IBM has shifted its cloud computing strategy by throwing its weight behind the Pivotal platform-as-a-service (PaaS) initiative that is being led by the subsidiary of EMC.
Recently spun out as an independent business unit of EMC, Pivotal is developing a PaaS platform called Cloud Foundry that can be deployed on top of any infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform, including private clouds managed by internal IT organizations.
According to Chris Ferris, IBM engineer and CTO of Industry Standards in the Software Group Standards Strategy organization, with Cloud Foundry emerging as an open PaaS platform, IBM decided to adopt Cloud Foundry as a natural extension of its support for the emerging OpenStack cloud management platform.
Cloud Foundry is designed to support a variety of application languages and run-time environments, which, in the case of IBM, will be used to run applications that are designed to run on top of IBM WebSphere.
Ferris says IBM views Cloud Foundry as being particularly well suited to run systems of engagement applications in the cloud. As long as the APIs are open, Ferris says it should be up to customers to decide where they want to deploy those applications, although IBM would prefer they take advantage of the range of IaaS offerings that it currently offers.
As a counterweight to Amazon Web Services, Andy Piper, developer advocate for Cloud Foundry at Pivotal, says Cloud Foundry is designed to run not only on AWS, but in the future it can also be deployed on Microsoft Hyper-V or Citrix Xen Server platforms. In addition to OpenStack, Piper says Cloud Foundry will also support cloud management frameworks such as vSphere from VMware or the proprietary application programming interfaces surrounding AWS.
In effect, Piper says Pivotal is positioning Cloud Foundry as the equivalent of Linux for the cloud. Instead of managing various cloud applications in isolation, Cloud Foundry provides a foundation for unifying the building, deploying and managing of cloud applications at a higher level of abstraction.
Of course, there are still a number of challenges to overcome in terms of orchestrating services across hybrid cloud computing environments. But clearly, open APIs, in any form, are a significant step toward preventing a reoccurrence of isolated stacks that tend to make enterprise computing a costly exercise in frustration.