Open-source PaaS Cloud Foundry Foundation opens its doors

There have long been community infrastructure-as-a-service projects such as OpenStack, and now there's a community platform-as-a-service project: Cloud Foundry.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Cloud Foundry, an open-source platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud, isn't new. It's been around for several years. Here's what is new: the Cloud Foundry Foundation.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation is designed to move the program from being Pivotal's baby to being an independent project under a non-profit foundation. The Cloud Foundry Foundation is a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. It will operate under a system of open governance led by open source experts from founding Platinum Members EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Pivotal, SAP, and VMware.

Pivotal made this move, said its CEO Paul Maritz in a statement, because, "The cloud is too important to allow it to become proprietary and have customers locked in. It needs a healthy open ecosystem of users, developers and providers linked via a common, open platform, much as Linux provided for the server market. Not only is open source a key to this, but equally so is orderly, open governance and participation. The Cloud Foundry Foundation will ensure that Cloud Foundry is and remains an ecosystem where many players can contribute to the platform and benefit from it."

This shift to a corporate community open-source project has been in the works since the summer of 2013. It was only with the help of the Linux Foundation that Pivotal and its partners finally made the move.

While the Foundation is new, the project is mature. According to Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin, "Cloud Foundry is a leading PaaS open-source project with years of coding behind it. In the last year alone, it's seen a 36 percent increase in community contributions. It going live with huge resources that it needs to hit the ground running."

Indeed Cloud Foundry is already being used in a variety of commercial deployments including Pivotal Cloud Foundry, IBM Bluemix, HP Helion, and Canopy Cloud Fabric among others. As a community project, its founders believe that its acceptance and advancement will start speeding up even more.

What programmers will find most interesting is that The Cloud Foundry Foundation is implementing a new approach to open-source development called Dojo. With Dojo, developers will be trained on Cloud Foundry and given a "fast track" for commit rights. In most open-source projects, earning commit rights usually takes at least a year in a major project. Zemlin said this quick educational path to committer status is a first for a major open-source project.

To keep everyone on track, a certification program will also be introduced in the new year to ensure consistency and compatibility across Cloud Foundry-branded products and services.

That's a good thing, because Cloud Foundry has an aggressive feature plan. Recent technical features and community contributions to the project include:

  • Docker support for Diego, a rewrite of the Cloud Foundry runtime.
  • Ability to fuse devices in containers
  • Firehose: app logs and Cloud Foundry component metrics stream
  • Expanded build pack support for Go, PHP, Python and more
  • Internationalization and extensibility model for Cloud Foundry CLI
  • BOSH external Cloud Provider Interface (CPI)

All of this is coming together because PaaS clouds are beginning to take off. IDC forecasts for PaaS are increasingly aggressive with the latest data showing about 27 percent estimated annual growth in the market from 2013 through 2018.

In a statement, Charlotte Dunlap, senior Analyst at Current Analysis, added: "The industry has been in need of an OpenStack equivalent for the unique characteristics of PaaS, and Cloud Foundry Foundation has managed to rally broad participation among key application infrastructure players in short order. The formalization of Cloud Foundry as an industry standard will only help spur further PaaS adoption by providing additional reassurance to enterprises which are looking to speed app development and avoid vendor lock-in.''

Of course, there are already many powerful PaaS companies. Salesforce, for example, has expanded from its software-as-a-service stronghold to PaaS with AppExchange and Heruk and Red Hat has its own open-source PaaS cloud, OpenShift. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are also pushing into PaaS from their respective IaaS cloud offerings. Still, with a solid code base and a lot of top-tier technology company supporters, I wouldn't bet against the newly minted Cloud Foundry Foundation.

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  • Canopy launches Pivotal-based Cloud Foundry 'as a service'
  • Pivotal rolls out enterprise distro of Cloud Foundry
  • IBM, Pivotal team up on open governance model for Cloud Foundry
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