exo_logo_2010.jpg One thing is certain about eXo’s newest announcement: There isn’t room for even one more buzzword. The company, known for its enterprise portal platform, has announced a private beta of its (wait for it) "cloud hosted social development platform for quickly developing  and deploying mashups in Java platform-as-a-service environments." That’s pretty impressive buzzword density. The announcement might be good for invoking a sarcastic snicker about overzealous marketing teams, if the verbiage didn’t describe exactly what eXo (newssite) has managed to create. 

Development for the Cloud in the Cloud

With everything from operating systems to CRM moving to the cloud, it was only a matter of time before development tools found their way into the cushy accommodations. eXo, known for its enterprise portal platform, has announced a private beta of its cloud-hosted integrated development environment (IDE) along with version 3.5 of  its portal platform, which has been rebranded as a “multi-tenant user experience platform (UXP) for Java systems.”

In January, we reported on the initial release of the Java cloud IDE machine image for the Amazon Elastic Beanstalk. eXo’s Cloud IDE provides developers with a browser-based development environment for wiring REST services, gadgets and mashups. The tool has also grown beyond its initial Amazon Elastic Beanstalk support, and can now be used to build applications for any Java platform-as-a-service (PaaS) such as VMForce, Google App Engine, Cloudbees and Salesforce acquisition Heroku. 

eXo Cloud IDE interface

The Cloud IDE has features that rival locally installed development tools, but is enhanced with features suited to creating PaaS applications. The Cloud IDE allows developers to deploy within a PaaS environment, which reduces the effort required for migrating from development to staging and deployment. In addition, the eXo development tool offers:

  • A web development platform with support for core technologies such as HTML 5 and web services
  • A multi-tenant environment
  • Source control integration
  • Activity streams, wikis and forums to support developer collaboration -- think Facebook for coders

We spoke with Benjamin Mestrallet, eXo's CEO, regarding his vision for the new offering. Mestrallet said,

We wanted to create something enabled developers to be really productive in the PaaS environment. We observed how developers were naturally working and tried to build a tool that supported it. Extending the benefits of PaaS all the way down to the development experience just makes sense.”

The Cloud IDE is the first component of eXo’s Cloud Services, a set of free services to improve the PaaS development experience. eXo has committed to releasing additional services throughout 2011.

The Software Previously Known as an Enterprise Portal

In addition to the Cloud IDE, eXo has announced a beta release of version 3.5 of the eXo Platform. eXo is referring to the latest portal release as  a multi-tenant user experience platform (UXP) for Java systems. eXo is using the UXP concept to refer to an evolution of the enterprise portal technology with an increased focus on consumer web technologies such as social networks, activity streams and wikis.

The goal of the new eXo Platform release is allow organizations with an investment in Enterprise Java to more easily develop, extend and deploy enterprise portals, gadgets and mashups within a private cloud or in PaaS environment, and the Cloud IDE is the first step toward fulfilling that strategy. 

eXo Platform 3.5 architecture

As depicted in the architecture model for 3.5, eXo is building a multi-channel delivery system on top of existing middleware and enterprise Java investments. eXo plans for version 3.5 to be generally available the second half of 2011 and will continue to release new milestone features until that time.

Getting the Tools

eXo Cloud IDE is available now for private beta. However, eXo is accepting only a limited number of developers. Developers can request participation at http://www.cloud-ide.com/. eXo will notify candidates upon approval. After a confirmation process, the company will provide login credentials to a dedicated development environment.

Has the time come for cloud-based development? Is the eXo move the first in a trend to move delivery off the desktops for more spacious accommodations? As always, time and the market will decide.