IBM support for Cloud Foundry stands to benefit OpenStack, Java too

Big Blue backs open source PaaS provider, will serve on forthcoming Cloud Foundry community advisory board

IBM today announced it's throwing its enterprise heft behind Cloud Foundry, the VMWare-spawned open source PaaS unveiled in 2011. Judging by the success that IaaS OpenStack has enjoyed since securing IBM's support a year ago, Big Blue's embrace of Cloud Foundry could help the service muscle past rival offerings from the likes of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Red Hat, and Salesforce.com. Not only does Cloud Foundry stand to make strides with IBM's backing, so do OpenStack and Java, which also have strong backing from the behemoth.

Per the announcement, IBM is joining Cloud Foundry steward Pivotal in collaborating on developing Cloud Foundry, as well as establishing an open-governance model for the community. What's more, Pivotal plans to create a Cloud Foundry community advisory -- of which IBM will be a member -- tasked with guiding the community. Additionally, IBM is committing to incorporating Cloud Foundry into its open cloud architecture. Finally, IBM and Pivotal will cohost a Cloud Foundry community conference this September in Santa Clara, Calif.

That IBM is embracing an open source PaaS should come as no surprise, given the company's historical success backing such related technologies as Eclipse, Linux, and most recently OpenStack. "From an IBM perspective, we've always had this view that you want to innovate in the open," said Angel Diaz, VP of software standards and cloud labs at IBM. "You want folks to come together and drive innovations, then [you] add value on top of that with your clients."

IBM's overarching goal here, according to Diaz, is to accelerate cloud adoption by backing open source technologies that attract the most developers. IBM has observed growing interest in Cloud Foundry among members of the developer community, who are "starting to move from just creating a user-facing app to actually coding a transaction," Diaz said.

IBM profits from the success of the open source cloud technologies by providing the hardware, software, and services companies need to build out their own initiatives. By securing a leadership role at this early stage, IBM gets to establish itself as a Cloud Foundry leader -- and the company will have greater influence on Cloud Foundry's evolution in the context of the cloud ecosystem.

"We clearly have a point of view of what needs to be added to the code," said Diaz. "We're going to be actively contributing."

One of IBM's goals, in fact, is for develop Cloud Foundry to run "in a more first-class way on OpenStack," said Diaz. "There's just no question, that's a priority for us."

IBM is also working with Pivotal to on the technology that enables programming languages or frameworks to be deployed on Cloud Foundry. Among the early fruits of these efforts: a preview version of WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core, IBM's lightweight version of the Java-based WebSphere Application Server.

Diaz emphasized that IBM doesn't plan to partner with Pivotal to take full control over Cloud Foundry's evolution. "The whole notion of governance is for everybody," he said. "I don't want you to think that just two of us are going to change the world. It's going to be a bunch of others."

Pivotal's James Watters, head of product for Cloud Foundry, predicted that IBM's support will have a ripple effect in the cloud world and light a fire under companies that have been slow to embrace the cloud. "After this IBM announcement, more and more vendors and customer are going to say, 'What is our PaaS strategy?'" he said. "That will give us the benefit of a lot more customer conversations."

This article, "IBM support for Cloud Foundry stands to benefit OpenStack, Java too," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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