What do SendGrid, a mass e-mail sending service, and Tropo, an API for telecommunications, have in common? Both are part of a growing software category called infrastructure apps.
Infrastructure apps are not to be confused with infrastructure-as-a-service. The term, coined by Gary Orenstein of GigaOM, refers to applications like SendGrid, Tropo, New Relic and Loggly that provide some sort of essential infrastructural service to other applications. Whether it's logging or security or geolocation, these apps can take a lot of pressure off a small development team. Infrastructure applications let your own application developers focus on their own strengths and creating the best product they can.
But are these sorts of services becoming commoditized? Two events, both in separate subcategories of the infrastructure apps space, doesn't make a trend. But it does highlight an issue for developers of these services. Small development houses want cheap services, and cheap IaaSes make it possible for competitors to spring-up with new infrastructure apps.
SendGrid is already facing steep competition in the e-mail space. Will infrastructure apps be the new hot cloud service sector?