On Saturday, GigaOm published a blog post I wrote entitled Who Will Build the LAMP Cloud? Please read the full post, but I basically ask in it the title question and speculate on potential candidates and players including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Heroku and Zend.
But apparently there may be a more fundamental question: does anyone want a LAMP cloud?
My rationale for asking the original question was as follows: There are platform-as-a-service plays for popular application stacks such as Java (VMForce.com and Google App Engine), .Net (Microsoft Azure) and Ruby-on-Rails (Heroku and Engine Yard), so why not the LAMP stack? After all, it is one of the most popular technology stacks on the web today.
But in the very first comment, Kiril Sheynkman questions the need for a LAMP cloud altogether, with the claim that LAMP is losing its relevance and being rapidly replaced by other components. For example, he lists MongoDB, CounchDB and Cassandra as alternatives to MySQL -- the M in LAMP.
James Urquhart picked up on this comment and posted Does cloud computing need LAMP? in which he writes:
I have to say that Kirill's sentiments resonated with me. First of all, the LA of LAMP are two elements that should be completely hidden from PaaS users, so does a developer even care if they are used anymore? (Perhaps for callouts for operating system functions, but in all earnestness, why would a cloud provider allow that?)
Second, as he notes, the MP of LAMP were about handling the vagaries of operating code and data on systems you had to manage yourself. If there are alternatives that hide some significant percentage of the management concerns, and make it easy to get data into and out of the data store, write code to access and manipulate that data, and control how the application meets its service level agreements, is the "open sourceness" of a programming stack even that important anymore?
I agree with James that in a PaaS offering, the developer shouldn't care about the underlying infrastructure, and therefore, the L(inux) and A(pache) in the stack are less relevant. This brings me to something that may perhaps seem like a nuance, but may be important: perhaps my original question should have been: "Who is building the PHP cloud?" and not LAMP.
In fact, if you keep scrolling down in the comments to my GigaOm post, you'll see an interesting one from a fellow named Brian McConnell. Brian writes that he currently uses Google App Engine with Python. He goes on into some detail about the benefits of GAE, which are essentially the selling points of PaaS over IaaS. But he concludes with the following:
I’ll probably stick with App Engine and Python for a while since things are working well and it ain’t broke, so it don’t need fixing, but if I am required to migrate in the future, or start another project, I’d like to be able to use PHP with the same level of simplicity.
This anecdotal testimony gives some merit to the notion of a PHP-focused platform-as-a-service.
James' last question: "Is the 'open sourceness' of a programming stack even that important anymore?" is a good one, but orthogonal to the discussion about a LAMP/PHP cloud, in my mind.