What About Focus?
For those not familiar, Heroku and Engine Yard offer Platforms as a Service (PaaS). Engine Yard started off focusing on Ruby on Rails, but recently acquired Orchestra and added PHP support, and announced support for MongoDB and PostgreSQL 9.
Heroku started as a PaaS for Rack compatible projects, but has added support for Java, Clojure, and Node.js applications.
You get the picture? Heroku and Engine Yard started with a pretty sharp focus on one area, and have been expanding pretty steadily as they've grown. As they expand, you have to wonder if it will dilute their focus.
Heroku founder Adam Wiggins says no. "Heroku is a true polyglot platform. Our general-purpose runtime is completely language-agonistic. Support for each new language is a very thin adapter that invokes the build process specific to that language's tool chain. This makes it trivially easy to add new languages (which is how we've been able to roll out five new languages in the last two months, with many more coming) without diluting our single, unified platform."
Mike Piech, vice president of product management and marketing for Engine Yard says that while the company is expanding its scope, it's keeping its focus on expertise. "Deep expertise in building a world-class platform as a service, deep expertise in helping developers use the platform, and deep expertise in the platform stack – initially Ruby, and now including PHP. Much of our platform orchestration technology is stack agnostic. The stacks we choose to support are ones where there is significant market opportunity and where we provide compelling value that is substantively backed by deep expertise."
The days of the single-language/single-focus PaaS seem to be drawing to a close, though. If you look at Heroku, Engine Yard and Red Hat's up-and-coming OpenShift, it's all about providing a huge toolset. Is this a good thing?