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Heroku makes play for enterprise, adds Java

Heroku took a firm step into the enterprise this week by announcing support for Java.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Heroku platform started in 2007 as the home of the upstart Ruby language, but 20 months after being acquired by, the Platform as a Service provider has made a decidedly enterprise move -- expanding to Java.

Heroku announced its decision to support Java at's Dreamforce 2012 conference.

"We've heard from customers pretty clearly that they're really looking for a polyglot platform; looking for multi-language support," said Heroku Chief Operating Officer Oren Teich.

Jesper Joergensen, senior director of products at Heroku, agreed that Java was the next language to support. "Java is really vastly more popular than any other language in [the] enterprise. Enterprises use other languages, but Java is really the 800-pound gorilla in there."

Both confirmed Heroku users and prospective customers had been asking for Java. The call was loudest amongst enterprise customers. Joergensen sees this as an opportunity to expand Heroku into new enterprises, especially those that are still unsure about cloud.

"They're asking the question, 'How does [Java] look in the cloud?'" he said. "These are the things that need to be there to deploy it; where are they?"

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Joergensen answered with an explanation of what "full-stack Java" will mean in Heroku. It includes native Java tools like the Eclipse plug-in, which developers can use to create and deploy in Heroku, a continuous delivery framework through Atlassian's Bamboo, Tomcat Web application container, support for the most recent Java Development Kit (JDK) builds, and other popular Java services.

He highlighted the Eclipse plug-in as being key for developers because it is consistent with what they are already doing.

"The Eclipse plug-in doesn't change how you develop, which is very important," he said. "[Developers] can deploy to Heroku using version control [or] they can deploy using continuous integration."

Joergensen believes the continuous integration automation from Bamboo is critical because it allows for continuous delivery with Heroku run-time.

Adopting Heroku

Customers have been asking Heroku for Java, but not all are expected to jump on board at once. Joergensen rejected notions that anyone with an existing IT setup is going to jump to the cloud all in one motion. He said it's key to attract customers entering the right stage of the application lifecycle.

"A very, very large portion of enterprise applications live on a four- to five-year lifecycle," he said, adding that he's spoken with numerous customers who said they do not feel compelled to move to cloud because an application built within the last year or two was running fine on-premises. "Customers are looking for guidance, they are looking for advice on what is the right strategy to move to the cloud."

He does believe that people looking at new projects will be more inclined to look at Heroku now that Java is a part of the platform.

"Supporting Java does mean that we tap into the existing skill sets and assets of the enterprise," he said. "If you really want to do that now, you have a better opportunity to do that than ever before."

Adam Riglian is a news writer with Follow him on Twitter @AdamRiglian.

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