AppFog, the Platform-as-a-Service startup that began life a PHP Fog, now supports both Ruby and Node.js applications. The expanded support comes as no surprise just more than a month after AppFog unveiled its new moniker and just a few weeks after it announced its shift to running atop VMware’s open source Cloud Foundry platform software. AppFog’s expanded scope, though, speaks volumes about the potential for Cloud Foundry as a PaaS equivalent to what OpenStack is for Infrastructure as a Service.
If there’s one thing that cloud computing providers appear to get, it’s that there’s real value in creating an ecosystem around open source software. There’s value for all parties in this arrangement: the project leader (i.e., Rackspace for OpenStack, and VMware for Cloud Foundry) reaps the rewards of community development of their code, and companies wanting to utilize the code save themselves the hassle of having to build core functionalities from scratch. They just have to use their own specialties to add value atop the core code.
In the IaaS space, OpenStack has positioned itself as an alternative to proprietary offerings from Amazon Web Services and VMware. It already has numerous large-vendor contributors and providers committed to running clouds built upon the OpenStack platform, and several companies promising private-cloud software based on OpenStack.
Cloud Foundry is doing something similar in the PaaS space. Not only is VMware running its own Cloud Foundry service, but there’s also AppFog on the provider side and ActiveState in the private-PaaS software space. It has built a product called Stackato that’s based on Cloud Foundry but lets users launch PaaS clouds on their own infrastructure, complete with enterprise-class features and added support for Python, Perl and Django.
The multi-language Cloud Foundry supported Ruby, Java and Node.js off the bat, but recently added support for PHP thanks to AppFog’s contributions and Python and Django thanks to ActiveState’s contributions. As CloudFoundry continues to add new features, it has to look even better for upstart PaaS providers that think they have particular points of differentiation in higher-level functionalities such as billing, user interface or reliability.
That’s what AppFog is doing, leveraging Cloud Foundry to keep competitive against Heroku, DotCloud, Engine Yard and others with multi-language support while expending its energy adding value elsewhere.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Sebastian Heycke.