Two Open-Source Cloud Standards: What It Means to You

VMware's new CloudFoundry platform emerged last week, marking a new alternative to the existing OpenStack standard. What's really going on here and what does it mean to your cloud migration plans?

By Kevin Fogarty
Wed, April 20, 2011

CIO — It's unlikely that hordes of VMware (VMW), Citrix or Microsoft (MSFT) Hyper-V users will flock to open-source virtualization or cloud-computing platform as an alternative to the hypervisors and virtualized infrastructure-management software they've already chosen, analysts say. So where does open source fit in the cloud world? Think lock-in and migration flexibility.

Cloud computing customers will want to investigate open-source cloud software for the same reason they are eager to have cloud- interoperability standards developed  to help them avoid being locked in to a single cloud vendor and to make it easier to integrate apps, virtual machines or other elements from external clouds or those of its business partners, says James Staten, vice president and principle analyst at Forrester.

More intriguing: There's a good possibility the introduction of a second major open-source cloud product, CloudFoundry, from the leading proprietary cloud vendor, VMware, indicates there will be a major structural change in the market for cloud computing that will make cloud services viable while cloud software becomes a commodity, says Chris Wolf, research VP at Gartner.

Announced on April 12, VMware's CloudFoundry platform, an open-source platform-as-a-service (PaaS) product, aims to give developers an easy way to deploy applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

CloudFoundry runs on top of VMware's proprietary vSphere virtualization software, but isn't locked into the same licensing structures. VMware will sell a proprietary version, and host or license others to host public proprietary versions of CloudFoundry, but will also offer the source code to customers wanting to develop their own PaaS platform, according to a blog announcing the product from VMware CTO Steve Herrod.

It's still very VMware-centric, and its open-source credibility has yet to be demonstrated, but an "Open PaaS" offering based on the open-source Apache applications, Hyperic, Groovy and Grails products that VMware bought along with SpringSource expand the development environment and migration options for its customers, Wolf says.

CloudFoundry will natively run apps built in Spring for Java, Rails and Sinatra for Ruby and Node as well as other Java frameworks.

OpenStack and the Migration Angle

The other major open-source alternative is OpenStack, an open-source cloud platform built for NASA by Rackspace, which combined its proprietary products with NASA's previous development on a cloud system.

OpenStack is available as open source from the Openstack project as well as in proprietary, better-supported editions from Rackspace and from Cloud.com, which offers a part open, part-proprietary set of services called CloudStack. Cloud.com's version includes interfaces designed to connect its clouds with Amazon's EC2 and supports hypervisors from VMware, Citrix and the open-source KVM.

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