Cloud Foundry is turning into an open source platform that’s worth watching

If PaaS becomes big, Cloud Foundry will (likely) too

It's hard to tell when a new technology reaches a critical mass that it's really worth taking a look at and paying attention to. It still may be a little bit early for Cloud Foundry, but all the signs are pointing toward this open source application development platform being one that could impact the cloud computing industry.

Today Cloud Foundry announced some more big-name backers to its open source platform as a service (PaaS). Accenture, BNY Mellon, Capgemini, GE, Ericsson, Intel, NTT and Verizon jumped on board. They already have ActiveState, and CenturyLink, and the Platinum level members including EMC, HP, IBM, Pivotal, Rackspace, SAP and VMware as supporters. That's an impressive list of corporate partners.

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Everyone knows technology adoption is about more than just who a company can trot out as partners. At the end of the day it comes down to who will actually implement this technology. And for that aspect of Cloud Foundry, it is still early days.

For those not aware, Cloud Foundry is both a product and a platform. Created by a team at VMware, the project then was one of the original pillars of Pivotal, a spin-out from VMware and EMC.

Pivotal - headed by former VMware CEO Paul Maritz - now has its own distribution of Cloud Foundry, named Pivotal CF, and it's simultaneously building up a community around the open source project associated with Cloud Foundry.

At its core, Cloud Foundry is a platform as a service (PaaS) for building applications. It's most commonly run on top of an IaaS, which provisions virtual machines and storage, while the Cloud Foundry PaaS layer is where developers build applications that run on that infrastructure. In the future, when custom apps are built for companies, it will be done so in a PaaS, Cloud Foundry backers hope.

CF is not alone in the PaaS market. Red Hat has its own PaaS named OpenShift. There are private PaaS options, from Apprenda and CloudBees for example. But CF seems to be building up a cadre behind it. It already lists Verizon as a user. Piston Cloud Computing Co., the OpenStack IaaS company, is embracing Cloud Foundry as a PaaS to run on top of its IaaS. And now today CF has announced a while new band of companies, including system integrators working in the Cloud Foundry market.

It's too early to declare anyone a winner in the PaaS market, but similar to how OpenStack quickly built up a formidable community around its IaaS platform, CF appears to be hoping to do a similar approach on the PaaS market.

Photo: Cloud Foundry backers hope that in the future when applications are built, they will be constructed in a PaaS. Their PaaS specifically. Photo credit: Stockphoto 8809249

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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