I've been waiting for a while now for VMware to bring a PaaS offering to market, but I was pleasantly surprised with the newly announced Cloud Foundry. In their own words, Cloud Foundry is "a VMware-led project [that] is the world’s first open Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering. Cloud Foundry provides a platform for building, deploying, and running cloud apps using Spring for Java developers, Rails and Sinatra for Ruby developers, Node.js and other JVM frameworks including Grails."
There are several awesome things about this new offering. The first is that it's open source. This is huge in many ways, but the most important thing to businesses looking at Cloud Foundry is that being open source does a lot to eliminate vendor lock-in. Secondly, the offering spans public, private and hybrid cloud computing. This is an offering that hits many key areas across the cloud spectrum. Lastly, there will be a 'micro cloud' version coming out that allows developers to test on their own desktops and laptops. This is HUGE because you are not forced to deploy a full blown private cloud (or push to a public cloud) for development and testing. Let's take a little time to discuss the three pieces of Cloud Foundry.
First is CloudFoundry.com, VMware's hosted commercial public cloud offering. From their own website: "The VMware hosted, managed and supported service, CloudFoundry.com provides a multitenant PaaS from VMware that runs on the industry leading vSphere cloud platform. Initially, CloudFoundry.com supports Spring for Java apps, Rails and Sinatra for Ruby apps, Node.js apps and apps for other JVM frameworks including Grails. Cloud Foundry also offers MySQL, Redis, and MongoDB data services." This is where most enterprises will deploy their apps when they want to go to the public cloud. It will be backed by VMware and offer support and services that wrap the offering. This is similar to Amazon's AWS PaaS offering - Elastic Beanstalk, Google's App Engine, Microsoft's Azure and Salesforce's Force.com.
Second is the open source project CloudFoundry.org. From their own website: "The open-source community site, CloudFoundry.org, is the community where developers can collaborate and contribute to the Cloud Foundry project. For a full catalog of software services available in the open source stack, please refer to the community website at CloudFoundry.org." This is the truly innovative piece of the Cloud Foundry line-up that no other big cloud vendor is offering. There is great potential synergy with other open source projects like OpenStack (which is backed by NASA and Rackspace among others) and Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC). This is where I expect to see a lot of interest and innovation in the short and long term.
Lastly, (and the best part in my opinion) is the Cloud Foundry Micro Cloud. From their own website: "Micro Cloud is a single developer instance of Cloud Foundry. It provides developers with a personal PaaS that runs on their desktop. Micro Cloud is provided as a downloadable software image for VMware Fusion or VMware Player, as well a hosted image on selected cloud partners." This is big in so many ways. Prior to the Micro Cloud concept, developers had to deploy a small private cloud (or spin up a paid instance from a public cloud provider like Amazon) in order to test their code. The Micro Cloud will now allow developers to deploy a developer instance on their own workstations (and/or laptops) for development and testing. Think of this as a cloud IDE. The Micro Cloud will save time and money in the development process.
There is much more information available on the Cloud Foundry FAQ at http://cloudfoundry.com/faq. As always, the VMware Guy is happy to come out to your location for professional services engagements centered around VMware and Cloud Computing. I am proud to announce that Cloud Foundry training and consulting services are now offered by the VMware Guy. I will be updating the site to reflect that in the next couple of days. Call now to schedule your services engagement.