The New Stack | July 21, 2015

Apprenda Raises $24 Million, Makes Added Container Support a Priority

Platform-as-a-service-vendor Apprenda has closed off a $24 million funding round led by Safeguard Scientifics, with participation from New Enterprise Associates and Ignition Partners.

The Troy, N.Y.-based company, founded in 2007, previously had raised $31 million in three rounds, bringing its total financing to date to $56 million.

…“If you look at any of the companies in our customer portfolio — JPMorgan, McKesson or whoever — they’re all trying to get to the cloud, but they’re doing it in different ways. We’re one of the few technologies that bring the cloud to them in a meaningful way.

“The past 12 months have been completely crazy, the number of inquiries we get from people trying to build environments like this using our technology have gone through the roof, so it seemed time to start capitalizing the company for a big growth spurt,” he said.

The company’s first goal, he said, is to be the world’s most compatible PaaS, built to support everything upstream and downstream from it.

“One of our biggest assets … is that we’re highly compatible with what you already have, so we focus solely on .NET and Java. They’re the two most important stacks within the enterprise.

“When we talk about compatibility, we ask, ‘Can the customer take the technology and install it on top of what they already own, whether it’s OpenStack or VMware or Microsoft or even bare metal?’ So we keep building out our ecosystem of partners so we can deliver on that vision.

“We care not only about net new application that developers are building today, but the thousands of apps in these companies that are already there. We want to take all the existing IP that you have and help you run in a cloud-like way. Part of this new investment will go toward building out capabilities to support all vendors the enterprise currently works with.”

Apprenda’s version 6.0, released in April, included support for Docker containers, IBM’s WebSphere Application Server, as well as additional authentication protocols such as OAuth2, enhancements to log management and improved support for JMX application monitoring.

With the new funding, Apprenda plans to deepen support for WebSphere and other IBM technologies, invest in integrations with various security-related technologies and “invest in evolving our Docker support to be the only viable way to adopt containers in the enterprise.”

The company also will invest in expanding its workforce. It employs about 90 people between its Troy and Manhattan offices, and plans to add 50 more, with 20 to 25 of them to be developers.

He said the company views its primary competitors to be Red Hat and Pivotal, though he describes them as being “very prescriptive” in the technology to be used and to be largely focused on new development. Apprenda is focused on helping customers use what they have, but in a modern way.

“With a large organization, it’s almost impossible for them with tens of thousands of customer applications to just dismiss 15 years of investment they’ve made. That’s a really hard pill to swallow,” Schuller said.

Apprenda is benefitting from its timing and the DevOps movement toward faster releases and iteration, greater responsiveness and quality, according to Jay Lyman, research manager for cloud platforms at 451 Research.

When the DevOps movement began five years ago, it was largely Linux-specific, using tools like tools like Chef, Puppet and Ansible, with little support for Windows, ActiveDirectory or .NET.

“Now Microsoft technologies are very much a part of the DevOps movement and very prominent in PaaS. Apprenda benefits from that. Though they support various languages now, it comes from a core of .NET support,” he said, adding that even Chef and Puppet have been adding .NET support.

“Most of the mainstream enterprises are adopting DevOps, and most of those organizations have mixed environments. With all this variation with languages, frameworks and databases, Java and .NET still tend to be the enterprise mainstays,” he said, noting that Apprenda’s support tends to go deep.

He called containers the X factor in the PaaS market. Docker, he says, emerged as a better way to address the polyglot challenges, though there are things you can do with PaaS that you can’t do with containers.

“We do see some of the container platforms emerging as a threat there, though,” he said, though he envisions a future with containers and VMs very much like what exists between VMs and physical servers.

Schuller has called the functions of PaaS and containers “complementary”:Apprenda’s PaaS manages the interaction between the developer and the infrastructure, while the container manages the relationship between the app and infrastructure.

Even with their deployment advantages and isolation, containers still require orchestration, security, policy-based management, and configuration management to be even minimally viable for the enterprise, according to the company. Apprenda provides a single cloud model for both containerized and non-containerized cloud assets.

Explains Lyman: “With supporting different languages and frameworks, the bar has been lowered for doing that with containers — and also through APIs. That’s really what’s driven polyglot to some extent. I don’t really have to be a Ruby or Python expert to use some Ruby or Python components in my application.

“It opens up the possibility for developers, but becomes a real challenge for the central organization to manage. Many central IT organizations in the enterprise are only geared to support a couple of languages, Java and .NET, and sort of standardize on that. That’s no longer very feasible, because you do want to open yourself up to these other languages, frameworks, components because the advantages are worth it.

“So that’s where a lot of this need for PaaS is coming from – go ahead and use and sanction all these other things – but you’ve got some third-party help, a third-party platform to help you do it.”

Last October, Apprenda added support for JBoss and Apache Tomcat web servers, offering deeper support for more Java applications, as well as added support for Oracle Java Management Extensions (JMX).

It announced in June that it’s now supported on VMware vCloud Air.

Apprenda’s integration ecosystem now includes connection points to NetApp, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, New Relic, and CloudMine.

In December, it partnered with Piston Cloud to help software development teams build Java and .NET cloud applications and microservices faster in a hybrid cloud environment. (Piston Cloud has since been acquired by Cisco.)

HP, too, with added support for hybrid infrastructures, has been focused on helping companies migrate to the cloud without throwing away all their current infrastructure.