Pivotal to spin out Cloud Foundry PaaS into separate foundation

Pivotal, EMC, IBM, Rackspace, and VMware sponsor effort to make the open source cloud platform an industry standard

The Cloud Foundry cloud computing platform is gaining a degree of independence.

Pivotal on Monday will announce its intentions to set up an independent organization, known as the Cloud Foundry Foundation, to oversee the open source Cloud Foundry platform. The nonprofit foundation will be part of plans to establish this summer a formal open governance model for the Cloud Foundry open source PaaS project. Pivotal, EMC, IBM, Rackspace, and VMware will serve as Platinum sponsors, with each committing $1.5 million to the effort.

"We decided to form a model where we could have a common governance approach that allows every company to participate," said Pivotal's James Watters, head of product for Cloud Foundry. A non-Pivotal employee will direct the foundation. The organization is intended to unite industry leaders to grow the "open PaaS movement" and develop a cloud architecture for building business applications, Pivotal said.

Cloud Foundry Foundation will be similar to another cloud venture, the OpenStack Foundation, which features a stack of open source cloud software that has been loosely overseen by Rackspace. Rather than turn over Cloud Foundry to a prominent open source organization such as the Apache Software Foundation, Pivotal and partner companies believe a small coalition of vendors working together directly was the best way to proceed. Cloud Foundry is licensed under an Apache 2.0 license.

"Sometimes, when [a project is taken over] by the Apache Foundation, it leads to some strange behaviors in terms of hiring committers, etc," Watters said. "The Apache Foundation is fantastic and it works for many projects, but we thought for this specific project -- which we want to be an industry standard that a lot vendors work on together -- this was the right approach."

Moving Cloud Foundry to an independent foundation was seen as progress by industry analyst Stephen O'Grady, of RedMonk. "This is an important evolutionary step forward for the Cloud Foundry project. As we've seen in years past with open source projects such as Eclipse that expect to see erstwhile rivals collaborate on a project, the independence of a foundation becomes important."

O'Grady was not worried about concerns that Cloud Foundry could have issues with forking. "Cloud Foundry has attracted a tremendous amount of interest since its inception, which has led to some fears of the project being forked. To date, however, the practical impacts of this concern have been negligible."

Cloud Foundry is a multicloud technology that can run in private infrastructure or a public cloud and can be used to build large-scale data services, Watters said. "I think there [are] definitely hundreds of thousands of developers that have used it or use it either hosted or online, and we'd really like it to get to be the millions," said Watters. Making it a broad industry standard will help get Cloud Foundry to that number, he added. Java, Node.js, and Ruby development have been leveraged on Cloud Foundry.

The Cloud Foundry open source ecosystem has had participation from major companies and more than 750 individual contributors, Pivotal said. Pivotal itself was spun out of EMC/VMware in April 2013, taking jurisdiction over Cloud Foundry, Cetas, and Greenplum big data analytics and SpringSource Java development technologies.

(InfoWorld Editor Eric Knorr contributed to this report.)

This story, "Pivotal to spin out Cloud Foundry PaaS into separate foundation," 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 developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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