Choosing sides in the cloud game

Canonical goes with Cloud Foundry; squaring off with Red Hat

Canonical has softly announced it would be offering the Cloud Foundry Platform as a Service (PaaS) tool in Ubuntu 11.10, a move that marks a noted preference away from a similar offering from Red Hat.

The announcement, which popped up on the Canonical Blog Wednesday, highlighted the benefits of Cloud Foundry, which enables development extension platforms across multiple cloud providers. Cloud Foundry enables developers to pick and choose the framework, cloud, and application services for their applications. The idea is to eliminate the barriers that make it hard to write for one cloud environment and then not be able to move to another.

"In Ubuntu 11.10 we've added client and server deployment tools using Ensemble that allow you to easily deploy a single node server in minutes as well as a distributed, multi node environment quickly and easily to create a production quality PaaS. You can deploy applications in AWS, Openstack or on your own internal servers," Gerry Carr wrote.

The code and tools for Open Foundry are at Developers can try out the service over at

What's interesting to me, really, is that Canonical chose to go with Cloud Foundry, an Apache-licensed fully open source project that was launched by VMware, rather than Red Hat's OpenShift PaaS offering. OpenShift, which uses technology from Makara, a company Red Hat bought late last year, is not fully open source yet, so that may have something to do with it.

Cloud Foundry, while open and community driven, is also a way to position VMware against Red Hat's cloud offerings. The competition between VMware and Red Hat has become a fierce rivalry in this tech sector. I initially had some skepticism about Cloud Foundry, but thus far, the project's commitment to open source seems solid.

I am not entirely sure the openness of Cloud Foundry was the biggest draw for Canonical. It may be a bit of coziness, too. Cloud Foundry is working with Dell to get Cloud Foundry installed on Dell machines using the Crowbar installation-and-configuration tool. Canonical and Dell have, to date, had a pretty good working relationship.

That VMware is the main commercial driver behind Cloud Foundry could be an inverse attraction. Not that Canonical has any love for VMware, but for the simple fact that it's not Red Hat. Canonical still wants to be a leader in cloud space (and server space and desktop space...) and tacking onto Red Hat's OpenShift, or any part of Red Hat's Cloud Formation umbrella of cloud services, could ultimately leave Canonical beholden to Red Hat.

Which is pretty much not going to happen, if Canonical can help it.

I think it's interesting that VMware, a third-party company that has had an up-and-down relationship with open source software in the past, is going to benefit from commercial Linux vendors who want to position themselves in the cloud away from Red Hat.

But this will be the way it goes, as Red Hat continues to stand alone by their choice and the choice of others.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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