LongJump is an impressive PaaS vendor that could give Salesforce.com a run for its money in the enterprise.
Cloud computing is emerging as a hot trend to go beyond packaged SaaS applications to write custom applications completely in the cloud. Or, to rent computing power and storage as a utility. In my article Fasten Your Seat Belts. Cloud Computing Will Change the Way You Do Business, I wrote about about two leading PaaS (Platform as a Service) providers–Salesforce.com and Coghead.
Salesforce.com is taking the platform used to deploy its CRM application and making it available to developers to write custom applications, using the proprietary Apex language.
Pankaj Malviya, CEO and Founder of LongJump, is taking a similar path as Salesforce.com in some respects. LongJump’s PaaS offering is based on the platform used to deploy Relationals, a CRM application that has been successful in the media industry since 2003.
In 2007, Malviya decided to focus the private, not venture-backed company on the platform itself. And so LongJump was born.
LongJump’s PaaS offering is mainly targeted to big IT shops and ISPs—perhaps in part because the custom code you can write in LongJump is standard Java (J2EE) which is popular with large enterprise developers.
This is not to say that smaller organizations can’t or shouldn’t use it. Per user pricing is just $19.95/user/month for a one-year contract, including access to all available applications, 50MB of data storage and 250MB shared document and file storage. That’s a pretty good deal, and a price point much lower than Salesforce.com, which charges $50/user/month for the Force.com platform only.
From a demo I saw, it seems developers can easily create custom applications, using a combination of data objects, workflow, business rules, etc. And custom Java code if you need it. I can envision developers creating fairly complex applications in a few days, and deploying immediately via the cloud.
From a technology standpoint, I’d say LongJump is on a par with Salesforce.com’s Force.com platform. Both are powerful and built to support enterprise-grade applications. But marketing is a different story. Salesforce.com has a huge customer base, a big brand…and Benioff’s big mouth. LongJump is a bootstrapped operation that doesn’t have the funds to do big bang marketing to drive growth.
So, Malviya is taking more of a partnering approach, which I think makes a lot of sense. And, he hinted of more deployment options available for corporate IT shops in the future, which could provide some differentiation from other PaaS vendors.
LongJump strikes me as one of the real gems in the cloud computing market. Assuming it can execute its marketing strategy well, I think it will attract developers who like the robust platform, easy-to-use interface and standard Java code for customizations.