Andy Oram at O’Reilly Radar does a much better job of explaining not only what the announcement of CloudFoundry is about, but fills in some critical background. I clearly have been thinking that infrastructure as a service is interchangeable with platform as a service. OpenStack, which I mentioned, falls into the infrastructure space providing
an emulation of bare metal where you run an appliance (which you may need to build up yourself) combining an operating system, application, and related services such as DNS, firewall, and a database.
VMWare’s existing offers already fit into this space as does AWS. As he points out, the platform space is far less standardized, so CloudFoundry could help catalyze better portability between providers who offer support for different frameworks, like some of the ones mentioned in the announcement (e.g. Spring, Node.js).
CloudFoundry is not directly comparable to the minimal emulation offerings from the likes of OpenStack and Amazon but rather is more comparable to Google App Engine though apparently more committed to offering frameworks as is rather than versions tweaked to work with unusual or non-standard components, like Google’s Big Table. The promise in supporting existing components as is lies in fostering the same sort of portability that has been improving in the infrastructure space.
Oram’s piece doesn’t clarify where and how CloudFoundry will be open beyond offering support on day one for any number of open source platform pieces. All the same, if you’ve been struggling to make sense of the not entirely clear terminology, his post is well worth a read.
What VMware’s Cloud Foundry announcement is about, O’Reilly Radar