By Derrick Harris, GigaOM

The growing Java Platform-as-a-Service market will soon need to make room for CumuLogic, a pre-beta startup led by a team of Sun Microsystems veterans. The Sun connection is notable, of course, because Sun was the Java owner and development leader before it was acquired by Oracle early last year. Its cloud application-management platform will enter a public beta within the next few weeks, and when it does, CumuLogic will have a tall, but feasible, order to distinguish itself from a pack that now includes Amazon Web Services, Red Hat, Google and CloudBees, among others.

CumuLogic was co-founded by Sun Cloud and Startup Essentials vets Rajesh Ramchandani and Laura Ventura, and touts Java creator James Gosling and former Sun CIO Bill Vass as the leaders of its technical advisory board. According to Ramchandani, he and Ventura were inspired to create a Java PaaS after they left Oracle and started thinking about how Sun could might have expanded its cloud computing efforts into the PaaS space had Oracle not killed Sun’s cloud project upon its acquisition of the company. We’ll never know how close CumuLogic is to what Sun might have done, but the company does appear to have embraced Sun’s legacy of giving users plenty of choice and control.

CEO Sandip Gupta told me that CumuLogic is focused on legacy Java applications, of which companies have written countless numbers over the years. Instead of rewriting applications to fit new platforms and, essentially, giving up application components on which companies might have standardized over the years, CumuLogic wants to give them the flexibility to keep using those components, from application platforms to databases. Further, CumuLogic wants to give customers choice of where to host their PaaS environment by providing a software product that can be installed locally or atop an IaaS cloud. Makara, the cloud software recently acquired by Red Hat, offers the same functionality with regard to deployment, but the companies differ in terms of scope.

CumuLogic also is trying to set itself apart by retaining a degree of IT control over the environment. Gupta explained that CumuLogic gives IT administrators the ability to do things like determine application lifecycles, establish permissions and transition environments from dev-test to production — all while giving end users the self-service, automated experience they expect from a PaaS offering.