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Lots of Buzz Around VMware's Open PaaS

VMware has launched an open Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) product, which my colleague Michael Domingo reported on last week. The Palo Alto, CA-based virtualization vendor is billing its new Cloud Foundry as the industry's first open PaaS offering, a "new generation of application platform, architected specifically for cloud computing environments." Cloud Foundry is available as a cloud service operated by VMware, but also as a downloadable VM called "Micro Cloud." It's still in beta, but the source code for the project is available now on http://cloudfoundry.org/.

I heard from several people about this beta release. IDC analyst Al Hilwa, who was in Las Vegas covering the MIX11 event when the news broke, was the first to fire off an e-mail.

"Here is an infrastructure player that understands the value of application platforms and has moved to systematically assemble a cloud stack through smart acquisitions," Hilwa said. "While we have heard similar announcements from VMware a couple of times before, this one looks like the real thing."

It's "the real thing," Hilwa believes, because VMware is finally ready to put the platform into the hands of developers to play with, and plans to release the entire stack in open source "for anyone to leverage."

"While VMware's offering will be competing with Microsoft Azure, it will more directly compete for Java workloads with RedHat," he added. "VMware has set itself the ambitious goal of providing a choice of frameworks so that apps can be ported from different worlds [e.g. Java with Spring, Ruby on Rails, etc.]. This is an ambitious approach, and we should watch VMware to see if it's able to add more and more frameworks quickly enough, or generate the open source traction, to bring others into the fold."

Cloud Foundry is an important strategic move that positions VMware as "another emerging pole for Java developers," Hilwa says.

"We are living in disruptive times," Hilwa said. "And it's at exactly at times like these that players move into adjacent businesses and try to change the game. VMware clearly hopes to do that for PaaS platforms."

I also got a heads up from the indefatigable Liz Clinkenberg Christina Dalit about blog postings from the SpringSource crew on the news. It's been about 20 months since VMware acquired the chief commercial sponsor of the open source Spring Framework project. And it's still a surprisingly vocal group.

Rod Johnson, SVP and GM of VMware's SpringSource product division (and founder of SpringSource), posted what started out as a slightly canned-sounding statement about the news, but went on to offer a nice diagram of the Cloud Foundry model. He also observed: "To date, there hasn't been a strong, open PaaS destination for Java. The millions of Java developers have largely been left to fend for themselves in the cloud, with weaker options than have been available, to, say, Ruby developers. We're changing that."

He also encouraged developers to sign up for a beta account here, to download the source code and get involved in the project.

SpringSource team member Peter Ledbrook does a good job of explaining how Grails and Cloud Foundry work together on his blog "One Step Deployment with Grails and Cloud Foundry." Team member James Tyrrell talks about the integration of Cloud Foundry and Spring Roo on his blog "Roo + Cloud Foundry = Productivity in the Cloud." Great posts.

Cisco Cloud Evangelist Brian Gracely makes a stab at providing "101 Thoughts about the 'Cloud Foundry' Announcement" on his JavaLobby blog. I didn't count them, but I think he gets pretty close.

VMware has published a useful FAQ page, and you'll find video on YouTube on the CloudFoundry Channel. I liked the video by Jerry Chen, senior director of VMware's Application Platforms group, but there are others, and I'd expect more to come for a while, so you might want to subscribe.

Posted by John K. Waters on April 18, 2011