Cloud Foundry, the open source project for application developers, says modern apps can be developed on its platform to run in multiple clouds. Furthermore, it will certify which cloud products and services are guaranteed to work with applications produced on Cloud Foundry.
Cloud Foundry Certified is a kind of a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval that says: Develop on Cloud Foundry and your application will work with the following tools and cloud environments. One publication, the UK's The Register, even called it the "good cloud-keeping seal of approval."
The program is starting off with a list of seven cloud suppliers.
Amazon isn't on the list, but other partners include IBM Bluemix, HP Enterprise Helion on-premises cloud, CenturyLink's AppFog development platform (based on Cloud Foundry open source), SAP HANA Cloud Platform, and Chinese giant Huawei's FusionStage. Huawei's FusionStage is a set of cloud services that it says it hopes will one day "equal Google in cloud services."
In effect, Cloud Foundry is seeking to become the cross-vendor platform for producing the next generation of applications.
Cloud suppliers that sign up for Cloud Foundry's certification become candidate cloud environments for those applications. There are many other claimants to this crown, but Cloud Foundry's members and supporters represent an unusual combination of virtual machines, containers, development tools, and cloud management expertise. They include VMware, IBM, HP Enterprise, and Pivotal, the VMware spinoff that produces the only commercial version of Cloud Foundry open source code.
Cloud Foundry CEO Sam Ramji said in the Dec. 15 announcement that his organization was working to establish a level playing field in the cloud.
"In the first generation of cloud computing, companies sacrificed portability and choice for speed and cost-efficiency, tying them to a single provider such as Amazon or Google," Ramji said. Companies planning to use the cloud in the long term want a way to develop apps that can run on different clouds, he added.
But that's easier said than done.
Cloud Foundry now supplies such a platform, but Microsoft is another big player that has declined to sign up. Cloud Foundry lets developers use Visual Studio, C Sharp, and other .Net languages, but that doesn't necessarily help Microsoft Azure, which started out as a competing platform-as-a-service focused on Windows/.Net. In effect, Azure was a rival to a platform more focused on Java and open source languages. It has added support for Python and other open source code, but it remains a strong Windows/.Net offering.
"This is a big development for enterprises striving to remain relevant as software gobbles the world. Cloud Foundry Certification ensures that application code running in one Cloud Foundry service will run seamlessly in another," wrote Jared Ruckle, a CenturyLink blogger, on Dec. 16.
One backer of the certification move is BNY Mellon's CIO Suresh Kumar, who spoke to InformationWeek in October about the financial institution's Nexen cross-company platform. It plans to base development of hundreds of future app on the platform.
The bank is a founding member of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, formed in early 2014 as Cloud Foundry split away from its parent companies, Pivotal and VMware.
"We are betting big on Cloud Foundry to run our next-generation Nexen digital ecosystem. We need to be able to run our apps all over the world, and that means we need Certified Cloud Foundry to guarantee portability," Kumar said in Cloud Foundry's announcement Dec. 15.
Cloud Foundry also has a reputation for providing good virtual machine and container tools geared to modern microservice applications. It automatically embraced VMware and open source hypervisors. Its Garden and Warden container technologies were designed to deal with different container formats and runtimes, moving it beyond the just-Docker approach prevalent in the early days of containers.
Another user commenting in Cloud Foundry's announcement was Kaiser Permanente's CTO Mike Sutten.
Kaiser is developing new healthcare applications "to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare. It is important we have a platform on which we can rely over time. ... We know we're going to need freedom to choose other suppliers in the future," he wrote. He didn't name Kaiser's current cloud service supplier, but Kaiser advertises programming jobs where Amazon experience is sought.
[Want to learn more about Cloud Foundry's main competitor? See Red Hat Preps Containerized Cloud Workloads in OpenShift.]
ActiveState's Stackato was a version of Cloud Foundry with a commercial front-end to make it easier to use. Stackato, launched by ActiveState in 2012, was acquired by HP in July and integrated into HP Helion, slated to be phased out as a public cloud service in January. Helion and Stackato remain available for use on-premises for building cloud applications.
Pivotal's product is Pivotal Cloud Foundry, formerly Pivotal CF, a name used back in the early days of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, when no commercial company was allowed to use the Cloud Foundry name. Commercial products may now use the name, provided they are certified as meeting the Cloud Foundry standards.
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