Startup readies AJAX development tool

Product from Bungee Labs helps deploy applications that require on e-commerce, CRM and search functionality

Start-up Bungee Labs is launching a beta program to allow Web developers to create and deploy hosted Internet applications and Web tools using Asynchronous JavaScript XML technologies.

Developers who use the product Bungee Connect will be able to create Web applications that use services from Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, RealNetworks, Salesforce.com and Yahoo, Bungee Labs officials say. For example, a developer could build an application that integrates contacts and calendar functionality from Microsoft Exchange, CRM from Salesforce.com and Google Maps.

The beta program, which will begin next month, was announced this week at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. Bungee Labs officials say one of the product's main selling points is that Web developers can deploy applications on Bungee's high-availability infrastructure grid, so all they need is a Web browser.

"It's very good for small businesses that don't have a large support staff," says Brad Hintze, product marketing manager.

Bungee's new product is similar to one made by Coghead , though Coghead is focused on internal business applications rather than e-commerce, says Tony Baer, an analyst at Datamonitor. Bungee is unique in that it combines both development and deployment in the software-as-a-service model, but it's too early to say whether the company will be successful, he says.

"The concept is likely to succeed. Whether it's these two companies [Coghead and Bungee] that become the standard-bearers for it is certainly open to question," Baer says. "The combination of on-demand and Web 2.0 is making application development accessible to a much wider audience than it was before. This is not an isolated development."

Bungee Labs provides a shared library of application components that developers can add to their Web services. A Web service built using Bungee Connect can have multiple applications that interact with each other in several ways. For example, contact lists in Exchange and Salesforce.com could be merged, and if a user reads a CRM -related e-mail in Exchange, the contact history in Salesforce.com can be automatically updated to reflect the fact that the e-mail has been read.

There is no security risk involving cross-site scripting vulnerabilities because every service call originates from the Bungee server, Hintze says. Instead of a user's computer making Web service calls to Salesforce and Exchange, the Bungee server makes the calls to the servers of both programs, he says.

Bungee also says its service for building Web applications speeds up the development process.

"Bungee Connect is a highly automated environment that speeds up the process of creating rich Internet applications and extends the technological capability of rich Internet applications," says Lyle Ball, vice president of marketing.

Bungee expects to make the service generally available in October or November. There will be no fee for developing and testing applications. When an application is deployed commercially, Bungee will charge US$1 per computer-network-interaction hour. With one mouse click, Ball says, "you might be clocking milliseconds of time. If you add up thousands or tens of thousands of clicks then you'll get to a dollar."

According to Ball, if you deploy a mashup involving five or so applications, and users access the mashup for three or four hours each day, the Web application developer would pay somewhere between US$3 and US$5 per month per user.

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