Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cloud Foundry: Will it be better from existing PaaS?

Recently VMWare has launched Cloud Foundry, the world’s first open Platform as a Service (PaaS). Cloud Foundry is designed to help developers create applications within a "platform Cloud" or a "development Cloud."

As a developer you will be able to sign up and login and write code directly on a Spring or Rails environment. You can deploy your application on a Spring Source tcServer instance and make use of running database services like MySQL and MongoDB. For STS users, the easiest way to get started with Cloud Foundry plugin is by installing it into a pre-installed copy of Spring Source Tool Suite which can be found on the download page. For Eclipse users, Cloud Foundry plugin can quite easily be installed into plain Eclipse installations. To make sure that all dependencies can be satisfied during installation you should start installing the “Eclipse IDE for JEE Developers” package. This package can be downloaded from the Eclipse download page or from the Spring Source member distribution page.

Some benefits of Cloud Foundry might include:

· Multiple Frameworks – choices of programming models

Cloud Foundry provides a platform for building, deploying, and running cloud apps using Spring for Java developers. And support applications those are using spring framework for code wiring purpose or for resource configuration purpose, such as data source look up etc.

· Multiple Services- choices of services from VMware and third parties

o Cloud Foundry is open to multiple services including basic relational databases as well as broader choices like MongoDB, MySQL and Redis. Services provide data storage and other functions that can be leveraged by applications. Examples of additional service integrations will include VMware’s vFabric application services. The vFabric Cloud Application Platform includes open source Spring Development Framework as well as a set of application services including a lightweight application server, global data management, cloud-ready messaging, and application performance management capabilities.

· Multiple Clouds - choices of clouds for deployment

o Cloud Foundry provides choice of underlying deployment destinations including a public cloud service at Cloud Foundry. Cloud Foundry make this framework available as downloadable instance to run on other cloud providers like Amazon EC2, and other IaaS offerings technologies like Eucalyptus or OpenStack.

· Developers can deploy their applications to Cloud Foundry using their existing tools and with zero modification to their code.

· As any PaaS, Cloud Foundry allows developers to focus on applications, not machines or middleware.

· Most PaaS offerings restrict developer choices of frameworks, application infrastructure services and deployment clouds. The open and extensible nature of Cloud Foundry means developers will not be locked into a single framework, single set of application services or a single cloud.

Cloud Foundry supports:

· Rails and Sinatra for Ruby developers.

· Node.js which is an event-driven I/O framework for V8 java script engine on Unix-like platforms.

· JVM frameworks including Grails.

· JVM languages such as Clojure and Scala.

Cloud Foundry Architecture

Application execution engine is one of the core building blocks of Cloud Foundry Architecture. It’s an agent that runs on each node that actually runs the application. It acts as an automation engine for application deployment and lifecycle management. Also includes scriptable command line interface (CLI) that provides access to VMWare cloud application platform. Integration with development tools such as Spring Source Tool Suite(STS), Grails and Spring Roo for development. These tools utilize the Cloud Foundry client web services API and Spring Source artifact repositories to deploy applications under Cloud Foundry.

The pieces that make up Cloud Foundry architecture are:

· At the core the Application Execution Engine is the piece that runs your application. It’s what launches and manages the Rails, Java, and other language app servers. As your application is scaled up, application engine will launch an application server with deployed code. It can be launched on any suitably configured server, which then connects to the other servers in the PaaS and starts running user applications (the application execution engines can be configured to run a single application per server or multiple).

· The Request Router is the front door to the PaaS: it accepts all the HTTP requests for all the applications running in the PaaS and routes them to the best app execution engine that runs the appropriate application code. In essence the request router is a load balancer that knows about which application is running where.

· The Cloud Controller implements the external API used by tools to load/unload applications and control their environment, including the number of application execution engines that should run each application. As part of taking in new applications it creates the bundles that application execution engines load to run an application. One aspect of the cloud controller is that it is relatively policy-free, meaning that it relies on external input to perform operations such as scaling how many application execution engines each application uses. This allows different management policies to be plugged-in.

· A set of Services which provide data storage and other functions that can be leveraged by applications. Each service tends to consist of two parts: the application implementing the service itself (e.g. MySQL, MongoDB, Redis) and a Cloud Foundry management layer that establishes the connections between applications and the service itself.

· A Health Manager responsible for keeping applications alive and ensuring that if an application execution engine crashes the applications it ran are restarted elsewhere.

The following diagram summarizes the basic idea behind Cloud Foundry:

Developer Frameworks

Cloud Foundry Supports multiple framework like Spring for Java, Rails and Sinatra for Ruby, and Node.js. There is also support for Grails on Groovy and other JVM-based frameworks.

Application Services

Application Services allow developers to take advantage of data, messaging, and web services as building blocks for their applications. For Data Service, Cloud Foundry currently offers support for MySQL, MongoDB and Redis with other service integrations underway. For Messaging service, they will offer their own Rabbit MQ and other messaging services. Examples of additional service integrations will include VMware’s vFabric application services.

Initially they are going to provide multiple services provided by VMWare itself, and eventually, open it up to the ecosystem for third-parties (similar to Heroku Add-Ons or AppExchange)


Public, Private, VMware based and non-VMware based it up to the developer and organization as to where they want to run Cloud Foundry.

Finally, you'll notice there is reference to a "Downloadable 'Micro Cloud'". Micro Cloud is a single developer instance of Cloud Foundry. It provides developers with a personal PaaS that runs on their desktop. Micro Cloud is provided as a downloadable software image for VMware Fusion or VMware Player, as well a hosted image on selected cloud partners like you can run on an(e.g. Amazon Machine Image). The idea behind the Micro Cloud is to appeal mostly to developers and let them easily do development in any physical location, as well as easily load their app to a Cloud Foundry cloud when they are ready.

Cloud Foundry’s code is open source at github under the Apache 2 License.

I think it has potential to compete with other cloud providers. What do you think? Does Cloud Foundry have the potential to compete with likes of Google AppEngine or Amazon EC2?


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  2. Hey nice effort.

    I also tried to explain cloud foundary in simple terms. Check here

  3. Saw your Article...good introduction...Also thanks for nice comments...

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