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OpenSolaris to Support Facebook, OpenSocial

Sun Microsystems and Joyent have partnered to provide developers a platform for building and deploying social applications for Facebook and OpenSocial environments, along with offering assistance in the development process.

The program will provide developers with up to 12 months free Web hosting on Joyent's Cloud, which in turn is built on Sun servers running OpenSolaris. It will offer developers pre-provisioned libraries for Facebook and OpenSocial applications, so all the developer needs to do is create an account, log in, and start writing code. Sun will also provide tools to explain the use of all libraries and APIs .

Joyent provides on-demand applications, compute, storage, and services to customers, competing with sites like Amazon S3, GoDaddy and other hosting providers. Facebook and OpenSocial applications can be hosted on the site for next to nothing and scale up to meet demand.

Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) entered the space because it felt there was a need for a reliable, secure place for social networking application developers to host their wares. Developing Facebook apps may be a lot easier since it exposed its APIs but that doesn't mean developers are thriving.

"There is an extremely large population of developers creating apps for these Web sites," Rajesh Ramchandani, senior market development manager for startups and emerging markets at Sun, told InternetNews.com. "Because the monetizing of these apps is easier doesn't mean they are making money. What we want to do is offer a way to provide access to Sun tools and expertise to developers so they can deploy applications."

Apps are hosted for free on Joyant until they start to take off, then the developer will have to pay a fee commensurate with the level of use of the application. This gives developers a very low barrier to entry, since you can't get much lower than free.

Joyant also offers considerable scaling, so developers won't have to jump to bigger hosts if their application becomes popular. "If you are writing a Facebook app, you don't know how successful the app will be," said Ramchandani. "From the beginning, you have to architect and design your app in such a way so that if you get millions of users, you can quickly scale out the infrastructure."

Mark Otero, founder and CEO of Klicknation.com, is a Joyant customer and praised its scalability over RackSpace, GoDaddy and Amazon EC2 services. "All other hosting providers didn't meet the need of scaling quickly. Amazon met it but the latency between Amazon and Facebook servers was a showstopper," he told InternetNews.com.

"What lead us to try Joyant was their low barrier to entry, which was free. They provided free accelerators to Facebook developers. That made it low risk to try them out," he added.

Running its 30 apps for a variety of social networking sites on Sun's Solaris has been "the secret sauce to our success, and until more of our competitors know that, it will remain our advantage. It can go from handling a few thousand customers to a million. So this kind of architecture is good for companies that can grow into multi-million dollar operations. I can see us using this until we get quite a big bigger," said Otero.

Sun and Joyent are on an eight-city Social App Tour, where they will offer application development tutorials in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago, Boston, New York and Austin/Dallas between September and December.