using Python and Perl for VMware clouds.

Stackato also works with Node.JS, the fashionable server-side JavaScript platform based on the Google V8 JavaScript engine. Node.js is being hailed as what Ruby on Rails could or should have been.

ActiveState has got plenty of customers on Python and Perl, but it's taking stab a node.js because it looks interesting, not just because it was supported in the original VMware code. "We believe it's going to grow in usage," director of engineering Jeff Hobbs told us.

Hobbs said Node.js looks promising because it's easy for those who are familiar with Javascript and who have never worked with a server-side languages - like Java - before.

The one thing ActiveState's not in a hurry to embrace is PHP, which dominates web programming and is the other P in the Linux, Apache and MySQL stack. Tactfully, Hobbs tells us: "We are not really ignoring PHP, it was not a first priority item."

VMware opensourced Cloud Foundry last month under an Apache 2 license on GitHub, with the virtualization giant spinning up its own beta service for potential customers.

Cloud Foundry lets you set up and manage clouds as a platform service running on a VMware hypervisor. It's build to work with different Virtual-Machine-based languages, development frameworks, and databases. It features a controller to store information about users, provisioned apps, services, and maintain the state of each component, there's a router and a provisioning agent.

Just like Amazon's cloud, the VMware based code is rather basic and if you want language-specific features, then you need to start adding your own. That's where ActiveState has stepped in, bringing its focus on two of the languages it loves most.

ActiveState claims two million developers using its distributions of Python and Perl, with Perl getting the larger share of code and tool download each month from ActiveState's site.

Stackato lets you port Python and Python apps from an existing VMware vSphere cluster to a VMware cloud with "minimal" re-engineering, ActiveState claimed. To help in the porting process, ActiveState has added extensions to the VMware client and server that will seed your database, putting the data in the correct rows and columns and filling it in a way Hobbs said won't expose you to SQL injection attack down the line.

Database engines supported include MySQL, PostgreSQL and VMware's Redis.

On debugging and testing, Hobbs told The Reg, ActiveState has extended its existing Komodo IDE so you know you are building an application that's going to be deployed in the cloud rather than on your own servers, somewhere behind a corporate firewall. Using the basic Cloud Foundry code, you have to debug by working through log files.

Debugging is "still a little rough", Hobbs conceded, but the goal is to create a rich coding and debugging environment for Perl and Python in the cloud, along with Node.js. The code works in house, he said, and ActiveState is hoping for an alpha in the next month.

With Stackato ActiveState is turning Cloud Foundry into more of a vehicle for Python and Perl. While PHP dominates the web, it cites significant interest from corporates with Python and PHP apps in the cloud. It had looked at developing a similar service until VMware the released Cloud-Foundry building blocks. Updates to the Cloud Foundry code in Stackato could find their way back into the main Cloud Foundry code, Hobbs said.

Active State is targeting the kinds of enterprise customers who are building systems such as CRM in Perl and Python that interact with the web and want to embrace the cloud. However ActiveState's also looking to the world of new web development and hosted development teams. Hobbs points out Mozilla's Bugzilla application development management server and the OTRS open-source help desk that are written in Perl. And don't forget that Google's AppEngine also features a dedicated Python runtime environment, with a fast Python interpreter and Python standard library.

By fluffing Python and Perl with Stackato, ActiveState is targeting the developers' developer, the person building development infrastructures for coding and hosting by their programing peers it seems. ®

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