Heroku started out running applications written in Ruby. It later expanded to support Node.js and Clojure, and is now adding Java.
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"Java is, by many measures, the world's most popular programming language," Adam Wiggins, one of Heroku's founders, wrote in a blog post. "Our desire is to be as inclusive as possible."
Many PaaS providers started out by supporting just one language and then expanded to include others.
Adding Java makes sense for Heroku, since Salesforce's Force.com platform is largely Java-based, said Bill Lapcevic, vice president of business development for New Relic, a company that offers application performance management tools for developers, including those that run apps on Heroku. Supporting Java puts Heroku in a better position to serve existing Salesforce customers, he said.
The move also puts Heroku in competition with Amazon, which earlier this year began offering its first Java platform-as-a-service offering, called Elastic Beanstalk. For now, Heroku should have an advantage, Lapcevic said. "My opinion is that Amazon is expert at running its infrastructure and less at helping you run applications and making them easy to deploy," he said.
Heroku said it will offer the service initially as a public beta.