I'm at CloudConnect in Santa Clara this week, looking to pick up on the latest news in the Cloud world. (I'm also signing copies of my new book and speaking tomorrow, April 4th, so please stop by). I chatted with a fellow from Heroku, a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) company I hadn't been very familiar with. He clued me in on some of the cutting-edge work they're doing.
First, when you think PaaS, you typically think all-Java or all-Microsoft. Not so with Heroku. It supports Ruby, Python, and several other languages. The next preconception about PaaS is that it's for development, test, and deployment, but not for production. Again, not the case with Heroku. Many customers are running their live apps on the platform.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect to the Heroku offering is the Cloud-centric context of the platform. Instead of the typical "just like developing in-house, only in the Cloud" pattern we like to call the horseless carriage, they have defined new concepts that fit into the elastic nature of the Cloud.
For example, at the core of this new vocabulary is the notion of a dyno: a lightweight, virtualized Unix container running a specific command. These dynos are the Lego blocks that you use to construct the most complex and distributed of applications. But the Heroku story doesn't stop there. Check out their website for more information.