Developers concerned about confining their apps to a single Infrastructure-as-a-Service platform, such as Amazon Web Services, need worry no more. If they’re willing to utilize Cloud Foundry, the open-source Platform-as-a-Service project launched by VMware in April 2011, developers can now run apps that move seamlessly between any infrastructure already running a Cloud Foundry-based service.
As it stands right now, most PaaS offerings sit atop a public cloud — mostly AWS — and are tuned to utilize that cloud’s API and various features. Developers write apps to the PaaS they want to use, which means they’re inherently locked into the underlying IaaS cloud, as well. With Cloud Foundry’s new Multi-Cloud capability, however, developers can write apps that can actually span IaaS clouds that are offering up Cloud Foundry instances.
That might not sound like much, but less than a year into its existence, Cloud Foundry already underpins numerous efforts. On the public side, there’s VMware’s eponymously named Cloud Foundry service, as well as AppFog and Iron Foundry. Within the private cloud space, ActiveState is offering its Stackato product. Because it’s just open source code that needs infrastructure to run on, however, Cloud Foundry can theoretically run anywhere — on AWS, OpenStack clouds, Eucalyptus clouds, or even your own laptop.
The Cloud Foundry team explains how this is accomplished in the blog post announcing the new capability. Essentially, it’s a matter of providing applications with an infrastructure-agnostic execution method, standardizing the method of exposing services such as databases, and standardizing service credentials across runtimes. The result is that applications don’t have to worry about infrastructure-specific requirements, because the intermediary Cloud Foundry platform takes care of them.
As Cloud Foundry continues to expand its ecosystem, of course, this capability will become even more appealing. CEOs of other PaaS providers have told me in the past they were looking at ways to expand their platforms beyond AWS — something CloudBees has done by making its code downloadable — so maybe now is the time to get busy on making that happen.