Review: Cloud Foundry brings power and polish to PaaS

Cloud Foundry impresses with broad application support, streamlined deployment, and enterprise extras from Pivotal, though initial setup could be simpler

Cloud Foundry was created by VMware to streamline deployment for application developers, application operators, and cloud operators. Then in April 2011, Cloud Foundry was announced as open source under the Apache 2.0 license, with the pitch to developers that they could code in the language and Web framework of their choice without worrying about the IT environment.

In February 2014, VMware spin-off Pivotal announced the formation of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, with Pivotal, EMC, IBM, Rackspace, and VMware as Platinum sponsors. The foundation has since expanded to 33 members and 42 contributing companies. One differentiator for Cloud Foundry is support for Pivotal HD Hadoop MapReduce, HAWQ SQL for Hadoop, and GemFire XD analytics. Another is the availability of the Pivotal Mobile Services Suite, thanks to last year's acquisition of Xtreme Labs. Pivotal's big data services and mobile services are both now integrated with Pivotal CF, the company's enterprise version of Cloud Foundry.

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Several Cloud Foundry Foundation members have released their own distributions of Cloud Foundry, including ActiveState with its Stackato product. The free Stackato Micro Cloud comes packaged for VirtualBox, VMware Fusion/Player, VMware vSphere, and KVM.

Although the open source Micro Cloud Foundry VM has not yet been updated to Cloud Foundry v2, you can install Cloud Foundry open source locally using either bosh-lite or cf_nise_installer. Bosh-lite supports VMware Fusion/Player, VirtualBox, and Amazon Web Services, while cf_nise_installer only supports VirtualBox.

I asked Pivotal about the lack of a Micro Cloud Foundry v2 VM and got this response from Jamie O'Meara, Pivotal CF community engineer:

Our focus is on delivering an enterprise PaaS experience for Cloud Foundry, which includes installation into a number of cloud providers like vSphere/vCHS, OpenStack, AWS, and Google Compute Engine. As part of the experience, we found developers willing to build and use their local tools or to push to private and public instances of Cloud Foundry.

Bosh-lite is a tool that offers support for a portion of CF v2 and is used to perform specific tasks such as building BOSH deployable services like a database. It is not a replacement for Micro Cloud Foundry, which is still on our roadmap. Stackato's Micro is based on CF v2 with some proprietary additions.

Pivotal itself has two Cloud Foundry PaaS offerings: the online Pivotal Web Services, and the enterprise-oriented Pivotal CF. These are complemented by Pivotal HD and related cloud service offerings, as well as other specialized data offerings such as the Pivotal Greenplum RDBMS, Pivotal GemFire, and Pivotal SQLFire. In addition, Pivotal's acquisition last year of Xtreme Labs has given it a suite of mobile services that integrates with its PaaS and its big data services.

As mentioned in the statement by Jamie O'Meara, Pivotal CF runs on VMware, OpenStack, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Value (10.0%)
Installation and setup (15.0%)
Management (20.0%)
Documentation (15.0%)
Breadth of support (20.0%)
Ease of use (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
Pivotal CF 1.2 9.0 7.0 8.0 8.0 9.0 9.0 8.4
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