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Heroku floats heavenly Python into platform cloud

Engine Yard adds JRuby to fluffy JVMs

The polyglotting of platform clouds continues apace, with the Heroku platform-as-a-service cloud, owned by, announcing support for PHP, and with PaaS competitor Engine Yard adding support for JRuby.

Heroku, which deploys its PaaS layer on top of Amazon's EC2 compute cloud, already supports Ruby, Node.js, Clojure, and Java. In a blog posting on Wednesday, Heroku cofounder Adam Wiggins announced that Python and its related Django web framework could now be run atop the Cloud Application Platform.

Wiggins said that Python was "the most requested language for Heroku", and that PHP and Django support was in public beta starting yesterday. He also gave a concise assessment of why Python matters.

"As a language, Python has much in common with Ruby, Heroku's origin language," wrote Wiggins. "But the Python community has its own unique character. Python has a culture which finds an ideal balance between fast-moving innovation and diligent caution. It emphasizes readability, minimizes 'magic,' treats documentation as a first-class concern, and has a tradition of well-tested, backward-compatible releases in both the core language and its ecosystem of libraries. It blends approachability for beginners with maintainability for large projects, which has enabled its presence in fields as diverse as scientific computing, video games, systems automation, and the web."

It apparently went without mentioning that Google App Engine runs Python. When you compete with Google in the platform-service arena, as Heroku is trying to do, you have to do what Google does – and do it better. Google App Engine supports the Python, Java, and Go programming languages, and it's fair to say that Google would have been happier if everyone loved Python, but knows that it has to support other languages, and will add more to App Engine as time goes by.

Just like Heroku will.

"We anticipate that Python will be one of the most-used languages on the Heroku platform, and are overjoyed to welcome our Python brothers and sisters into the fold," said Wiggins.

Back in June, Heroku rolled out improved support for Ruby as well as embracing Node.js, an event-driven, server-side JavaScript platform. A month later, Clojure, a variant of Lisp intended for multithreaded programming that runs inside of a Java virtual machine, was seeded into the Heroku cloud. Back in June, Wiggins said that Heroku supported over 105,000 applications created by over 50,000 programmers.

Engine Yard rolls out JRuby

Engine Yard, which runs its own platform cloud on its own iron, decided in January 2009 that it would use its PaaS smarts to deploy Ruby on Rails on Amazon's EC2. Today, Engine Yard said that JRuby, which is an implementation of Ruby that runs inside of a JVM, is available on its platform cloud. Engine Yard employs three of the four contributors to the open source JRuby project: Thomas Enebo, Charles Nutter, and Nick Sieger.

Engine Yard is giving away 500 hours of compute time on its eponymous platform cloud for free, which you can sign up for here.

Like other platform clouds, Engine Yard has to become a polyglot if it hopes to be more than just a niche PaaS. That's why Engine Yard used some of its venture capital hoard a month ago to buy Orchestra, a PHP platform cloud operator based in Ireland. Orchestra runs its PHP platform cloud atop EC2, and about half of Engine Yard's capacity is on EC2 nodes at this point, as well. ®

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