There Goes The Neighborhood

Not too long after vmware’s Cloud Foundry made its pomp-and-circumstance debut, I was fortunate enough to be sitting down to (and paying for) an interesting dinner with several of the senior figures in the Cloud Foundry core team, including architectural head honcho Derek Collison and all round good guy Killian Murphy.

After a few aperitifs and a quick back-of-a-cigarette-packet chalk and talk around the general architecture of Cloud Foundry, the enterprise guy in me suddenly sparked in to life and asked the question that a thousand others had probably already poised…

“So, when will we get support for .NET ?”

It was a fairly obvious question to ask given my background and the incredibly well known fact that most large enterprises have an equally large amount of .NET based applications that they were (and are) not particularly ready to throw at Azure.

Obvious, maybe, but also vindicated, given the fact that I had already suggested to MS (and asked them for any indication of likelihood) that an on-premise version of their PaaS platform – not one that was hosted by someone else such as Fujitsu or Dell – might be a very good idea but had received nothing in return.

Ah well. C’est la vie.

With a welcome honesty, the gathered Cloud Foundry braintrust skillfully skirted around the question, but promised me that “we will definitely have it, but we’re not quite sure when”. I like Derek and Killian. A lot. Why would I not believe them….I was happy with that response.

Fast forward what seems like an eternity, but is actually not much more than 6 months, and within the space of 48 hours, we are treated to the arrival of the first two “.NET on top of Cloud Foundry” offerings in the form of IronFoundry.org and Uhuru.

Richard Seroter and my Cloudave brother Krish Subramanian wrote a great pieces here and here that respectively cover both offerings so I won’t waste pixel space going over old ground.

This is pretty big news for enterprise and pretty big news for Cloud Foundry. I firmly believe we’ve just seen the ante get upped in the enterprise PaaS space.

Of course, on / off premise .NET based PaaS services are not confined to just these two offerings. The folks over at Apprenda, led by the equally impressive Sinclair Schuller, are doing pretty cool stuff but there is something about the way the Cloud Foundry community is coming together and bearing fruit that is very appealing and interesting to watch – certainly compared to other ongoing community efforts that, even though they may have similar core goals, appear to be a breeding ground for a somewhat disappointing land grab.

Impressive is as impressive does and the most heartwarming element of IronFoundry.org is their (and presumably their alma mata Tier3’s) promise and called-out approach to returning all code to the community. As I’ve said a million times before, the ability for other vendors to take Open Source code, add proprietary pieces that are subsequently not community returned, then monetize that offering is a very alarming prospect and the antithesis of a joyful world of cloud where “stuff” can move around between platforms and providers.

As with most new things, the proof of the (Christmas) pudding is firmly in the eating so I took IronFoundry’s offering for a test drive by simply downloading the Umbraco CMS from Codeplex and pushing it to the IronFoundry service upon receipt of my credentials. Having done the vmc push dance before, it all felt incredibly familiar – if not entirely seamless yet – and within literally an hour or two, I’d worked through the kinks (thanks to Luke @ Tier3) and had the application running, connected to a MS SQL service as part of the offering.

If an ass-hat like me can make it work, we’re in pretty good shape overall.

As I sat and played with the CMS and tweaked the IronFoundry service here and there, the magnitude of where this is going and will eventually end up began to dawn on me. Here was I, ostensibly a boring infrastructure guy, actually doing application devops stuff. Wow. Devops. Yeah.

Yet perhaps the most chin-stroking moment I had was the fact that I was using a CMS, from a Microsoft sponsored open source repository, written using .NET on an open source service that is provided by a partner of their rapidly growing nemesis. And guess what ? If I choose to, I could take this same application and run it inside my own data center, in exactly the same way……just not on a platform or service that Microsoft themselves could provide.

Hmmm. Indeed. Well, there goes the neighborhood.

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4 thoughts on “There Goes The Neighborhood

  1. Awesome post. I have respect for new entrants in the .NET PaaS space and your experience seems like it went well, but the most important market takeaway for me is your closing commentary: “If I choose to, I could take this same application and run it inside my own data center”

    We have, for quite sometime now, been disenfranchised here at Apprenda with the notion that PaaS is a a service construct and nothing more. To see others in the market identify the same opportunity – that enterprises want a PaaS layer for their datacenter – is a powerful thing. When we first made Apprenda downloadable 18 months ago, it was amazing to see people materialize a PaaS on a cluster of dozens of servers in a matter of minutes. It’s the stuff the future of IT is made of, and I’m glad others recognize it as well.

  2. I am not quite optimistic about .NET in CF as you seem to be.

    My main counterargument is how many enterprises pick .NET as their main dev platform because of its quality or features or any other reason that is related to software engineering? They pick it because developers are easy to find and because of their established relationship with Microsoft.

    Why Microsoft would relinquish (or be willing to tolerate reduced) control of their bread-and-butter tech, albeit in new packaging (paas), is beyond me.

    Time will tell.

  3. Very nice info and straight to the point. I don’t know if this is actually the best place to ask but do you folks have any ideea where to get some professional writers? Thx

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