April 12, 2011, 2:46 PM — VMware is launching into the space pioneered by NASA with an open-source cloud-computing platform designed to reduce the cost and complications of getting into the cloud, expanding VMware's own market in the process.
The product, Cloud Foundry, is designed as platform as a service (PaaS) software for either internal corporate networks or public clouds being run as a service.
Not coincidentally, the main features VMware touts for Cloud Foundry are those it criticizes in Microsoft's Azure PaaS offering: the need to use a specific set of application development tools and operating systems within the cloud.
"Non-standard development frameworks, a limited set of application services or a single, vendor-operated cloud service...inhibit application portability, locking developers intoa particular offering and restricting movement of applications across cloud providers or even into the enterprise's own data center," the announcement read.
Microsoft's Azure runs applications built with Microsoft tools – primarily its .NET framework, ASP.net, and Visual Studio, with SQL Server as the database – but has also added support for PHP and Java. It has also added more granular control of the virtual-machine instances underneath a particular application, giving the developer that much more control.
Cloud foundry also supports micro-instances, but allows apps to be written using Spring for Java, Ruby on Rails, Sinatra for Ruby and Node.js and other Java Virtual Machine-based frameworks.
Data services come from MongoDB, MySQL and Redis databases and, eventually, VMware vFabric services, the app-management framework within VMware's vCloud products.
Open-source PaaS is a departure for VMware, which has always pushed its hypervisor and management environment as the basis of both internal and external clouds.
Cloud Foundry is an adaptation of products from SpringSource, the Java development-framework maker it bought in August, 2009.
Along with SpringSource, it got a host of other open-source products and communities: Apache Tomcat, Apache HTTP Server, Hyperic, Groovy and Grails.
It also bought RabbitMQ, which makes message-oriented middleware designed to simplify integration of applications by letting them send requests as messages rather than more complex coding.
And it launched VMForce, a Java-based PaaS, which it operates along with Salesforce.com.
Cloud Foundry will be available directly as a PaaS product from VMware, free while the beta is going on, but at full fee later on at CloudFoundry.com. CloudFoundry.org is an open-source developer community in which VMware invites developers to participate, at no cost.
Cloud Foundry Micro Cloud is a desktop cloud, also free, based on VMware Fusion or VMware player desktop virtualization products, that allow developers to run the Cloud Foundry environment on their desktops, then migrate apps to the cloud later.
It will be available in a few weeks, according to VMware.