On Tuesday, ActiveState announced a partnership with Microsoft Azure that renders the Stackato Platform as a Service available on Azure. Built on Cloud Foundry, Stackato PaaS supports Docker and integrates with a multitude of third party products such as New Relic, Splunk and various database platforms. Stackato’s enterprise-grade PaaS platform enhances the operational agility of developers by delivering a pre-configured, polyglot application development stack based on the open source Cloud Foundry platform. Stackato’s enterprise-grade security and professional services offerings allows customers to leverage the benefits of an open source platform derived from the contributions of developers all over the world, in conjunction with enterprise-grade user management and security functionality. Moreover, Stackato’s support for Docker renders it ideal for the development of distributed applications marked by enhanced portability both at the level of individual and multiple containers. ActiveState’s partnership with Microsoft Azure marks a coup for Stackato given that it is now available on one of the industry’s most popular IaaS platforms. Conversely, Stackato’s availability on Microsoft Azure represents yet another feather in Azure’s cap and a differentiator from Amazon Web Services, which offers only one PaaS on its IaaS platform in the form of Elastic Beanstalk. Azure already features Apprenda as another enterprise-grade PaaS on its platform in a clear sign that it intends to continue to differentiate itself from AWS by supporting a wider range of vendors and third party partnerships. With Apprenda and ActiveState Stackato available on its platform, Azure stands poised to brand itself as the IaaS with the richest set of partnership offerings, particularly in the PaaS space where IaaS and PaaS partnerships continue to proliferate as evinced by the forthcoming availability of both ActiveState Stackato and Apprenda on the Cisco Intercloud Marketplace. Meanwhile, Stackato’s Cloud Foundry-based polyglot PaaS functionality and support for Docker renders it a leader in enterprise PaaS that promises to broaden its reach further by means of its collaboration with Azure.
Apprenda and Piston Cloud Computing have partnered to deliver a turnkey IaaS and PaaS that enables developers to create Java and .NET cloud-based applications. The integrated platform delivers “policy based access to OpenStack™ APIs” to enable Apprenda customers to expeditiously leverage OpenStack technologies. The partnership empowers Apprenda customers to take advantage of the simplicity of Piston’s platform for creating IaaS environments as the underlying infrastructure for their PaaS deployments. Conversely, Piston Customers can use Apprenda’s PaaS to create Java and .NET applications that reap the benefits of Apprenda’s enterprise-grade security and advanced functionality for the implementation of policies and procedures. Apprenda’s partnership with Piston builds upon a recent collaboration with Microsoft Azure that illustrates Apprenda’s strategy of teaming up with well known IaaS vendors as a means of gaining more market traction for its PaaS platform. Meanwhile, Piston customers may be surprised by its choice to partner with Apprenda given its close relationship with Cloud Foundry, but the collaboration clearly focuses on rendering Piston more available to Apprenda customers in contrast to prioritizing one PaaS platform over another. The partnership between Apprenda and Piston underscores the increasing co-implication of PaaS and IaaS within the cloud computing industry as PaaS players, in particular, attempt to seed their products on the infrastructures of IaaS vendors to enhance their market visibility and overall positioning.
CloudBees revealed plans to discontinue its Java Platfom as a Service and focus instead on delivering Jenkins, the continuous integration system, roughly a fortnight ago. As a result, CloudBees will terminate RUN@cloud, its Java PaaS and focus instead on enterprise-grade delivery of Jenkins, the continuous integration platform for software development that streamlines the development, deployment and ongoing operational management of software applications. The CloudBees portfolio now features three products: (1) Jenkins Enterprise, an on premise, enterprise-grade version of the open source continuous integration server; (2) Jenkins Operations, which enables customers to manage multiple deployments of Jenkins; and (3) Dev@cloud, a cloud-based version of the Jenkins platform. CloudBees will assist customers to transition to other PaaS platforms through October 31, 2014, a couple of months in advance of the planned December 2014 discontinuation of RUN@cloud. Meanwhile, CloudBees announced a partnership with Pivotal Software to deliver Jenkins Enterprise on the Pivotal Network by year’s end.
The decision by CloudBees to transition away from PaaS toward continuous integration speaks volumes about the state of the contemporary PaaS landscape, which wrestles with the technological threat posed by Docker, whose containers enable portability across application stacks and environments in ways that resemble the preconfigured environments of PaaS platforms. As former AppFog CEO Lucas Carlson points out, however, there are notable differences between Docker and PaaS, and another reason for increased competition in the PaaS space involves the prominence of Cloud Foundry, stewarded by Pivotal. The bottom line is that the PaaS space is experiencing an exciting and profound transformation whereby only the most nimble, visionary and strategic vendors are likely to survive as the market goes through a shakeout in the wake of a redefinition of the very concept of the “platform,” as Carlson notes in a blog post. Carlson’s polyglot PaaS AppFog was acquired by CenturyLink in June 2013.
dotCloud Platform as a Service has been acquired by cloudControl, a German Platform as a Service vendor that is expanding its presence in the U.S. market. Under the terms of the agreement, dotCloud will retain its name as well as the functionality of its existing PaaS technology in the near future. In Q4 of this year, cloudControl plans to integrate its PaaS technology with dotCloud such that customers can access a preview version of a new version of dotCloud in conjunction with the original platform. Starting in Q1 of 2015, cloudControl anticipates migrating customers to the newly enhanced “next generation” dotCloud PaaS platform so that by Q2 of 2015, all existing dotCloud customers will have transitioned to the new version. dotCloud’s acquisition by cloudControl promises to inject an infusion of engineering and marketing vision into a platform that had been ailing ever since dotCloud pivoted on its PaaS strategy by transforming itself into Docker in 2013.
Although dotCloud started with the promise specific to a polyglot PaaS in 2010, the company failed to grow as planned and pursued an alternative business model by open sourcing the container technology built for dotCloud that is now known as Docker. While Docker continued to own dotCloud’s technology, the dotCloud platform itself languished in the wake of the company’s incorporation as Docker. As such, dotCloud’s acquisition by cloudControl promises to bring a fresh wave of innovation and commitment to a platform that promised much in the early years of its existence, even though it failed to deliver. The bottom line is that cloudControl’s acquisition of dotCloud means that the U.S. platform as a service space should now expect a revitalized entrant to the polyglot PaaS space that is owned by a company with ample experience in the PaaS space already. That said, cloudControl will have its work cut out for itself in order to render dotCloud competitive in comparison to PaaS vendors such as ActiveState and Apprenda, for starters.
ActiveState today announced the release of Stackato 3.4, the polyglot platform as a service based on Cloud Foundry. Key features of the release include advanced version control functionality that allows customers to roll-back an application to a previous version with zero downtime. Version 3.4 also features enhanced audit controls that give administrators streamlined visibility regarding user access to the platform. Today’s release also contains enhancements to Stackato’s quota usage dashboard in conjunction with more granular application monitoring and management functionality. Moreover, Stackato 3.4 contains notable upgrades to its system upgrade functionality that facilitate upgrades from one version of the platform to another. Like all Stackato releases, Stackato 3.4 features an upstream merge with Cloud Foundry to ensure ongoing compatibility with Cloud Foundry code. Altogether, this release renders Stackato even more suitable for enterprise-grade platform as a service deployments by building upon Stackato 3.2’s enhancements related to security, scalability and ease of management as evinced by version 3.2’s introduction of single sign-on and auto-scaling.
As a hardened, enterprise-ready version of Cloud Foundry, Stackato 3.4’s simplicity and depth of PaaS functionality constitutes a refreshing alternative to the complexity implicit in deploying an IaaS infrastructure from scratch as illustrated by the emerging proliferation of managed cloud services for IaaS. Moreover, its broad range of support for languages and database platforms sets it apart from competing PaaS vendors such as Apprenda and Engine Yard that specialize in a more narrow subset of scripting languages and frameworks. In conjunction with today’s release, ActiveState will be offering users with a free license the ability to spin up a Stackato cluster with up to 20 GB of RAM that runs either on customer infrastructure or a public cloud. The industry should expect Stackato to continue gaining traction in the PaaS space and deepening its relationships with IaaS infrastructures such as the AWS Marketplace and the Citrix Marketplace that variously provide opportunities to extend the reach of the Stackato platform even further.
IBM recently announced the launch of its first BlueMix garage composed of a “physical location where developers, product managers and designers can collaborate with IBM experts” based in San Francisco’s “Galvanize” startup incubator and workspace located in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. The BlueMix garage will enable Galvanize developers to collaborate with BlueMix experts to determine how best to utilize BlueMix, the Cloud Foundry-based Platform as a Service to accelerate application development and integrate applications with cloud-based infrastructures. Densely populated by startups, investors and students, the Galvanize entrepreneurial community is expected to house more than 200 startups by the end of 2014. Jim Deters, co-founder and CEO of Galvanize, commented on the significance of the proximity of the first BlueMix Garage to the Galvanize community as follows:
Galvanize is a co-learning campus, providing digital startups with the industry-critical tools, mentoring and connections they need to learn, grow and launch. The inclusion of IBM’s first BlueMix Garage within the Galvanize community will equip our strong network of developers with the ability to competitively innovate apps with speed, using the power of cloud and open standards.
The partnership between Galvanize and IBM includes the addition of educational content about BlueMix to Galvanize coursework such as its developer training program. IBM’s launch of its first BlueMix garage coincides with its announcement of over 30 new services on the BlueMix platform focused around Cloud Integration, The Internet Of Things, Data and Analytics and DevOps. Since its inception in February, BlueMix has witnessed impressive traction marked by clients such as GameStop, Pitney Bowes and Continental Automotive. Michael Garel, CEO of EyeQ, another of BlueMix’s clients, noted that, “With BlueMix, we are able to reduce the amount of time spent on monthly server maintenance by 85 percent, and turn our attentions back to greater innovation.” The garage in San Francisco is expected to be fully operational in June with an emphasis on providing mentorship focused on agile application development and deployment in the context of cloud-based infrastructures.
The launch of IBM’s first BlueMix garage represents a highly original, bold attempt to render its Cloud Foundry-based PaaS more amenable to the developer community both as a means of increasing its adoption as well as obtaining feedback on its platform in order to accelerate product development. BlueMix is also available on IBM’s recently launched cloud marketplace, along with 100 SaaS applications and the SoftLayer IaaS platform. The larger point here is that IBM is pushing its cloud strategy on multiple fronts by making an aggressive push into the PaaS space with a platform built on the Cloud Foundry infrastructure. The launch of its first BlueMix garage constitutes a “high-touch” attempt to woo developers in Silicon Valley’s startup community that illustrates the seriousness of Big Blue’s interest in the cloud as part of its overall business strategy. Given IDC’s recent survey that claims U.S. companies ranked IBM #1 as a cloud computing provider over Google, Microsoft and Amazon, which placed 5th, 6th and 7th, respectively, IBM’s cloud strategy appears to be bearing fruit, although Big Blue is set to receive stiff competition from the likes of Microsoft, Google and Amazon as the battle for cloud market share matures.