AppHarbor aims to become Heroku for .NET but faces stiff competition

Developers building websites with .NET technologies now have more options for making their applications available to the world. From the traditional rent-your-own-server to deployment on Windows Azure, there is now a new option: AppHarbor.

AppHarbor boldly claims on its homepage that it is “Azure done right”. It offers distributed hosting services for .NET web projects, from WebForms to ASP.NET MVC. But it offers many differences with Azure, the most obvious of these being that it supports Git version control for deployment, and offers MySQL as well as SQL Server for databases. This means once you’ve gone through the painless signup process and created an application in a couple of clicks, you just add AppHarbor as a remote repository in your Git configuration and push from there; it’s capable of running a testing project before release to make sure your app works, and also gives you one-click reverts if something goes wrong.

Prices for AppHarbor are also attractive, with a free offering for one hosted instance and a 20MB database, with prices at 5 US cents per hour for additional hosting instances spread across machines, and $10 per month for up to 10GB of database space. Best of all – bandwidth and custom domains are free addons.

AppHarbor is the first in a line of deployment systems such as this to be released for .NET. Others in the pipeline include Meerkatalyst by UK developer Ben Hall, and Moncai. They aim to provide a similar service to .NET as Heroku does to Ruby applications.

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