The rise of the DevOps role in the enterprise and the increasing requirements of agility beyond infrastructure and applications make the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market one to watch for both CIOs and enterprise architecture professionals. On December 9, the membership of Cloud Foundry, a major PaaS open source project, announced the formation of the Cloud Foundry Foundation.

In my view, this is as important as the establishment of OpenStack foundation in 2012, which was a game-changing move for the cloud industry. Here’s why:

  • PaaS is becoming an important alternative to middleware stacks. Forrester defines PaaS as a complete application platform for multitenant cloud environments that includes development tools, runtime, and administration and management tools and services. (See our Forrester Wave evaluation for more detail on the space and its vendors.) In the cloud era, it’s a transformational alternative to established middleware stacks for the development, deployment, and administration of custom applications in a modern application platform, serving as a strategic layer between infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) with innovative tools.
  • Cloud Foundry is one major open source PaaS software. Cloud Foundry as a technology was designed and architected by Derek Collison and built in the Ruby and Go programming languages by Derek and Vadim Spivak (wiki is wrong!). VMware released it as open source in 2011 after Derek joined the company. Early adopters of Cloud Foundry include large multinationals like Verizon, SAP, NTT, and SAS, as well as Chinese Internet giants like Baidu.
  • The community is gaining momentum . . .The past year has seen a 36% increase in community contributions and more than 1,700 pull requests. Community contributions are extremely important to accelerate the maturation of the software; the latest update includes Docker support for Diego to replace Droplet Execution Agents for orchestrating the placement of newly started apps. In addition to Pivotal CF, IBM has integrated Cloud Foundry into its Bluemix offering; HP has also made it part of its Helion portfolio.
  • . . . and will reassure enterprises about the value of PaaS.The formalization of Cloud Foundry will provide additional reassurance to enterprises looking to accelerate app development and increase agility in the middleware layer. It will implement Dojo as the new approach to open source development, which offers developers a unique “fast track” for commit rights. Platinum members include EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Pivotal, SAP, and VMware; gold members include Accenture, Capgemini, Hortonworks, NTT, SAS, and Swisscom. Anchora (MoPaaS) is the only Chinese company within the group of silver members.

There are alternatives, including Red Hat OpenShift and Microsoft Azure, for customers in the Chinese market; see my PaaS market dynamics reportfor details. PaaS was never meant to be a silver bullet for all agility-oriented technology management issues; as I blogged previously, you can also consider future Docker/container-based IaaS+DevOps solutions. Which one will you bet your future success on?