Heroku Raises $10M for Its Ruby Platform

Heroku, a platform provider built on top of Amazon’s EC2 compute infrastructure, has raised $10 million in its second round of funding, bringing its total investment to $15 million. In the last six months, the Heroku platform, which was developed for Ruby on Rails applications, has seen the number of apps it hosts rise to 60,000 from 40,000. The funding led by Ignition Partners with participation by existing investors Redpoint Venture Partners, Baseline Ventures, and Harrison Metal Capital, will be used to develop a channel partnership strategy and to expand the marketing of the Heroku platform, which competes with other platforms such as Google’s AppEngine and Microsoft’s Azure.

“We don’t think the market is going to end up with a Ruby platform and a Java platform and a PHP platform,” Byron Sebastian, Heroku’s CEO, said to me in an interview. “People want to build enterprise apps, Twitter apps and to do what they want regardless of the language.”

Sebastian said he sees the round as a huge validation for the Ruby language as a way to build cloud-based applications, but doesn’t want to tie Heroku too closely to Ruby. “The solution is going to be a cloud app platform, rather than as a specific language as a service,” Sebastian said. In the last few weeks, Heroku announced that it would provide experimental support for node.js, but Sebastian stopped short of saying that Heroku was adding support or planning to add support for Java, PHP or anything else.

He did say that Heroku, while built to run efficiently on top of Amzon’s EC2 service, would eventually also be hosted on other clouds. That would be a way to differentiate Heroku from competitors that are closely tied to the infrastructure of one company, such as Microsoft’s Azure. His multi-infrastructure effort might be validated by VMware’s recent decision to host a SpringSource Java platform on the Salesforce.com infrastructure creating VMforce.

“I think the genius of Microsoft was that it recognized that you should separate the operating system from the PC itself, so the hardware vendors can focus on the hardware, and we think that’s a reasonable way to think about this market going forward,” Sebastian said.

With $10 million, a planned channel partner strategy to deal with multiple software vendors that recommend the platform to their clients, and rapid growth, we’ll see if Heroku’s bets on separating itself from the infrastructure, and downplaying Ruby while emphasizing the ease of the platform in general, is the way to go. For more on what users want when it comes to choosing a cloud, check out our “Different Clouds, Different Purposes: A Taxonomy of Clouds” panel at our Structure 10 event June 23 and 24th in San Francisco.

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