Large companies such as Microsoft and Google aren't the only ones getting attention from the surge in interest around cloud computing. RightScale, a startup that offers developer tools for setting up server clusters that run on Amazon Web Services, secured $4.5 million in first-round venture capital funding from Benchmark Capital on Thursday.
While venture capital firms have been good to software-as-a-service startups in the past few years, the RightScale investment is one sign that VCs are beginning to recognize the "platform" technology providers for SaaS and other Web applications. "RightScale's platform has very quickly become the defacto standard in cloud computing management and provisioning," said Kevin Harvey, a Benchmark Capital partner, in a statement.
The company's technologies include a dashboard, open source components, and a design environment that developers can use to set up and manage server clusters on the Amazon Web Services. A cluster could include a Web server with front-end load balancing, MySQLdatabase replication and backup, and grid frameworks for compute-intensive batch processing. The service is designed to reduce the time and technology staff needed to set up Web applications and Web sites on the Amazon platform.
RightScale offers a "unique offering in a market that is evolving rapidly," Harvey said.
Cloud computing continues to gain steam. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a software, services, and a development platform called Live Mesh. The platform aims to give people centralized configuration and remote control of devices and data from Web-based and client software, and a Web desktop. It also aims to give developers the power to write Web applications with offline and synchronization capabilities and client apps that can be extended to the Web and other devices.
Last week, Google announced Application Engine, which lets developers create and host Web apps that use a variety of online services, such as a distributed data store and replication and load-balancing services. Developers write applications in Python and can create links to other Google services, such as its authentication platform.