OpenStack converges around Cloud Foundry, future of Solum in question

The PaaS market, at least in the OpenStack world, may get a bit less confusing

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Following lots of confusion regarding platform as a service in the OpenStack world last year, it's clear that the community is converging around Cloud Foundry.

Yesterday, Pivotal announced that it would build an open governance model for Cloud Foundry. It might surprise people who have been following the OpenStack PaaS market to learn that Rackspace, HP and ActiveState are three companies sponsoring the effort.

Image credit: Flickr/ahockley

Those vendors have been behind a separate OpenStack PaaS project known as Project Solum. The effort has been a source of confusion for many people, starting with exactly what its goals are. Plus, some Solum backers are involved in multiple PaaS projects. For instance, Canonical is involved in both Solum and Cloud Foundry and Red Hat is involved in Solum but has its own PaaS project, OpenShift. Now, HP, ActiveState and Rackspace are also all involved with both Solum and Cloud Foundry.

It appears with this announcement that the momentum has shifted toward Cloud Foundry. From the beginning, Solum was a non-starter, said Joshua McKenty, CTO and co- founder of Piston. "It was built in a fit of pique," he said. "It was lacking a reason to exist other than Rackspace didn't want to play in anyone else's sandbox."

In fact, he goes one step further and suggests that Rackspace may not have been serious about Solum to begin with. "They hoped to use it as a bargaining chip to get to the Cloud Foundry table," he said.

Rackspace, however, seems to suggest that it thinks both efforts will continue and will meet different needs for customers. It offered the following statement from John Igoe, vice president of private cloud at Rackspace:

"Rackspace finds there are two types of platform service layers in demand amongst our customers depending on whether they are coming from a PaaS-centric vs IaaS-centric orientation to providing a platform service layer. PaaS-centric customers might value the cross-cloud portability of Cloud Foundry while IaaS-centric customers on OpenStack might value Solum’s ability to make full use of their existing infrastructure service layer."

On the Project Solum mailing list, it looks like business as usual. There doesn't appear to be any discussion about the Cloud Foundry announcement there, although there's plenty of discussion there about ongoing development.

McKenty also predicts that Red Hat will end up joining Cloud Foundry. Both Rackspace and Red Hat "have to be part of Cloud Foundry because it's where all the momentum is," he said.

Having most of the leaders in the OpenStack community backing one PaaS project is good news. There should be less confusion and more concentration of effort on one open solution.

Businesses are increasingly paying attention to PaaS. McKenty said that 50 percent of Piston prospects right now are piloting Cloud Foundry running on top of OpenStack.

He points to a few reasons that kicked off the renewed interest in PaaS last year, including Pivotal Cloud Foundry becoming generally available, IBM backing Cloud Foundry and the analyst community getting behind the concept of PaaS.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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