Fortune | April 28, 2015

Why writing software is no longer just for software companies

If you look at the mainstays of the Fortune 100, even manufacturers associated more with the Rust Belt than Silicon Valley know that software is a big part of their business. Scratch a car company and a software company will bleed, albeit one that is writing software for internal use or to embed in its vehicles. This is a trend that companies like … IBM, Microsoft, and HP are all banking on.

Count Apprenda in those ranks as well. The Troy, N.Y. company offers technology — dubbed Platform as a Service — that business customers can use to create and maintain specialized software. Apprenda’s PaaS can run in a company’s internal data center for IT folks still not comfortable with public cloud infrastructure. And, it can run on public clouds such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. Or both.

Now, to help large corporate customers still leery of giving up control of their IT departments to the public clouds, Apprenda is supporting Docker containers. Docker is the latest software darling coming out of Silicon Valley because it lets developers write applications and assign them just the resources they need, all in one efficient package. This is seen as more efficient than running multiple applications in a virtualized manner becuase the virtualization layer soaks up system resources, dinging application performance.

Docker makes it easy for software developers to write applications that run in both in the cloud and on-premises, said Apprenda CEO Sinclair Schuller via email. “The problem is that Docker alone is a bit like the wild-west: you can do whatever you want. Unfortunately, most large corporations can’t allow that sort of flexibility because of the inherent risk it comes with.”

To be sure, pretty much the entire software universe has blessed Docker already, but Apprenda’s pitch is that it supports a wide range of underlying technologies running in customer sites. … Apprenda, supports Java, Microsoft .Net, OpenStack and a raft of foundational technologies from different vendors, and just added IBM to the mix with support for IBM WebSphere application servers.

The fact that Microsoft and IBM offer their own PaaSes shows just how intertwined, not to mention confusing, the software universe is but that is the reality.