The Web-based app development and hosting company Coghead announced Wednesday that it was shutting down (TechCrunch: Coghead grinds to a halt). Citing general economic pressures (the excuse du jour for layoffs and shutdowns), it told its customers they'd have until April 30 of this year to use their apps. They won't be charged for the service until then, but they won't get any support, either. So the rush is now on for Coghead's users to find a new home for their apps.
At least two companies are hoping to win converts to their competing service platforms: Caspio is offering two months free access to its Caspio Bridge, as well as free support and training. The pitch to Coghead customers: "Caspio offers a more scalable, robust and dependable platform-as-a-service than your previous solution, and our unique unlimited-user pricing is the most business-friendly option anywhere." See Caspio's offer page.
Intuit is offering six months of free service on its QuickBase hosted app platform, as well as two hours of personal consulting, unlimited standard support, and classes specifically for Coghead customers. See Intuit's offer page.
Update: Via the comments to this story, we learn that there are other offers for Coghead customers from TeamDesk, TrackVia, Zoho, and Qrimp (see Data-Driven Web Apps blog for links), and from Iceberg.
After being left high and dry by one cloud-based platform, I can't imagine any Coghead customers making a quick move to another. Even the true believers need more than righteousness to go on. They need to know their hosting companies will survive. A realistic alternative: Do your development on your own servers and host your apps inside your firewall. (For more, see.)
Minus its users, Coghead's technology is moving over to SAP. According to a memo sent to Coghead customers today, "SAP did not assume any of Coghead's customer relationships or obligations," thus paving the way for Caspio and Intuit to open their Coghead refugee camps.
Paul McNamara, Coghead's CEO, told me in an e-mail that "It was a wrenching decision because of the customer impact." And while he is obviously a booster for the platform-in-the-sky model ("It's clear that the benefits of Web-based applications are significant," he says), he also realizes that this situation is not good. He thinks there could eventually be a way to mitigate it: "I'd like to see the development of standards for declarative applications that are represented as XML documents. I think this is the logical evolution for cloud computing. As the industry evolves, we need to address portability and interoperability."
McNamara will not be making the move to SAP.