Conceptually, the shift to platform as a service (PaaS) makes a lot of sense. Instead of managing stacks of computing, a PaaS environment makes it simpler to manage large swaths of the IT environment at a higher level of abstraction. For that reason, Cloud Foundry has received a lot of interest. It’s an open source implementation of a PaaS environment that can run on both public and private clouds.
Originally developed by the Pivotal unit of EMC, Cloud Foundry has found a fair amount of support among vendors that see it as providing a counterbalance against the growing influence of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services. The theory is that if IT is managed at the PaaS layer, then the underlying infrastructure on which that PaaS environment rests becomes just another IT means to an end.
At the moment, the leading implementation of Cloud Foundry comes from Pivotal in the form of Pivotal CF, the implementation of Cloud Foundry that Pivotal sells. The challenge most IT organizations have today is that they don’t have a lot of internal expertise when it comes to deploying and managing Cloud Foundry.
Looking to fill that gap, Atos SE created a Canopy joint venture with EMC and its VMware subsidiary. Faiz Parkar, global director of product marketing for PaaS at Canopy, says the goal is to give IT organizations access to Cloud Foundry expertise, most recently in the form of a Canopy Cloud Fabric service in which Canopy will manage a private cloud based on Cloud Foundry on behalf of its customers.
Ultimately, Parkar says we’ll see that federated cloud computing environments based on Cloud Foundry will enable organizations to build a digital business through which they can dynamically compose new services regardless of where the application resides.
Since it’s an open source platform, anyone can download and install Cloud Foundry. But knowing what to do with it is another matter altogether. An open source PaaS platform that can be deployed anywhere gives IT organizations a lot of control inside and outside of the cloud. But as technology, Cloud Foundry is still relatively immature. The real challenge is finding someone with enough Cloud Foundry expertise to turn all that Cloud Foundry potential into an actual IT reality.