Cloud Foundry came out of VMware, which spun it off as a core technology for the VMware-EMC-owned Pivotal spinout. Cloud Foundry’s original raison d’etre — to be a universal platform to enable developers to write an application once and run it on any cloud infrastructure — remains unchanged. However, Pivotal is overlaying the basic platform itself with a Pivotal HD data layer courtesy of Green Plum and agile development out of Pivotal Labs, as well as support for buildpacks, which lets folks use a PaaS with a choice of application run-time container. For nonprogrammers, that means you can swap in applications (or application servers) as needed and they need not be associated with the underlying PaaS provider.
“That’s how you can swap in WebSphere Liberty or Tomcat as needed but still use a simple PaaS,” said a Cloud Foundry representative. WebSphere Liberty is an IBM application server, while Tomcat is a popular open-source application server.
By eliminating that sort of lock-in, Cloud Foundry proponents think enterprise adoption — long promised but not yet real — will finally take off. The fact that General Electric, as enterprise-y a company as any, invested $105 million in Pivotal is one sign that this whole PaaS-for-big-business thing will finally gain traction.
IBM’s backing has been critical for other open source undertakings — from the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) for Java to Linux, so IBM’s endorsement here carries weight. Having said that, IBM tends to put its money on lots of bets so it may be that Baidu’s decision to use Cloud Foundry is even more meaningful. Baidu is the largest web site in China and the fifth largest worldwide and claims to serve up a billion (with a “b”) page views per day, according to a slide deck it presented recently.
Other Cloud Foundry ecosystem partners — which signed up for Cloud Foundry Version 1 — are on deck for this next V.2 release as well. Look for companies like ActiveState and CenturyLink Appfog to join the party soon.