Summary:

VMware’s Cloud Foundry is already catching on among companies wanting to become PaaS providers, and now it might start finding a home in private data centers too. ActiveState has created a commercial Cloud Foundry distribution called Stackato that’s meant to give customers their own private PaaS.

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VMware’s open source Platform-as-a-Service project Cloud Foundry is already catching on among companies wanting an easy on-ramp to becoming a PaaS provider, and now it might start finding a home in private data centers too. Enterprise software vendor ActiveState has created a commercial Cloud Foundry distribution called Stackato that’s meant to give customers their own private PaaS.

Stackato has actually been in development for a while now, but on Tuesday it became available for public beta. Developers can try it for free in a sandbox environment within Amazon EC2 or as a Micro Cloud instance that runs within a virtual machine on their personal computer.

The product is built upon Cloud Foundry, which means it can support a variety of programming languages, frameworks and application components off the bat, but ActiveState has expanded upon that foundation significantly. Historically a dynamic-language development house for enterprise applications, ActiveState’s first order of business was to add support for Python and Perl, as well as a number of other languages and frameworks, said Diane Mueller, the company’s director of enterprise product management.

Additionally, Mueller explained, Stackato features an ActiveState-built user interface and dashboard, something the core Cloud Foundry code lacks, and security protocols designed to attract enterprise adoption. VMware actually hosts its own Cloud Foundry service that is more refined, but the open source project is just the platform code at this point without higher-level features.

Angie Hirata, ActiveState’s director of sales and marketing, told me the company is seeing a lot of interest from financial services companies that want to deploy PaaS on their internal cloud computing deployments, as well as from Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers that want to add an application platform to their infrastructure-level services.

Once Stackato reaches general availability, though, the free ride will be over. Hirata said that although the company hasn’t announced its licensing model, Stackato certainly will be a paid product and many of its big developments on top of Cloud Foundry will remain proprietary.

However, ActiveState has a strong history in open source and will remain active in the Cloud Foundry community, Mueller added. Actually, it’s already the Python community leader for Cloud Foundry after contributing its code for letting Python (and Django) run on the platform. Being a community leader means driving development of Python support in Cloud Foundry going forward, as well. Other community leaders include AppFog for PHP and Joyent for Node.js.

If Cloud Foundry takes off as I suspect it will, though, ActiveState won’t be alone in selling PaaS software based on the platform for long. Private PaaS is an up-and-coming model already being pushed by CumuLogic, CloudBees and Red Hat for Java applications, and Cloud Foundry makes it relatively easy for newcomers to get in the game by adding to what VMware has already built, as ActiveState has done. Cloud Foundry could see a similar adoption pattern in the public cloud space, as well, where AppFog rearchitected atop it and now supports numerous languages where it previously supported only PHP.

The video below demonstrates the process of deploying code to a Stackato environment.

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