ElasticBox looks to ease repetitive dev chores

Credit: Elasticbox

And $9 million in new funding will help.

ElasticBox is taking a fresh approach to easing some of the ongoing pain around app development within enterprises. The company, which has been around since 2011, is announcing today $9 million in new funding from Intel Capital and Nexus Venture Partners.

ElasticBox is off to a slow start -- the company has only around a dozen paying enterprise customers -- but the new funding is designed to help grow sales and marketing efforts, which could help put it on the radar of enterprise developers.

Many of the new breed of cloud offerings have tried to simplify app development. For instance, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings like Amazon Web Services take the pain out of the repetitive and typically agonizingly slow process of spinning up compute resources for developers. Similarly, backend-as-a-service (BaaS) offerings make it easier to replicate common functions in mobile apps, like sign-in or messaging, that look the same from app to app but take time to create each time.

ElasticBox is now trying to make it easier for developers to pull together the basic building blocks required to build an app. Before developers can get started building a new app, they have to install things like web servers, app servers, and databases. "Then you can begin writing code," said Ravi Srivatsav, CEO of ElasticBox. "This process has not changed in years. There have been advancements in configuration management but you still have to do a lot. It's repetitive and error prone."

With ElasticBox, a developer can build "Boxes" that contain fully configured components of an application architecture. Users can combine Boxes, which can be be built for databases, webservers, middleware, languages, runtimes and more.

Developers can reuse Boxes, which are available as a service, as well as share them. Users of an existing Box can modify it how they like. When ElasticBox is deployed by an enterprise, IT can create a service catalog with approved components that developers can choose from when creating Boxes.

ElasticBox has integrated with a number of cloud services so that developers can run the app they build on top of Boxes on any of the integrated clouds and easily move the app among them. That means a developer can do test and dev in Amazon Web Services, for instance, and then move the app to an internal VMware-based cloud for production.

The integration with the individual cloud services doesn't happen within each Box, but rather via the ElasticBox service. That's how developers can move an app, which could be running on multiple Boxes, to a new cloud without having to rework anything, Srivatsav said.

ElasticBox has integrated with OpenStack and VSphere for internal clouds as well as AWS, Azure, Rackspace, HP's OpenStack cloud, and Google Compute.

In an enterprise deployment, ElasticBox integrates with Active Directory or an LDAP directory, where IT can set policies for individual users. For instance, a marketing engineering team might only have permission to deploy apps on AWS.

Netflix, which is known for being forward thinking in the use of cloud technologies, has been an ElasticBox customer for about a year. It has created a service catalog of all the platforms, run times, and underlying infrastructure that its developers are approved to use to build Boxes, Srivatsav said.

Individual developers can use ElasticBox for free, contributing Boxes that they create and consuming those that others create.

Enterprises pay on either a per app or per developer basis.

ElasticBox has only a handful of paying customers, but Srivatsav said that the service has supported 5,000 to 6,000 deployments, so it's possible that it has many more individual developers using the service for free.

Offering the free service helps ElasticBox seed its catalog, making it increasingly easier for developers to use the service because they can access Boxes that have been created and contributed by others. Still, the company will have to attract and show off more enterprise customers in order to pick up some traction. It has been talking about Netflix as a customer since last year and enterprises are sometimes shy about signing up for an unproven idea without seeing their peers do the same.

The new funding might help. With it, ElasticBox plans to expand its current two-person sales team, do more marketing, and continue to invest in development. The company previously raised $3.4 million from Intel Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, and Sierra Ventures.

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