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A Look Back At 2013 And Forward To 2014
by Phil Whelan

Phil Whelan, December 30, 2013

As we conclude 2013 and prepare to start a new year of technological wonder, I thought it would be good to look back at this past year from ActiveState’s point-of-view in the arena of PaaS, Cloud Foundry and other interesting things such as Docker.

Cloud Foundry Ecosystem

2013 has definitely been a big year for Cloud Foundry. We have seen Pivotal Labs take the reins from VMware for driving the open-source project. We have seen a huge rewrite of the code base with the newer v2 implementation of Cloud Foundry. We have seen the Cloud Foundry Advisory Board (CAB) grow to include ActiveState, IBM, Intel, Savvis, Canonical, Cloud Credo, Stark & Wayne and Piston Cloud.

Earlier this year, the first PlatformCF conference took place, which was a great gathering of the Cloud Foundry community from around the world and was a big success.

2014? It is going to be a hot year for the Cloud Foundry open-source project. With the Advisory Board now active and deeper involvement from IBM and others, I think the ecosystem will change quite dramatically. Both ActiveState and some of our close competitors have had major releases at the very end of 2013, so we are going to see us building on that as we move forward into 2014.

Stackato

The beginning of 2013 saw several releases of the 2.x version of Stackato, which was based on Cloud Foundry v1. With a rapid release cycle we were adding some great features with each release (distributed logging, TCP/UDP port services, user groups, web socket support, multiple Cloud Controllers) while still retaining compatibility with Cloud Foundry v1 and making improvements to the Cloud Foundry base.

2.10.6 was the most recent release of Stackato 2.x and has proven to be solid platform for our customers to build out into production. This put us in a great position to move forward with Stackato and begin to deliver on where we see PaaS going.

Stackato v3.0 has been a longer release cycle than previous releases, due to how much we wanted to change it. With our customers feeling content with the stability and solid proven platform that was 2.10.6, we dug deep and set about recreating Stackato.

You can read more in A Technical Look At Stackato v3.0-beta, which also covers the, since released, non-beta 3.0.1 version. In short, we replaced Cloud Foundry v1 with Cloud Foundry v2 (no small feat), replaced our own implementation of LXC usage with Docker, completely rewrote the web console and several other major improvements.

2014? Stackato 3.0 was just the first chapter in a new book on Stackato and it broke new ground. You will see a great deal of awesome from Stackato over the next few months as we build on the new foundation we have created. We are all proud of 3.0, but very excited for 3.2 and beyond.

PaaS

Just like the Cloud Foundry ecosystem, the PaaS ecosystem in general is heating up, although there are still very few major players. Most big players that are newly joining the ranks, such as IBM, are choosing Cloud Foundry for their foundation. There is good reason for this.

2013 saw little innovation in the private PaaS space outside of the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. Docker was by far the largest success story, having seen a huge groundswell of development, innovation and general DevOps excitement around it. Docker was born out of public PaaS and there is no denying that it is an obvious building block for PaaS in general. There has been many “PaaS” solutions materializing that utilize Docker, but so far Stackato v3.0 is the only enterprise grade solution that has incorporated it.

2014? Many of the big players in private PaaS are starting to find their rhythm and so I believe things will move more quickly in 2014. At the end of 2013 we saw more differentiation emerging between solutions and that will no doubt continue in 2014.

Docker is not going away and Stackato will not be alone for long with its utilization of Docker for enterprise private PaaS. But Stackato will definitely be ahead of the pack and we are looking to do a lot more with Docker in the coming releases of Stackato.

DevOps

For me personally, 2013 had a heavy focus on DevOps. Having spoken at DevOps Days Atlanta and organized DevOps Days Vancouver, I am starting to see how fast the DevOps community is growing, but still how new it is. Most attendees to the DevOps Days events are there for the first time, but they all come with such drive and enthusiasm that the DevOps Days conferences now have a great reputation. The Vancouver event sold itself on this reputation. From just attending these events, you can see the immense need for DevOps and it is spreading like wildfire and reaching its way into all organizations large and small.

ActiveState knows that private PaaS in a key tool for solving many of the issues DevOps is trying to solve. Mainly, deploying and scaling developer applications efficiently while keeping oversight on what it going on across the organization in terms of application lifecycle.

2014? More DevOps, please!

Conclusion

In 2013, we have seen an acceleration in so many components surrounding PaaS. For instance, Docker has made it possible for many startups to enter the PaaS arena and while they fall short of enterprise-grade solutions, they bring innovative and new ideas.

There is no doubt that PaaS is still new. We spend a lot of time educating developers and Operations teams that a solution exists and the response is generally “Wow!”. We constantly see organizations wasting resources trying to solve the basics of what PaaS offers. There is still a disconnect.

In 2013, we saw few talks or discussions that involved PaaS, because there are not enough people using it to talk in-depth about it. Will this change in 2014? Personally, I think yes. With some very transparent and well respected companies using PaaS, the knowledge and understanding will start to spread. The growing DevOps community will make this easier.

Image courtesy of indraw@Flickr

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Phil Whelan has been a software developer at ActiveState since early 2012 and has been involved in many layers of the Stackato product, from the JavaScript-based web console right through to the Cloud Controller API. Phil has been the lead developer on kato, the command-line tool for administering Stackato. Phil's current role is Developer Evangelist for Stackato. Prior to coming to ActiveState, Phil worked in London for BBC, helping build the iPlayer, and Cloudera in San Francisco, support Hadoop and HBase. He also spent time in Japan, where he worked for Livedoor.com and met his wife. Phil enjoys working with big data and has built several large-scale data processing applications including real-time search engines, log indexing and a global IP reputation network. You can find Phil on Twitter at @philwhln, where you can ask him any questions about Stackato. Alternatively, email at philw at activestate.com