Sorting through enterprise IT's PaaS options
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IBM has thrown its weight behind Cloud Foundry, giving clout to open source PaaS.
IBM disclosed plans on July 24 to collaborate with the Pivotal Initiative to develop Cloud Foundry, an open source Platform as a Service (PaaS) that allows enterprises to freely choose whatever cloud applications, cloud infrastructure and application programming interfaces (APIs) they want.
IBM's public signal is that PaaS is both real and necessary, and it is likely to have an impact on perceptions of PaaS within traditional enterprise buyers.
principal analyst and co-founder, RedMonk
Using an open platform gives IT shops a choice of a provider, as they aren't locked into one vendor.
"Openness leads to interoperability and portability," said Christopher Ferris, distinguished engineer and chief technology officer for cloud interoperability at IBM, based in Northbridge, Mass.
Why IBM partnered up with Pivotal's Cloud Foundry is just as important as why it engaged with OpenStack, Ferris said. It's all about the openness of a PaaS and more focus on the application, rather than middleware or a machine, which makes it easier for enterprises.
OpenStack has opened new avenues of cloud computing for IBM, and he hopes that Cloud Foundry does the same.
Although the collaboration is in the beginning stages, IBM's support gives PaaS a credible name behind it and validates open cloud platforms.
"IBM's public signal is that PaaS is both real and necessary, and it is likely to have an impact on perceptions of PaaS within traditional enterprise buyers," said Stephen O'Grady, principal analyst and co-founder of RedMonk, an industry analyst firm based in Portland, Maine.
The Cloud Foundry partnership is just a piece of IBM's strategy to become a prominent player in the cloud computing market. In June, IBM acquired SoftLayer, an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform, and since 2007 it has, among others, amassed Platform Computing, Cast Iron Systems, Green Hat, DemandTec and Kenexa.
Given this announcement, expect to see IBM invest in this project and help play an active role in its governance going forward, added Al Hilwa, program director for application development software at IDC Corp.
As big companies consider putting more workloads in the cloud, they'll want PaaS offerings along with IaaS capabilities, which IBM provides today, Hilwa said.
In the coming months, Pivotal will establish an advisory board of Cloud Foundry users and vendors, which will include IBM, so it can help the customers, Ferris said.
"Immediate needs are to focus on engaging in the community and keep developing and working with Pivotal," Ferris said. "In the future, we want to keep focusing on openness and working with partners. [We are] hoping to grow and scale the community and hope to imitate success like we had with Linux, [and] most recently OpenStack, the Apache Software Foundation and Eclipse."
IBM and Pivotal will give more information about their collaboration during the Platform, The Cloud Foundry Conference community event, which will be held Sept. 8 and 9 in Santa Clara, Calif.
Michael Anderson is an assistant news writer for the news department of the Data Center and Virtualization media group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.