A new integration from Facebook and Heroku gives Facebook developers direct access to Heroku’s cloud Platform-as-a-Service offering for hosting their applications. The goal is to make life as easy as possible for developers by eliminating hassles associated with actually running an application once it’s written. And it’s likely just a first step for Heroku when it comes to integrating with popular specialized development platforms.
Writing Facebook applications is actually easy enough, Heroku co-founder Adam Wiggins told me during an interview, but Facebook has been working to ease the burden of running them. When Heroku launched its Facebook App Package last year, I asked if it could become the official cloud of Facebook. Maybe it has done just that.
Now there’s an option within the Facebook development platform to launch an app on Heroku. In fact, with the push of a button, apps are up and running on Heroku without ever taking developers off the Facebook site. It’s only afterward that developers have to log in to Heroku to set a password and add additional tools or services.
As with all things cloud computing, the benefit for developers is not just automating the hosting process but also the promise of being able to handle unexpected traffic spikes. For individual developers, Wiggins said, the integration will let their apps keep up should they suddenly get popular. Businesses get the same benefit in terms of elasticity, he added, which lets them make social media inroads without buying and provisioning pools of servers in advance.
Facebook, of course, has a large developer community and represents a potentially significant source of new customers for Heroku, but Wiggins said it’s probably just a stepping stone for more-specialized integrations. He noted mobile apps as an area with particular promise — a possibility I highlighted in a recent GigaOM Pro report (subscription required) — but added that specialized offerings, in general, are easier to sell to specific developer bases than are general-purpose offerings.
Facebook developers can start using the Heroku integration on Thursday, and Heroku personnel will be at next week’s F8 conference to address questions or issues that arise in the meantime.