Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Happened to LAMP?

As many of you know, I am a huge proponent of scripting languages and the LAMP open source stack. Four years ago, I founded ActiveGrid to bring these technologies into the enterprise. People regularly ask me, "what happpened to LAMP?" since at this pint it is clear the LAMP stack has not had much penetration into the enterprise. I thought it would be worthwhile to analyze why this has occurred.

#1 - Java is now easy

Over the past few years, it has become incredibly easy to build Java web applications, especially database applications. NetBeans is a great example of a Java RAD environment that walks developers through writing a standards-based database web application. For coders, the prevalence of simple frameworks like Struts2 for UI and POJOs (plain old Java objects) with Hibernate / Java Persistence Framework for persistence have made it very straightforward to code a database application, especially when compared to Java EE. Sun's recent endorsement of scripting languages within the JVM (JRuby, JavaFX) is also lowering the bar for Java web application development.

#2 - New infrastructure software has hidden costs

Even if it was quicker and cheaper to build a LAMP application than a Java application, the cost of getting a new software platform approved is pretty astronomical at a lot of enterprises. Adding staging servers, management software, security auditing, training staff in new technologies, etc. is very expensive. Linux and Apache have been enormously successful in the enterprise since they were brought in as a horizontal solution. Bringing in Linux to replace Solaris and running Apache for all static content significantly reduces costs. But running PHP or Python for some applications when an enterprise is already supporting Java and perhaps .Net is not viable for most enterprises, as the cost each added platform multiplies support costs. MySQL has been a bit of an exception to this since it is substantially easier to use and administer than its competition, but it really is a tough slog when enterprises already have enterprise-wide license agreements to Oracle and DB2.

LAMP is still a huge success outside of the enterprise market, it is the stack of preference for Web 2.0 companies, SaaS companies, hosting providers, and legions of ISV's.

At ActiveGrid, we made the transition to Java deployment last year, and as previously announced last year, there will be a tooling update this year. While it can be an inefficient use of time and capital to transition a startup from one trend to another (since it is cheaper and easier to simply shut down a startup and start a new company from scratch), I am glad the company has successfully transitioned and is pressing forward in its mission to simplify application development.


Richard Cook said...


So here's the deal. Lately I've been reading about how some huge sites (Facebook, Digg, Yahoo) achieve their scalability and uptime with LAMP, usually PHP, memcached, and other technologies. I think they're on to something, I get a book on it and start to get into it, thinking this is something to add to my set of tools. I remember someone making some "controversial" statements about how PHP is going to take over from J2EE, etc. and this new company called ActiveGrid. I do some searching, reread the articles, and come to find that ActiveGrid is...retooling for Java.

I know three years can be a long time, but the PHP stack hasn't been stagnant either - no Facebook or Digg back then. So, were you guys wrong? Or right in 2004 but wrong in 2007? Or right, but right doesn't necessarily pay the bills if the big customers don't buy into it?

I'm guessing the third one. Java being easier and extra tooling costs in the enterprise don't change any of the advantages of PHP. Plus, with AJAX, mashups etc. getting more popular the world is looking more and more like that donut, and J2EE is still that muffin.

Peter Yared said...

Richard - I agree that LAMP has definitely completely dominated infrastructure for Web 2.0 companies, and as predicted, it is the platform of choice for new companies that have no existing infrastructure. Unfortunately, it is not the platform of choice for new applications inside the enterprise! J2EE is definitely a fat muffin, but lightweight Java now lets you have a donut architecture. :)

Jose A. Núñez said...

The difficult thing here is migration. Is like marriage. You cannot quit that easily, especially if your wife gets more beautiful every day.

The good thing about LAMP, Open Source, Java, .Net etc... is competition.

Their producers are forced to improve because of competition.

Windows XP is a lot better than any previous version of windows, and an important reason is because Linux was ramping up.

Now Linux has to compete with Vista, and will become better than Vista which will force MS to come out with better stuff.

If there were no competition we would be stuck with WINME still.

So, LAMP is something really good for corporations to look at and keep some diversified portfolio there... it is free, and some new projects would fit. That encourages competition and forces Java and .Net to become better.

Alice Terre said...

Peter, I keep seeing Sun making all the right moves with Java, driving ZFS onto MacOSX and into the BSD world, pushing Glassfish and Solaris to be faster and freer then anything else - sounds like you might owe them an apology for all the badmouthing you did... because they seem to be on a bit of a run.

Anjan said...

hi peter,

it's time that you apologized to sun and the java community for the bad mouthing you did a few years ago.

There are a few readers(me included) who were "offended".


Peter Yared said...

Anjan - I badmouthed Sun for not open sourcing Java and for not supporting scripting languages. I felt that open source platforms and easy-to-use languages and after 10 years of work on Java at startups such as JRad and at Sun, that Java was going to die a slow lumbering death. Since then, Sun has open sourced Java and there has been a lot of support for scripting languages from both Sun (JavaFX) and the Java community (JRuby). If you look at this post from June of last year, I was excited about these developments and ActiveGrid started working with Jython to move our code to the Java platform. So am I sorry that I was a vocal proponent of open source platforms and scripting languages? Not at all. Am I happy that Sun changed its mind and open sourced Java and started endorsing scripting? Yes, and I think that community pressure from bloggers helped that decision along.

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