Stackato: A platform for Python and Perl in the Cloud
by Troy Topnik

Troy Topnik, May 5, 2011

ActiveState is entering the cloud market.

Today we're announcing Stackato, a platform for Python and Perl applications on public and private clouds.

The problem

In the world of IT buzzwords few terms are quite as cloudy as "cloud", but its origins are pretty well agreed upon: it's that fluffy part of your whiteboard diagram that you don't have to worry about. This is a great idea if you're comfortable with making your application infrastructure somebody else's responsibility.

We've been talking to our customers over the past months, and it turns out that many of them do not have this luxury.

These companies and institutions have to to be responsible for the reliability and scalability of their critical applications themselves. Their corporate policies (and understandable caution) prevent them from trusting their application infrastructure to a third party.

Enterprises are increasingly turning to private clouds to fill the gap (providing the hardware, virtualization, and OS layers) but there's still an additional software stack that has to be built for each application. Their development teams are currently unable to take advantage of the tremendous agility available in the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) world: pre-configured application frameworks and useful command-line deployment tools.

We are providing developers with the same ease of use and allow companies to provide their own PaaS for their developers.


Stackato is built on Cloud Foundry, a VMware sponsored open source project that fills the gap between the virtualized system and the application. Its launch provided numerous demonstrations of just how fast and easy deployment to a cloud - any cloud - can be. It currently supports Ruby, Node.js and Java. We're extending it to support Python and Perl, with additional languages to follow.

One of the key innovations here is portability. You are not bound to one service provider or one infrastructure. You can deploy applications anywhere: to a VM on your workstation, to your vSphere cluster, or to an infrastructure provider like EC2 or Rackspace.

Stackato takes advantage of our industry-proven ActivePython and ActivePerl distributions and their built-in binary package managers: PyPM and PPM. This gives you a range of language releases to choose from, and quick access to thousands of modules from PyPI and CPAN including the latest frameworks for building web applications (Django, Pylons, Mojolicious, Catalyst and more). We're also adding Stackato integration to Komodo so you can create, debug, test and deploy applications right in the IDE.

Developer Preview

We need to know that we're building what people want early on, so we're opening signup for the developer preview of Stackato. We're looking for developers and IT administrators who are interested in running Python and Perl applications in the cloud to take an early look at what we're building and give us some feedback. Sign up for the developer preview, tell us a bit about what you're looking for, and see if Stackato is what you need.

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Category: announcements, stackato
About the Author: RSS

As ActiveState's Technical Product Manager for Stackato, Troy Topnik is responsible for defining and prioritizing the product roadmap to build the best cloud platform for deploying applications. Since joining ActiveState in 2001, he has held roles in Technical Support, Training, and Technical Writing. He believes in documentation-driven development as a pragmatic path to a better user experience.


8 comments for Stackato: A platform for Python and Perl in the Cloud

Updates of non-dev-release modules into your PPM repository as they get updated on CPAN is something you're missing that I'd consider critical. Not being able to use the latest versions of modules, especially when there are important bug or security fixes is a real no-no. For much the same reason, I don't do distribution packages of perl modules and favour having a separate perl that I stick all of my modules into.


Yes, this is a point in favor of ActivePerl and ActivePython generally, but it very much applies to Stackato.

I wrote previously about having interpreter and module versions that are not tied to the OS release. Some distributions are better than others at keeping current.


How is it a point in favour of ActivePerl? The PPM repositories are not automatically tracking CPAN.


Not true. The automated build system for PPM tracks new releases in CPAN. A cursory look at the PPM index shows this. Sometimes new versions of module will not build automatically, in which case the older version remains available.

Sometimes a new module, or a new version, will not build on a particular platform. In that case there will be build logs on PPM index which show the cause. Usually this matches what you see for a given module in the CPAN Testers Matrix.


"Python and Perl" ?
Why not alphabetical order?
Say "Perl and Python"


I am not an ActiveState Insider, but I can say:

- Because Python is very superior to Perl in many ways

- Because they have built some tools that use Python massively, lieke Komodo instead of Python

- Because Python nowadays is considered one of the "Languages du jour"

- Because Python as support from strong enterprises like Google


As an ActiveState Insider, let me just interject that we don't see things this way at all. This is not a language war, so please don't read anything into which order we list them.

We have built lots of software with Perl, Tcl, JavaScript, PHP and C as well as Python. Each language has its strengths and we try to use them wherever they are most effective. We're hoping Stackato will give people the chance to do the same.


Really... your arguments is that ridiculous. I don't see a way that Python is superior to Perl. Python has support from Google? Perl has support from ActiveState. Java has support from Oracle. So what? C++ has support from nobody and is still a strong and powerfull language. Supperior to Python in many ways.

Languages du jour... came on... Find a solid arg and not this bla-bla-bla.