Today VMWare is about to make a big announcement about CloudFoundry.com. I'm writing this post before the actual announcement was made and while on the road, so more details will probably emerge later, but there is the gist of it:
VMWare is launching CloudFoundry.com. This is a VMWare owned and operated platform-as-a-Service. It's a big step in the OpenPaaS intiative they have been talking about for the past year: "Multiple Clouds, Multiple Frameworks, Multiple Services".
For those of you keeping track, CloudFoundry is the official name for the DevCloud and AppCloud services which have come out in various alpha and beta releases in the last few months.
The following diagram summarizes the basic idea behind CloudFoundry.com:
In other words, in addition to running your apps on VMWare's own PaaS service (CloudFoundry.com), VMWare will make this framework available to other cloud providers -- as well as for enterprises to run in-house as a private cloud (I'm told this will be in beta by the end of this year). In fact, they are going to open source CloudFoundry under an Apache license.
They're also going to support multiple frameworks, not just their own Java/Spring framework but Ruby, Node.JS and others (initally, several JVM-based frameworks). This concept is similar to the one from DotCloud, which I discussed in What's the Best Platform-as-a-Service.
On the services front, they are going to provide multiple services provided by VMWare itself, and eventually, open it up to the ecosystem for third-parties (similar to Heroku Add-Ons or Salesforce.com AppExchange).
Where it says in the diagram above "data service", for example, VMWare already has three offerings: MySQL (similar to Amazon RDS), MongoDB and Redis. For "message service" they will offer their own Rabbit MQ and other messaging services.
Finally, you'll notice there is reference to a "Downloadable 'Micro Cloud'" in the diagram. This is a free offering from VMWare that lets you run a CloudFoundry cloud on a single VM, which you can carry around on a USB memory stick or run on an Amazon Machine Image (which is what Michael from RightScale is going to demonstrate today). The idea behind the Micro Cloud is to appeal mostly to developers and let them easily do development in any physical location and seamlessly load their app to a CloudFoundry cloud when they are ready.
The Micro Cloud is one more aspect of this intiative that is intended to appeal to developers and encourage bottom-up adoption for the VMWare cloud. I've discussed the idea of developers being the driving force of cloud adoption before, and you can read more about it in this post.
All in all, a very smart, if not unexpected, move by VMWare. But it remains to be seen how VMWare will handle the inevitable conflict between being a cloud provider and hoping to be the provider of infrastructure software for other providers. Case in point: VMForce, the joint offering announced by VMWare and Salesforce.com several months ago.
Officially, both companies say everything is on track for the VMForce offering, and VMWare says VMForce is "powered by CloudFoundry". But as I am quoted in this TechTarget article, the companies were already on a collision course, especially after Salesforce.com's Heroku acquisition.
From talking to some of the folks at VMWare, it's clear that they too believe that the future of computing is PaaS -- something I believe strongly in. It will be interesting to see how they execute on this grand vision.