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Jeff Hobbs, June 5, 2014
With the growing list of Cloud Foundry supporters, the question remains...can other open source PaaSes survive or has a new industry standard emerged? Despite PaaS being a nascent market, 33 companies (including HP, IBM, Rackspace, Docker and, of course, ActiveState) have bet on this particular horse in the race. For those just starting to look at implementing what a PaaS can do, the question is… what makes Cloud Foundry so great?
But first, why PaaS?
This brief summary is for those just trying to understand all of the layers in the cloud stack, so if you know this part, please skip to the next section. Simply put, a PaaS is a platform that enables organizations to deploy apps to the cloud faster and more efficiently by automatically configuring the application environment and management tooling for logging, monitoring, etc. (Remember that this is an attempt at a simple definition for new people… we could create a 4-part series defining PaaS and providing a grocery list of features and benefits).
What this means for your organization is that your developers can deploy whenever they want, without the need for tickets or IT involvement, while still being covered by regular backups and maintaining compliance rules. However, most enterprises are mired in the old way of doing things--they are "consciously stuck" doing manual tasks that could be automated with a PaaS. And companies are spending a significant amount of money maintaining these processes when they could instead be saving significant time and resources. To borrow a phrase, companies need to start "consciously uncoupling" from their current process, and look towards a more automated approach to doing business.
Why Cloud Foundry?
Now back to our story...
So why did 33 companies jump on the Cloud Foundry bandwagon?
Cloud Foundry is a very active project. If you've looked at the latest notes from the Cloud Foundry Community Advisory Board, you can read first hand the activity and improvements that various members are pushing for. They all know and appreciate how a PaaS can significantly benefit an organization, and know it's vital that Cloud Foundry keeps evolving to meet user demands to maintain its status as the best open source PaaS.
Last year we saw a complete rewrite of the Cloud Foundry API, as it moved from Cloud Foundry v1 to v2. The change was significant--the new version provided users a more "RESTFUL" experience (a better API for REST end-point to manage your PaaS), and reduced the complexity of the system, so it was lighter and simpler than before. We also saw the introduction of buildpacks, improved handling of logging and exceptions, and generally a better API, both internally and externally.
Cloud Foundry has the best ecosystem and architecture of any open source PaaS provider. It was designed from the beginning to be flexible, scalable, and extensible and we feel that it is very clearly the future model for IT as a Service platforms. Last July, I commented that with IBM's backing of Cloud Foundry, its competitors "didn't stand a chance."
It's almost a year later since the switch to v2, and the ecosystem is thriving and stronger than ever.
How does Stackato use Cloud Foundry?
Back in 2011 (when we were building our own PaaS from scratch) we made the switch to use Cloud Foundry as the foundation for Stackato. We've made changes to some components and added others in order to provide an enterprise ready, secure cloud enabled platform for Enterprise IT, but we have remained true to the Cloud Foundry architecture and have always maintained API compatibility. This allows enterprise IT to focus on just installing and running their own private PaaS immediately, instead of doing the setup and customization of Cloud Foundry using in-house developers. In turn, organizations can move faster and start realizing the benefits of PaaS much sooner.
Even though PaaS is still in its infancy, PaaS and Cloud Foundry are rapidly evolving. With every release of Stackato, we follow the upstream changes in Cloud Foundry and merge with our own enhancements. As more companies come together to contribute to this open source project, the ecosystem will only grow stronger and greater innovation will continue to only make PaaS even better.
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