Apprenda, creators of the SaaSGrid application server, has launched a free “Express” version of their flagship product, targeted at providing .NET ISVs and VARs a foundation to develop cloud offerings. Here’s the scoop.

SaaSGrid Express provides most of the main benefits of the paid, licensable version without money needing to change hands: billing, metering, subscription management, application lifecycle management, customer provision, and access control, according to Apprenda’s press release.

It has the potential to remove a lot of headaches and time from the development cycle, since what Apprenda CEO Sinclair Schuller describes as the hard part of rolling cloud applications -- the architecture -- is already addressed.

In theory, this is freemium at its finest: the full version of SaaSGrid is fully brandable, has no functional limits and more features, and comes with better support to boot. Schuller says Apprenda is counting on monetizing developers who grow their applications past the three-server limit Express imposes by selling them the full version.

But the ability to develop applications for the cloud, or to deliver an existing offering as a service, with no overhead, is nothing to sneeze at. Schuller says that Apprenda's channel partners often resell SaaSGrid to clients and then make bank by writing the code that will run on it too; if SaaSGrid Express is free, the development services are that much of an easier sell.

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