VMware Cloud Foundry Opens Up For PaaS Developers

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

VMware’s Cloud Foundry offers open platform-as-a-service spanning popular development environments

Capitalising on its 2009 acquisition of SpringSource, VMware has announced what it calls the industry’s first open platform as a service, known as Cloud Foundry.

Tod Nielsen, co-president of Cloud Application Platform at VMware, told eWEEK that Cloud Foundry represents a new generation of application platform, architected specifically for cloud computing environments and delivered as a service from enterprise data centres and public cloud service providers.

VMware  Comes To PaaS

Cloud Foundry streamlines the development, delivery and operation of cloud-based applications, significantly enhancing the ability of developers to deploy, run and scale their applications while embracing the widest range of public and private clouds, high productivity developer languages and frameworks, and application services.

“Cloud Foundry is VMware’s entry into PaaS,” Nielsen said. “It’s a delivery along our open development strategy and it offers you a choice of clouds, frameworks and application services.”

As part of the announcement, VMware is introducing a new VMware-operated developer cloud service, a new open source PaaS project and a new “Micro-Cloud” product.

VMware made the Cloud Foundry introduction on April 12 in Palo Alto, California, at a live developer event led by VMware CEO Paul Maritz.

Also present to support the announcement were: Rod Johnson, senior vice president of the SpringSource division of VMware; Mark Lucovsky, a CTO at VMware; and Derek Collison, CTO and chief architect of the Cloud Services Division at VMware; along with developer community leaders Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith, co-founders of Ajaxian; Ryan Dahl, creator of Node.JS;  Ian McFarland, vice president of technology at Pivotal Labs; Roger Bodamer, 10Gen’s steward of MongoDB; and Michael Crandell, CEO and co-founder of RightScale.

The shift to cloud computing is driving large-scale, lasting change to the way modern applications are built, deployed, operated and managed,” Nielsen said in a statement.  “Sustained innovation in developer frameworks and application services, the growing market of hybrid cloud environments and greater demands to drive mobile, social and SaaS elements into mainstream applications are all challenging enterprises and ISVs to continue to deliver greater value, efficiently and at cloud scale.

“The introduction of Cloud Foundry is a seminal moment for the market, intelligently bringing together this dynamic environment via an open platform built and oriented specifically for the demands of cloud computing,” he wrote.

PaaS offerings have emerged as the modern solution to the changing nature of applications, increasing developer efficiency, while intelligently linking development frameworks and application services in an automated deployment environment, VMware said. PaaS solutions promise to let developers focus exclusively on writing applications, rather than configuring and patching systems, maintaining middleware and physical machines and worrying about network topologies.

Today’s early PaaS offerings, however, restrict developers to a specific development framework, unique set of limited application services or an individual, vendor-operated cloud service, VMware said. These unique, incompatible platforms inhibit application portability, locking developers into a particular offering and restricting movement of applications across cloud providers or even into an enterprise’s own data centre.

Cloud Foundry extends VMware’s commitment to Open PaaS, delivering choice of the broadest set of development frameworks and languages, heterogeneous application services and cloud deployment environments, said Steve Herrod, VMware’s chief technology officer. Cloud Foundry also delivers the highest degree of portability, minimising lock-in by enabling developers to migrate applications between environments, across cloud providers and their own data centres without disruption or modification to the application.

Rod Johnson said Cloud Foundry delivers unique intelligence and automation required to bring together heterogeneous application services and applications built in multiple frameworks for seamless deployment across diverse cloud infrastructures.

Initially, Cloud Foundry supports the most popular, high productivity programming frameworks, including Spring for Java, Ruby on Rails, Sinatra for Ruby and Node.js. And the project’s open architecture will enable additional programming frameworks to be rapidly supported in the future. For critical application services, Cloud Foundry supports MongoDB, MySQL and Redis databases as well as VMware vFabric services spanning cloud messaging, elastic data management, load balancing and performance management.

Johnson pointed out that an obvious strength of Cloud Foundry will be its Java support via Spring, but it is not just for Java. In a blog post, Johnson said: “To date, there hasn’t been a strong, open PaaS destination for Java. The millions of Java developers have largely been left to fend for themselves in the cloud, with weaker options than have been available, to, say, Ruby developers. We’re changing that.”

Moreover, Johnson keeps to his mantra of openness, which he has held from the time he launched SpringSource, initially known as Interface21.
He said: “Openness is a key theme in VMware’s approach to PaaS. Cloud Foundry is open in three other important ways:

“Open to multiple framework and developer communities, as I’ve already mentioned Cloud Foundry supports Spring, Grails, Node.js and Ruby on Rails with work already underway for other frameworks.

“Open to multiple services, provided by VMware or other vendors or communities: Initially we will provide basic services such as a relational database, but the choice will broaden quickly. Other initial choices are MySQL, Redis and MongoDB, and RabbitMQ will soon follow.

“Open to a choice of underlying deployment destinations: Cloud Foundry will be available as a public cloud service at and as software you can run wherever you choose. We are embracing portability at the Cloud Foundry layer, as well as Spring Framework layer, and expect to see Cloud Foundry running on top of EC2 and other IaaS offerings.”

Cloud Foundry is not tied to any single cloud environment, nor does it require a VMware infrastructure to operate, the company said. Rather, Cloud Foundry supports deployment to any public and private cloud environment, including demonstrated support for public cloud services powered by VMware vSphere and Amazon Web Services. The open architecture enables portability across heterogeneous cloud environments and to enterprise data centres without disruption or modification to the application.

Cloud Foundry will be offered in multiple delivery models:

  • New VMware Operated Developer Service – Available today, is a full function public cloud PaaS service, operated by VMware, enabling developers to access Cloud Foundry and providing a test bed for new services and operational optimisation of the software. Via this multi-tenant PaaS environment, developers can deploy and cloud-scale their applications in seconds.
  • Open Source, Community PaaS Project – Available today, this open source project and community under Apache 2 licence enables developers to inspect, evaluate and modify Cloud Foundry software based on their own needs, while also minimising the risk of lock-in. This model provides the highest degree of extensibility, allowing the community to extend and integrate Cloud Foundry with any framework, application service or infrastructure cloud.
  • New Cloud Foundry Micro Cloud – Available Q2 2011, Cloud Foundry Micro Cloud is a complete, downloadable instance of Cloud Foundry contained within a virtual machine on a developer’s desktop, enabling simplified development and testing of applications.  This unique model enables developers to build and test applications on their own machines and ensure that applications running locally will also run in production, without modification on any Cloud Foundry private or public cloud.
  • Cloud Foundry for the Enterprise and Service Providers – In the future, VMware will offer a commercial version of Cloud Foundry for enterprises who want to offer PaaS capabilities within their own private clouds and for service providers who want to offer Cloud Foundry via their public cloud services. This commercial solution will enable enterprises to integrate the PaaS environment with their application frameworks and services portfolio. Service provider solutions further deliver on the promise of portability across a hybrid cloud environment, enabling freedom to deploy internally or migrate to one of VMware’s nearly 3,500 vCloud partners.

“Delivering open technology in today’s era of cloud computing is more essential than ever,” Johnson said in a statement. “Just as an open model enabled Spring technology to evolve as a solution ideally suited for the needs of the Java community it served, so too will an open architecture and community process ensure that developers can access the full potential of PaaS environments while extending this solution to their specific needs.”