As I’ve mentioned in some earlier blogs, IBM’s open cloud architecture efforts extend beyond infrastructure as a service (IaaS) all the way up the stack through platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS). This is increasingly critical for our customers and partners who are exploring new, innovative use cases for cloud. We’ve been hard at work on defining a wide variety of technologies that relate to our open cloud architecture, including participating in the expanding OpenStack community, beginning work on MongoDB and continuing our efforts in W3C and OASIS and other consortia on standards like Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) and Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC).
But today’s focus is our work that extends into the PaaS and SaaS layers. We’ve just announced that IBM is collaborating with Pivotal on further development of the Cloud Foundry platform and open source project. One of the key aspects of the announcement is that Pivotal and IBM will work with the existing community members to further develop and establish an open governance model for Cloud Foundry. There’s more, and the full press release lays out the details, but in short: “Cloud Foundry is an interoperable Platform-as-a-Service framework that allows users to have freedom of choice across cloud infrastructure and application programming models, and cloud applications.”
As the open source community has grown around Cloud Foundry, Pivotal has been working toward greater transparency and openness in the project’s governance. IBM has been very pleased with the progress, and we look forward to working with Pivotal and the community of developers and users in taking the Cloud Foundry project to even greater openness and transparency. This direction is in line with the IBM vision for an open cloud architecture, so we are joining with Pivotal to establish a community advisory board of users and vendors—including IBM. Together we will cohost a conference for the Cloud Foundry community on September 8–9 in Santa Clara, California, bringing this great group of cloud developers together to discuss their latest innovative ideas.
For those of you who are familiar with Cloud Foundry, I think you’ll agree the community has been doing great work, and Cloud Foundry has the potential to be a must-have enterprise asset, enabling open applications in the cloud. (For those wanting to hear more about the importance of an open cloud architecture, check out my May developerWorks blog.)
The bigger (open) cloud imperative
Working with more than 9,000 cloud clients, IBM sees an increasing appetite for an open cloud. This is no passing fad. Cloud is changing everything and reinventing how our customers think about IT. Cloud computing is a very broad concept, but that also means it can mean different things for every business. For some it means self-service infrastructure automation and virtualization. For others, it is about rapidly deploying and scaling applications. Others are looking at cloud for big data and analytics. It is about the Internet of Things and the emerging API economy of SaaS.
However, each of these various perspectives has a need to leverage aspects of the others. Big data (Hadoop), PaaS (for example, Cloud Foundry) and SaaS all need support from an underlying infrastructure. Many of the web, mobile, social and analytic apps deployed to a PaaS like Cloud Foundry need data services like MongoDB. What will ensure a steady stream of innovation, enabling these domains to complement and integrate easily and interoperably with each other, ensuring that your data and workloads are portable from one environment to the next, is if each of these is truly open.
Clouds that are built on proprietary technologies will let you deploy applications and data to do work, but frequently you’re locked in to using that solution and will have challenges integrating it with other cloud-based solutions covering different domains that are important to your enterprise. Trying to move your data assets to another vendor, or perhaps even another environment with the same vendor, requires timely modifications, reducing your business’s ability to adapt. This is why IBM has been working across the open source and open standards landscape relative to cloud, encouraging even more openness and transparency.
Cloud computing is valuable when it is flexible, and that’s why an open cloud is an imperative. For some businesses, this flexibility could manifest itself as software that enables them to collect and manipulate vast amounts of data within a context that provides valuable insight about customer needs. Or perhaps it enables employees to efficiently collaborate by breaking down information silos and ensuring they have the right information to make business decisions as a team. Regardless of what your business wants to do with cloud, it’s important to consider how the cloud will best interact with your data and your processes to do work. This is where an open cloud architecture becomes important. Data and workloads need to be portable.
IBM, cloud computing and customer value
IBM is unique in bringing together key cloud technologies, deep process knowledge, a broad portfolio of cloud solutions and a network of global delivery centers. To date, IBM has invested more than $4 billion in SaaS acquisitions—Coremetrics for web analytics and Sterling Commerce for business-to-business (B2B) commerce, to name a few. Revenue grew by 80 percent in 2012 as IBM clients in banking, communications, healthcare and government came to see the advantage of an open cloud and to leverage IBM cloud-based business and infrastructure services to their advantage.
This new IBM and Pivotal technology collaboration is already delivering value. These technology efforts enable programming languages or frameworks to be deployed on the Cloud Foundry platform and have enabled a preview version of IBM WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core, IBM’s innovative lightweight version of the IBM WebSphere Application Server. This helps clients respond to enterprise and market needs more quickly by enabling less-complex, rapid development and deployment of web, mobile, social and analytic applications using fewer resources. With the capabilities of the WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core running on Cloud Foundry, developers benefit from the robustness of the WebSphere platform and the innovation of the emerging cloud architecture.
CIOs are calling for a more open and vibrant cloud development platform. Cloud Foundry has the potential to meet this demand and help enterprises avoid vendor lock-in. An open Cloud Foundry platform enables clients to rapidly build, deploy and manage cloud applications in a more agile, more scalable manner, with confidence. Cloud Foundry can provide this flexibility; for instance, with an open cloud platform, e-commerce apps can be easily deployed providing access to retail promotions across clouds.
Come join us
I hope you’ll come to the Cloud Foundry event in September in Santa Clara, California. I’ll also repost updated information here as more details emerge. And if you haven’t checked out the great work being done in the community, you can find information about Cloud Foundry at http://www.cloudfoundry.com/. As an Apache 2.0 licensed project, it’s available on Github.
And finally, Paul Maritz, CEO of Pivotal, recently said, “We look forward to growing and expanding an open Cloud Foundry community together with IBM.” I want to say thank you! And I couldn’t agree more with Paul’s sentiment. I look forward to working with Paul, the Pivotal team and the Cloud Foundry community in the coming months.