Progress Launches PaaS For Mobile, On-Premises Apps

Progress Software uses Rollbase acquisition to announce Pacific platform-as-a-service for cloud and mobile apps.
Microsoft has platform-as-a-service. VMware has PaaS. Savvis has PaaS. Why shouldn't Progress Software have PaaS too?

The other parties offer PaaS as part of their cloud service offerings. Progress, until now, hasn't been viewed as either a cloud service or cloud software provider. That's why it needs PaaS. Earlier this month, Progress announced its Progress Pacific PaaS system for cloud application and mobile developers. The system won't become available until July.

Progress already has a presence in on-premises development. The company name springs from what was originally the Progress 4GL language, which it changed in 2006 to OpenEdge Advanced Business Language (ABL) to escape the limitations of being classified as a fourth-generation language. However, ABL maintains an English-like syntax and access to a built-in relational database, like its 4GL predecessor.

But Progress has constantly expanded the capabilities of OpenEdge until it's become a combined language and workflow platform from which business processes may be designed and programmed.

[ Want to learn more about why one cloud provider turned to PaaS? See What Savvis Cloud Services Gain From AppFog. ]

Phil Pead, Progress CEO, said in an interview that Pacific is a rapid application development environment hosted on Amazon Web Services. The name Pacific, an unusual choice for a Boston-area company, reflects Progress' acquisition of Rollbase in the San Francisco Bay area. Rollbase was a Saratoga, Calif., supplier of a browser-based PaaS, which emerged one year after Progress had launched OpenEdge ABL. It features an HTML and JavaScript environment for developers with a limited knowledge of programming languages like C and Java. Progress acquired Rollbase June 10.

Rollbase remains available as a separate product, but its capabilities will be incorporated into Pacific.

"We were limited by our ABL proprietary language that we had pioneered a long time ago," said Pead. "Not that many people are learning ABL in college," he conceded. ABL included SpeedScript, a little known scripting language, which is likely to be replaced by users with industry standard JavaScript.

Progress has a large customer base used to gaining access to the data through its Progress language and using another Progress product, DataDirect, to make connections between its applications and many data sources. Support for both of these features has been incorporated in Pacific, which features drag and drop development capabilities along with the ability to define data sources at the time of deployment.

Applications may connect to popular software-as-a-service applications, on-premises ERP and CRM applications, relational databases, and NoSQL unstructured data.

Pacific also includes support for the Corticon rules engine, which Progress acquired in December 2011. The cloud-based development environment includes the ability to use a rules engine to define a system user's permissions to access data sources. The role-based permission system can be used in other ways to arm applications with the limits on what their users may do.

Pacific can generate applications that work with most mobile devices as well as previously developed OpenEdge applications on premises, Pead said

"We're very excited by the opportunity in the application development/database space," said Pead. Previous versions of OpenEdge ABL have been designed for the small teams of developers typically found in an enterprise or device manufacturer setting. Pacific is a full, multi-tenant system for hundreds or thousands of users, with an elastic database service capable of meeting the demands of a user-intensive transaction application, he said.

Pead said Progress will define pricing for Pacific when it becomes generally available in July.