A Vancouver software company has issued the latest version of its cloud platform for agile application development with special pricing.

ActiveState Software released version 3.4 of Stackato, with new capabilities including application rollback and versioning.

The kicker is a free micro-cloud licence enabling access to Stackato clusters that use up to 20 GB of RAM.  Previously the free tier was limited to a single node using up to 4 GB of memory. The idea of the offer, says the company, is to open up accessibility for IT operations to leverage scalability, high availability and load balancing of applications in production for free.

“We want to make it easy for people to get started and see what it’s like in production,” Bernard Golden, the company’s vice-president strategy, said in an interview.

Stackato is a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) suite built on the open source Cloud Foundry platform. It also uses the open source Docker platform for building applications. ActiveState, which has years of experience honing open languages like Perl to sell suites for enterprises like ActivePerl,  and ActivePython, has done the same with Stackato by adding to and strengthening components of Cloud Foundry to create its own distribution.

“It provides capabilities to IT operations and application developers,” Golden said.

“One of the challenges of cloud computing is there are lots of capabilities but it’s a lot of manual work – they give you (the developer) a virtual machine and you’ve got to fill it up with the right components, you’ve got to manage your code et cetera. From IT operations perspective, you may not be sure what’s in those deployments because it’s all being done by hands -– are they using the right versions, have they been patched and so forth. Stackato uses what we call a build pack with as pre-configured set of components, so you know exactly what is going to be in there.

“From a developer’s perspective, it’s very efficient: you just have to worry about your application code. You don’t have to worry about installing databases and managing them. You say ‘I want this environment, here’s my code’ and the stuff’s up and running.”

As the developer steps through the phases of software creation –development, testing, staging – Stackato takes the components through each, the process is faster and less subject to errors, Golden said.