Makara Builds a Cloud for the Java World

A few years ago when working for Wily Technologies (acquired by CA), Issac Roth, then an enterprise application management expert, became increasingly frustrated with how long it took to develop and deploy applications inside an enterprise. He watched his friends develop web applications and run them off Amazon’s cloud services. He decided to do something about it — in 2008 he left his job and started Makara, cloud application platform that essentially allows application developers to create, develop, test and deploy Java and LAMP-based applications. Makara, based in Redwood City, Calif., is backed by Sierra Ventures, Shasta Ventures and has also received angel funding from Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, who together co-founder Opsware. The company has raised $6 million in total funding thus far.

While companies like Eucalyptus allow enterprises to create private clouds, Makara is a private cloud-based “platform as a service” offering focused on the enterprises. It is to the Java-oriented enterprise application universe what Heroku is to the Ruby community. The enterprise PAAS market is going to be a fiercely contended market, Roth predicted. He wouldn’t be surprised to see Heroku, Engine Yard, RightScale and others try and move into this market. Even VMware (s VWR) is moving into this market. And yet he’s not worried.

“There is going to be a tenfold increase in the apps, and we need a faster deployment platform, which goes along with easy development, and today it takes a lot of work in trying to get the heavy [corporate] machine to move faster,” said Roth. He said that the app developers and system admins were all heading toward a wall, and “what I wanted to do was build a set-up that moved from manual to self-service.”

Just as on the web, enterprises are also seeing a proliferation of mobile, social and mashup-type applications, though many of them use more traditional programming languages such as Java. Makara is going after this market. The company is going to launch Makara Cloud for JBoss tomorrow at the JBoss World show in Boston.

Roth gave me a demo of his offering. It was very impressive in its simplicity, and it was easy to deploy servers and storage (on demand.) The dashboard that comes with the service has most of the management features that meet the stringent requirements of corporate IT departments.

You might have heard about recent agreements between VMware and (s crm) and Google (s goog) that allow Java apps to run on and Google App Engine. Those are new Java-based apps written for these specific platforms, Roth pointed out, while his company actually allows older JBoss applications to be ported and modified to Makara’s platform.

Many of the old enterprise applications are hand-coded and have specific bindings to storage for example. If Makara were to succeed, Roth knew he had to keep everything working. Roth was able to figure this out by spending a lot of time in data centers of top Fortune 500 companies, and understanding how their applications were deployed. So far, five large enterprises are testing the platform. “We spent nearly a year trying to move apps to our platform,” he said. And because of that his customers can move apps on the fly.