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Joyent floats commercial support for production Node.js apps

Head to head with StrongLoop for Node.js business customers

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Updated Joyent, one of the main sponsors of the Node.js JavaScript-based server-side application platform, has announced that it will soon offer commercial support for the technology.

A midsized cloud infrastructure company, Joyent has long offered various tiers of Node.js support for customers of its own IaaS offerings.

It has also provided plenty of financial backing for the project. Node.js creator Ryan Dahl was a Joyent employee when he came up with the technology in 2009, and current Node.js project gatekeeper Isaac Schlueter works there now.* In fact, Joyent describes itself as "the corporate stewards of Node.js."

But Tuesday's announcement marks the first time the company has extended its support to Node.js users who prefer to host their applications in private data centers or on other companies' clouds.

In a blog post, Joyent's Ben Wen said that the company still plans to participate in the volunteer Node.js support community, which already includes numerous blogs, chat channels, and wikis. But Joyent's new offering, dubbed Node.js Core Support, will provide an additional level of support for commercial environments.

"If you are a developer that plans to run, or are running business critical Node.js applications in production, you may need more direct and immediate expert support," Wen observed.

The offering is described as "an analysis and troubleshooting service" for the core Node.js binaries and library APIs, as provided on the official Node.js website. Users of custom-built binaries or modified code are on their own.

Joyent says it will support these products running on Linux, Solaris, and the OpenSolaris derivatives OmniOS and SmartOS – the latter being Joyent's own offshoot of the former OpenSolaris code base.

Details of what will be included in the support offering are not yet available, but Wen said Node.js Core Support would be a subset of what the company offers customers of its own Compute Service or SmartDataCenter products.

Joyent's move will see it competing more closely with StrongLoop, a company founded by core Node.js developers that already offers a commercially supported distribution of the platform. The two companies have occasionally clashed in public forums since StrongLoop's launch, with StrongLoop claiming to be "the primary code contributor to Node.js," while Joyent employees refer to Node.js as "a Joyent-sponsored project."

In truth, employees of both companies contribute heavily to the Node.js code base, but there seems to be no love lost between the two camps. In one recent incident, Joyent's Bryan Cantrill referred to a code change by StrongLoop's Ben Noordhuis as "gobsmackingly inappropriate" and "a fireable offense," and described Noordhuis as an "asshole."

So far, however, StrongLoop appears to be taking the announcement in stride. In an email to El Reg, StrongLoop CEO Isaac Roth said the company was "thrilled" to compete with Joyent.

"The more there is a commercial ecosystem around node.js, the more businesses can be secure adopting it for their next project," Roth wrote. "As the saying goes, 'a rising tide floats all boats'."

Mind you, it will be a while before customers will be able to compare the two companies' offerings. Joyent's Node.js Core Support is not yet available, but its product page says it's scheduled to launch in January of 2014, at a cost of $990 per month. Interested customers are advised to sign up on Joyent's website to be notified when the service goes live. ®

* Update

An earlier version of this article indicated that Node.js creator Ryan Dahl still worked for Joyent. Joyent PR has since let us know that although Dahl originally stepped down to pursue research projects at Joyent, he later left the company and no longer has any involvement with Joyent or Node.js.

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