Veteran PaaS player Engine Yard claims big momentum

Engine Yard, the popular platform as a service, said its revenue doubled year over year to $28 million in 2011 and the number of paying customers rose 50 percent to 2,000 in that time. The privately held company would not comment on profitability.

There is definitely more interest in PaaS by developers who don’t want to worry about hardware and software infrastructure — the scaffolding of development. They want to focus on their key concern: developing and deploying applications.

Engine Yard started out as a Ruby-oriented PaaS but added support for other languages including PHP via its acquisition of Orchestra last August.  In November, the company plugged the popular Node.js server-side framework into its PaaS as well.

The demand for PaaSes may be growing but so is the number of contenders for that business. Engine Yard competes with multi-language PaaS from AppFog and Heroku, now part of (s crm) and VMware’s(s vmw) Cloud Foundry.  (Some other PaaS players still concentrate on supporting one language well — as Cloudbees does with Java.)

Mike Piech, VP of product management and marketing, for Engine Yard, said there’s plenty of business to go around as more companies, and different types of companies, move workloads to PaaS. “If you think of the value of PaaS, you’re offloading everything except the app itself — the load balancing, the application servers, the web infrastructure to someone else so you can focus on innovation and time to market — that’s valuable to many types of companies,” he said.

Early traction came mostly from Web 2.0 companies but now Piech said enterprises of all kinds are hiring developers to work on their behalf using PaaS infrastructure.

He said there might be a shake out in the segment but said that will affect lower-end, less mature options. “We’ve been in the business six years, through a couple of generations of PaaS. We’ve built the expertise and our clients have grown up with us,” he said.

While industry giants VMware and have built (or bought) PaaS power, other huge contenders include Microsoft (s msft) with its Windows Azure service. Given all that consolidation, it will be interesting to see how smaller, independent players like Engine Yard will fare going forward.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user dandeluca