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VMware Cloud Foundry vs. vFabric: the picture grows clearer

VMware released Micro Cloud Foundry and shed light on how it ties up with vFabric. Think developer in a coffee shop vs. an enterprise development team.

Integration and differentiation between elements of VMware's cloud computing application development is taking shape. A timeline for full integration between vFabric services and Cloud Foundry Platform as a Service remains to be seen.

First, let's look at the integration. There were a couple open questions earlier this summer about how the various vFabric services, including RabbitMQ messaging and GemFire in-memory data management, fit with Cloud Foundry plans, and whether vFabric was supposed to be supplemental or competitive to them.

At least one of those questions was put to rest with the announcement of RabbitMQ integration into Cloud Foundry last week; VMware has now made the distributed messaging available as a service to which various applications can subscribe on the public Cloud Foundry platform. It now appears VMware means to integrate vFabric services separately into the PaaS, while continuing to offer an on-premises package of application services for enterprises with vFabric.

After that announcement, though, the question of differentiation still remained. How would the vFabric services package, revised with vFabric 5 in mid-June, differ from the Cloud Foundry Micro Cloud? Both products looked to offer the ability to download cloud application stacks into on-premises deployments, bundled, if desired, into a single virtual machine.

With the rollout of VMware's Micro Cloud Foundry beta this week, that answer is also becoming clear.

The main difference is one of scale -- while vFabric 5 technically can run all services in one virtual machine (VM), that's not how it's intended to be used; it's still more likely that users will scale out the VMs within a vFabric deployment, VMware officials said.

While vFabric 5 is intended to run on virtual servers in a data center, Micro Cloud is meant to run on a developer's laptop, with VMware's Fusion or Workstation as the container. Micro Cloud application images can be transferred to Cloud Foundry's PaaS for wider scaling, but unlike the vFabric platform, Micro Cloud in itself does not scale to multiple instances.

Micro Cloud includes a mini version of the Cloud Foundry platform; its main focus is on delivering various application development frameworks like Spring, Rails or Node.js to individual developers working in coffee shops. vFabric 5, by contrast, is a platform for on-premises, production enterprise application development using the Spring framework.

There are still unanswered questions around these early-stage products, of course, the biggest one being when Cloud Foundry developers will get their hands on the full set of vFabric services. On that question, VMware says integration is on the roadmap, but it's keeping the timeframe strictly under wraps.

Beth Pariseau is Senior News Writer for Email her at

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