Heroku and Engine Yard, the platform-as-a-service cloud vendors, have been branching out to accommodate more developers by backing more programming languages.

Heroku, the cloud application deployment platform owned by Salesforce.com since early this year, added Python support last week and Java support at the end of August. And Engine Yard is now accommodating JRuby, a version of the Ruby language for the Java Virtual Machine.

Beta stage

Both Python and Java are in a beta stage on Heroku, although developers can use them now.  In addition to these languages, Heroku supports development via Ruby, Node.js, and Clojure. Developers also can use PHP when developing applications for Facebook. Applications deployed on Heroku include consumer-facing web applications as well as some enterprise business applications for the web.

"We basically believe that moving forward, all software is Web software," said James Lindenbaum, Heroku co-founder. Heroku was acquired by Salesforce.com in January for $250 million.

Engine Yard, in adding JRuby support, bills itself as the first platform to make available all stable, production-ready implementations of Ruby. JRuby project leaders Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo both work at Engine Yard, after having previously worked for Java founder Sun Microsystems.

Shift to JRuby

Engine Yard, which has been running primarily Ruby on Rails web applications, wants its customers to shift over to the JRuby variant of the language.

"JRuby is the only Ruby that is fully concurrent, which we believe is a bare minimum for running cloud applications," said Nic Williams, Engine Yard vice president of technology. Ruby is very resource-intensive and memory-hungry, he said. "With JRuby, it's much more efficient, much more performant, uses far less memory."

Engine Yard also supports development via PHP.