Last week, CloudFoundry project (previous CloudAve coverage) celebrated its first birthday and they made a few announcements that gave indications on their plans with the popular PaaS platform. Before I talk about it, I will briefly cover the news for the sake of completion. Some of the announcements that came out of the event include:
- They announced some new partners like Cloud9, Collabnet, Servicemesh, SOASTA and X.Commerce. Cloud9’s browser based IDE makes it pretty easy to develop and deploy code on CloudFoundry. I am wondering how it fits with VMware’s having Wavemaker in their backyard. Another interesting partner announcement is inclusion of SOASTA load testing inside CloudFoundry, giving one click option for developers to test their apps.
- Another interesting bit of information coming out of the event is that there are more non-VMware developers contributing to CloudFoundry than their own. This is interesting in many angles. More interestingly, CloudFoundry is now part of Github and forked left and right. This is something which some of the companies with open source DNA hasn’t done in their life.
- The most interesting announcement is the release of open source BOSH toolchain which is a great tool to manage release engineering, deployment and lifecycle of distributed cloud services. This is going to be the core for rest of my post.
In my opinion, VMware is showing some hints on their monetization strategy with CloudFoundry. Of course, VMware will have a freemium model once CloudFoundry.com goes to GA and they may even come up with an app store selling value added services like Heroku. But what they can get with these offerings is peanuts compared to the kind of money they are making on the infrastructure front. With BOSH, they are showing their hands on how they are planning to continue taking care of their financial bottom-line.
Before I talk about it, let us take a step back and see where VMware is today. In spite of the large virtualization marketshare and in spite of their continued “dominance” even after the onset of cloud computing, it was pretty obvious that they are on a slippery slope in the cloud world. With infrastructure reeling towards commoditization and action shifting to higher order services like PaaS, the pressure is on VMware to do something that will keep them strong in this cloudy era.
What VMware did was to release a PaaS offering, make it open source, commoditize the space and, then, hope to find a way to keep the game on the infrastructure level. When they released CloudFoundry, pundits were talking about how VMware can make money in the PaaS dominated future. I think with the release of BOSH, they have categorically informed the world that they are going to compete hard on the infrastructure space and try to keep their large marketshare intact. But VMware also understand that if they try to come up with a vCloud or vSphere tuned CloudFoundry distro, it is going to bring them bad karma both in terms of bad press and developer backlash. By releasing BOSH under an open source license, VMware made it clear that they are sticking to the open source philosophy (whether by choice or due to market pressure is a different discussion). Now they can tout the openness mantra, put out a very well optimized connector for VMware infrastructure and then call upon other infrastructure platforms to build connectors that offers similar seamless experience. With this, VMware can trust their powerful sales teams to go to enterprise customers and say that they can take advantage of PaaS while still continuing with the infrastructure they trust. It is a much easier task for their sales team to do than selling a new product in an entirely different market segment while competing with other vendors from scratch. Even though this could sound as a conspiracy theory, I think it is a plausible explanation to VMware strategy after looking at BOSH announcement.
I think VMware is still bullish on their infrastructure offerings and are hoping that their sales teams can sell enough of it to keep their dominance even as the action shifts to PaaS. Whether this strategy will work or not, it is too early to tell and it depends on what the OpenStacks and CloudStacks of the world do. It also depends on how good Microsoft sales teams are in selling Azure (if they ever go out in full force to sell Azure disrupting their STB). It is going to be interesting few years as the cloud market matures and players old and new try to get a slice of the pie.