Three news from three different vendors came out today but they are interconnected with one another. More interestingly, this has the potential to redefine PaaS landscape empowering the end users by helping them avoid infrastructure lock-in. AppFog and Apprenda have announced interoperability with Windows Azure which itself is undergoing a revamp (you can learn more about it in the webcast tomorrow). There are two key elements to the news coming out from these three vendors:
- The need to avoid infrastructure lock-in is becoming important
- Microsoft’s eagerness to reach out to more developers, especially on the open source side
First the news
AppFog (previous CloudAve coverage) today announced that they are partnering with Microsoft to allow interoperability between AppFog platform and Windows Azure. With this AppFog will provide developers with the full power of Windows Azure’s PHP, Node.js, and .NET support for both on-premise and public cloud technologies. AppFog has developed technology that allows developers to seamlessly migrate their applications between other cloud providers into the Azure platform with no code changes, eliminating the concern of vendor lock-in.
Apprenda (previous CloudAve coverage) today announced Apprenda Azure, providing enterprises with a hybrid cloud solution for .NET. With Apprenda Azure, enterprises will now be able to achieve complete symmetry between their on-premise Windows infrastructure/private cloud and Windows Azure. With this Apprenda moves from being a private PaaS player to a hybrid player.
Now some analysis
On AppFog: AppFog’s announcement is brilliant in many ways. Let me briefly highlight some of them below:
- AppFog has been supporting multiple infrastructure providers for a long time and, with this move, they add Windows Azure to the list.
- AppFog offers developers a familiar CloudFoundry API while their abstraction layer talks to native Azure API in the background. This is pretty significant from the CloudFoundry point of view. It not only has the potential to make CloudFoundry the de-facto standard, it will also give lots of legitimacy to AppFog should they fork CloudFoundy in the future. There are many nuances involved with this angle but I will keep it for a future post.
- Unlike IronFoundry and Uhuru, AppFog now offers native .NET support with a CloudFoundry interface. It will be interesting to see which approach gains traction in the future.
- The most interesting aspect of their abstraction layer is that it can be extended to other PaaS offerings beyond Windows Azure. For example, they could do the same with Force.com or any other platform as a service.
On Apprenda: Apprenda’s has carved a niche in the .NET PaaS space and this move gives them an opportunity to compete harder as enterprises want to go beyond their own data centers. I have my own opinions on the single language and polyglot debate but, in today’s IT, there is a strong need for the single language approach and Apprenda has taken a lead over even Microsoft in the private and hybrid cloud segment. Apprenda’s platform is also built to run on multiple infrastructures. For example, they could easily support AWS Windows instances in the future if there is a demand in the industry.
On Microsoft: Even though Microsoft supports non .NET languages like PHP, Ruby, etc., they have had difficulty in convincing open source developers and Youtube generation of developers. By partnering with AppFog and letting the developers interact through the CloudFoundry interface, which has seen large scale adoption in the last year, Microsoft is making Azure more palatable to these developers. In the post about Youtube generation of developers, I had called upon Microsoft to drop the openness mantra and, instead, talk about the interoperability between open source and proprietary platforms. With this move, Microsoft is adopting this approach to lure these developers and I think this has a better chance of succeeding than the previous openness approach. Both the AppFog news and Apprenda news highlight the fact that Microsoft is willing to play nice with the ecosystem players who are also their competitors.
Next week my firm, Rishidot Research, is running an enterprise PaaS event called DeployCon 2012 and the opening keynote is by Mike Hoskins, GM, Big Data and CTO of Pervasive Software (previous CloudAve coverage). In his keynote, Mike is going to argue that the future of PaaS is vendor neutral. Today’s announcement by AppFog and Apprenda is an indicator of this trend. Gone are the days of locking in customers through proprietary means. The future is open and the term “open” includes “opening up of proprietary services through interoperability”. Welcome to a new era where end users are respected and empowered. Today’s announcements are the first step towards this trend.
Disclosure: Both AppFog and Apprenda are sponsors of DeployCon 2012. If you want a free pass to this event, click here.