Pivotal opens up Cloud Foundry to open source fights

Three open source versions are likely too many for small PaaS market -- and could lead to confusion and standards wars

Pivotal spun out the Cloud Foundry Foundation last week, marking another instance where a commercial effort turns into an open source play. It'll be interesting see how this move works, given that both OpenStack and Red Hat's OpenShift PaaS platforms are aimed at the same users. There are three hurdles for the CFF to get past:

  • The PaaS market is relatively small compared to the IaaS and SaaS spaces. Having three or more open source standards may be too many for the market to support.
  • IT organizations and developers are already confused about what PaaS brings to the cloud computing table. Having three open source versions won't help clarify matters.
  • Inevitably, somebody will end up on the right side of the wrong standard, adding risk for those adopting PaaS.

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The extremely well-funded Cloud Foundry was already an open source PaaS, licensed under Apache 2.0. However, Pivotal will now allow a consortium of other vendors to participate in Cloud Foundry's governance and direction. Founding members of the initiative include EMC, VMware (an EMC subsidiary), Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Rackspace, and SAP.

The OpenStack PaaS project, Solum, is new, so it has little traction. The expanded reach of the more established Cloud Foundry could end up deflating the value of Solum before it has a chance to become a significant player.

New standards in the PaaS space often become very polarizing very quickly, as well as hugely confusing. Enterprises that actually need a PaaS and prefer open source could end up avoiding all open source PaaS options for fear of the drama that could occur over the next few years. Competing open source efforts have a history of becoming quite political.

Regardless of the technology, we've been arguing about competing open source standards forever. It sounds like we are in for yet another round.

This article, "Pivotal opens up Cloud Foundry to open source fights," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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