VMware's Cloud Foundry Could Flourish Based On Virtualization, Open Tools

by Sam Dean - Apr. 14, 2011Comments (0)

Many new cloud computing platforms--including OpenStack, which is backed by heavy-hitting tech titans--have been beating the war drums for the last couple of years, but VMware's Cloud Foundry, which is billed to allow deployment and scalability of cloud apps in seconds, may be the one to take most seriously. The recently launched effort differs from VMware's usual playbook in a number of ways, including its focus on open source, but also has the potential to leverage what VMware does especially well: virtualization. Here is why Cloud Foundry will be well worth watching.

GigaOM's Stacey Higginbotham explains VMware's Cloud Foundry goals:

 "The goal of Cloud Foundry is to hide complexity from developers and make it easy to deploy and run applications anywhere. This is the same marketing speak that folks toting the cloud have pitched for years, but VMware wants to make it even more simple. Instead of worrying about instances or how to support a database, you just write a few lines of code, and Cloud Foundry makes it all happen for you. From day one, the platform will support Java  thanks to VMware’s SpringSource buy back in 2009, Sinatra, Rails and node.js. However those wanting more frameworks and languages can build them, since the product is open-source."

This effort differs from other cloud computing efforts in a number of ways. While other open source cloud platforms are gaining traction, including Red Hat's DeltaCloud, Rackspace's platform, and OpenStack, VMware's open source acquisitions have armed it with many open source tools that could allow Cloud Foundry, which is released under an Apache license, to become an extremely flexible path to delivery of cloud applications. But it's VMware's proprietary and open virtualization tools that could really boost this effort, and the company has been forced to embrace open source.

In the past, when meeting with the folks from VMware, and asking them about how virtualization is becoming commoditized and available widely (it's freely available in many operating systems now), they have steadfastly made the point that virtualization is actually a very tough computing problem. Indeed, efforts to get it to take off date back many years, but it has only recently gained traction as problems with performance, reliability and security have been ironed out. 

Platforms such as Microsoft's Azure and Google Apps are based on in-house, largely proprietary technologies that differ from the open tools that will drive Cloud Foundry, which could pave the way for a really open platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution that doesn't have to function within one vendor's data center. Moreover, those who deploy applications via Cloud Foundry can use VMware's leading virtualization tools in conjunction with other components to deliver high-performance, scalable apps. 

In the cloud, businesses and organizations want to deliver applications on flexible platforms that allow the apps to be public in some cases, and private in others. They want to be able to customize apps, and they want heterogenous app environments, which is where VMware's virtualization tools can be an outstanding complement to the rest of the Cloud Foundry software stack.

Microsoft, Google, Rackspace and Red Hat are all weighing the effect of open source on cloud computing platforms, and smaller players such as PHP Fog are too. As Lucas Carlson, founder of PHP Fog, recently told us:

  "Anyone who has ever tried to setup cloud infrastructure knows that there is still a huge gap between the promise and implementation...PHP Fog is a PHP PaaS cloud offering. Our flagship backend is AWS, but we take advantage of various IaaS backends in order to provide the best experience for our users. We have built an N-tier system where every single application our system can automatically scale separately on each tier. Separate systems for application servers, cache servers, database servers."

Through virtualization, and through the open source tools that VMware has acquired, Cloud Foundry-based applications can scale separately on their own flexible tiers as well. Cloud Foundry looks like a platform that small and large cloud players should watch closely. 

Shailesh Patel uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


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