Cloud Foundry and the Application Cloud Revolution

Guest Blog: Bernard Golden, VP Strategy, ActiveState Software

 

Cloud computing, in the form of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) has brought a real revolution to the use of computing infrastructure. In the past, resource provisioning commonly took multiple weeks or even months. IaaS, underpinned by the flexibility of virtualization, has reduced resource provisioning timeframes to hours – or even minutes.

 

It does not take a fortuneteller to predict that the next frontier of cloud computing will be in applications; specifically, the IaaS revolution will soon be matched by a restructuring of the ways applications are designed, deployed, and operated. Using application frameworks, organizations will reduce application lifecycles as dramatically as they used IaaS to reduce their infrastructure timeframes. Naturally, there is a term for these frameworks: Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). While a number of PaaS offerings have been released into the marketplace, the offering with the largest ecosystem and vendor adoption is Cloud Foundry.

 

One way Cloud Foundry reduces application lifecycles is by providing preconfigured resources that are commonly used by most applications – since most applications use a database to store data, Cloud Foundry provides database services that support widely used products like MySQL.

 

Another way Cloud Foundry reduces application lifecycles is by providing an easy deployment mechanism. Once an application is designed and developed using the Cloud Foundry framework and services, deployment can be accomplished with a single command. The advantage of this approach can be easily understood when compared with application deployment in an IaaS environment, in which each application deployment requires installing and configuring system and application software packages.

 

While the advantages associated with pre-configured frameworks and fast deployments are widely appreciated, there is another aspect of Cloud Foundry that is less commonly understood: the deployment flexibility Cloud Foundry provides as part of its framework.

 

Since deployment of a Cloud Foundry application is little more than a single command, it is straightforward to support multiple deployment options and allow the final deployment decision to be made when the application is ready to be put into production. Moreover, an application that has been deployed in one environment can easily be retargeted to another environment without change.

 

This easy deployment choice allows organizations great flexibility in application development. For example, it is easy to provide an external development partner access to a sandboxed environment for initial application development and, once the application is finished, migrate it to a more secure operational environment for production use. Likewise, an application that is put into production in one data center can be migrated to another data center based on capacity needs, user population location, or cost.

 

A key benefit of Cloud Foundry is that it imposes little complexity on application deployment and great flexibility in choice of deployment environments. By leveraging an execution environment that is easily hosted in a wide variety of settings, users can develop applications secure in the knowledge that they are not restricted in deployment choice and can even change application deployment location well after initial application release.

 

Now that infrastructure is no longer the resource impediment it once was, it is now time for IT organizations to assess their application practices and evaluate how they can accelerate development and deployment. As organizations recognize that using a PaaS framework can extend the benefits received from IaaS cloud environments, we can expect to see increased enthusiasm and adoption of Cloud Foundry. 

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About the Author
Stephen Spector is a HP Cloud Evangelist promoting the OpenStack based clouds at HP for hybrid, public, and private clouds . He was previous...
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