Cloud Foundry adds PHP, Python; AppFog now a user

VMware (s vmw) has added support for the PHP, Python and Django programming languages to Cloud Foundry, the open-source Platform-as-a-Service the company unveiled in April. Such news isn’t necessarily groundbreaking considering the project’s focus on multi-language support, but how it added PHP, at least, is very noteworthy.

AppFog (formerly PHP Fog) is now based on the open source Cloud Foundry code and is contributing its code back to the project. That means AppFog can support all the languages, frameworks, databases and services that Cloud Foundry can, and VMware gets AppFog’s PHP expertise.

Carlson and team working with VMware cloud boss Derek Collison (sitting).

According to AppFog founder and CEO Lucas Carlson, his startup PaaS company and VMware have been working together for a while to transition the service to a Cloud Foundry foundation. Actually, Cloud Foundry’s support for multiple languages and frameworks is what enabled the language-specific PHP Fog to become AppFog in the first place. Its PHP service running on the new platform will be available Thursday, and services for new languages will follow shortly, Carlson told me.

What makes this so interesting is that in just four months since launching, Cloud Foundry already has the start of an ecosystem of providers running productions services atop it. Carlson said AppFog made the switch because it’s a small company and can only focus on so many things at a time. With multi-language support becoming PaaS table stakes, Carlson and his team wanted to put their efforts on improving the AppFog user experience, which he sees as a greater point of differentiation.

A whole ecosystem of Cloud Foundry-based PaaS offerings would put pressure on legacy PaaS providers such as Heroku (s crm), Google (s goog), Microsoft (s msft) and Engine Yard that have had the market to themselves save for a handful of startups, but only if Cloud Foundry-based upstarts were able to add meaningful features atop the Cloud Foundry architecture as AppFog is attempting to do.

As open source code, it can run on any cloud infrastructure that someone might feel like deploying it on. If you have access to cloud infrastructure and the skills to turn the open source code into a sellable service, you can launch a multi-language PaaS offering using Cloud Foundry at the core. AppFog, for example, runs its service on Amazon Web Services (s amzn), although Carlson noted it will be adding an option to deploy upon OpenStack as well.

Because of its extensive experience with both PHP and Cloud Foundry, AppFog is now the project’s community lead for PHP, part of a new Cloud Foundry initiative to bring in code and expertise in different areas. ActiveState, which built a Cloud Foundry-based PaaS called Stackato to serve its enterprise customers, is heading up the Python community. Stackato supports Python as well as Django and ActiveState is contributing the code related to its experience building Stackato to the Cloud Foundry project.

VMware has been quite active with Cloud Foundry lately, recently announcing a handful of partners to help customers deploy and configure the software on their infrastructure. Yesterday, it released Micro Cloud Foundry, a fully functional version of the platform that runs as a virtual image on developers’ personal computers. Who knows how the project will evolve next?

Perhaps features targeting mobile developers are on the horizon. VMware’s CTO is talking at our Mobilize conference next month about how the role of virtualization and VMware in the smartphone market, and yesterday’s StackMob-Heroku integration illustrates just how important mobile developers are becoming as more applications make their ways to handheld devices.

Photo by James Watters.