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Cloud Foundry PaaS takes big step with certification

The Cloud Foundry PaaS certification solidifies the core of the technology backed by some of the biggest IT vendors in the world.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation, the organization behind open source frameworks for building platform as a service capabilities, took a major step toward its stated goal of interoperability this week with a new certification program.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation has agreed upon an underlying standard all companies must meet to maintain the Cloud Foundry platform as a service (PaaS) brand. This solidifies the value of the technology and ensures a certain degree of portability between different vendors' versions, industry observers said.

BNY Mellon Wealth Management, which provides technology and hosted services to Wall Street, and is a founding member of the foundation, has put Cloud Foundry PaaS at the center of many of its IT plans going forward. Wall Street remains wary of public cloud, but BNY Mellon needs to be prepared for the future, too, said Michael Gardner, managing director and head of BNY Mellon innovation. 

"Eventually, that [aversion to public cloud] will change. And at that point, we need the option of recarpetability of our capacity, so we could relatively easily expand and have hybrid outside our own private cloud," Gardner said.

Vendors must be recertified every year and be up to date with the latest certification within a certain window of its release, with backward and forward compatibility.

The foundation has 55 members, including some of the biggest names in IT. The first vendors to have their PaaS offering verified are CenturyLink, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, IBM, Pivotal, SAP and Swisscom. Six more are expected to be certified in the next couple months.

vendor lock-in remains a concern for customers, so while Cloud Foundry vendors can still add layers to differentiate their products, this will address some of those concerns, said Stephen Hendrick, principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass.

"By not having differences in the core and moving in lockstep, what that ensures is there's a really high level of portability from one vendor to another," Hendrick said.

The new certification is a big deal, said John Rymer, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass.

"We know what the Cloud Foundry brand means and what is included in there," Rymer said. "Without that, the whole proposition falls apart."

There is precedent for the importance of this move with another major open source cloud project, Rymer said. OpenStack standards took years to deliver, so there was no real definition of what the technology was and no implementations were the same.

And in order to back up that promise of interoperability and freedom of implementation, which are two of the key draws to Cloud Foundry, it's also important that the foundation took the novel approach to have certification actively monitored and kept up to date, he added.

Cloud Foundry can run on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, as well as range of on-premises infrastructures.

And while this is an important step, it shouldn't be confused with the idea that these services will soon compete with the major public cloud options, Rymer said. Forrester hears from clients interested in Cloud Foundry mostly on private infrastructure, with the exception of IBM Bluemix, so Rymer is hopeful more public cloud varieties become available in the next year or so.

"We're hoping to see more, mainly because I don't think you can succeed as a private internal option only," Rymer said.

One of the key draws of Cloud Foundry -- especially for large multinationals with geolocation concerns -- is not so much being able to jump workloads from platform to platform, but being able to use multiple platforms in concert, depending on the needs of the workload, according to Sam Ramji, Cloud Foundry Foundation CEO.

Trevor Jones is a news writer with TechTarget's data center and virtualization media group. Contact him at [email protected]

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