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VMware turns shrink ray on open source dev cloud

A really tiny Google mimic for your laptop

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VMware has created a really tiny version of its open source developer cloud.

On Wednesday, the virtualization giant introduced Micro Cloud Foundry, a free downloadable version of its Cloud Foundry service that runs on a single laptop. This past spring, when VMware unveiled Cloud Foundry and open sourced the code behind it, the company indicated it would eventually offer a shrunken incarnation that would allow developers to test applications on their local machines.

Reminiscent of Google App Engine or Microsoft Azure, Cloud Foundry is an online service for building, deploying, and readily scaling applications built with Java, other JVM frameworks, Ruby on Rails, Sinatra, or Node.js, and in open sourcing the platform, VMware hopes to spawn an army of compatible "platform clouds". Unlike an infrastructure cloud a la Amazon EC2, a platform cloud separates you from raw computing resources. You code to a set of APIs, and the service does the rest.

The platform is meant to mimic Google's approach to online app deployment.

To create a Cloud Foundry application, you need either VMware's open source client – which will soon be bundled with Ubuntu – or an existing IDE such as Eclipse running on your local system. From there, you can deploy your app to the Cloud Foundry mothership or any other compatible service – at least in theory. But with Micro Cloud Foundry, you also have the option of running your app locally.

"As a developer, you can build and deploy a complete application locally, without installing and configuring databases or middleware," says VMware spokesman Dave McJannet. "Then, when it's ready, you can deploy it to CloudFoundry.com or some other provider."

In essence, Micro Cloud Foundry is a single instance of VMware's server component that can run on a local virtual machine. This downloadable VM image requires a separate installation of either VMware Fusion for the Mac or VMware Workstation and VMware Player for Linux and Windows, but it includes the core application services for the MySQL, Redis, and MongoDB databases, mirroring the Cloud Foundry mothership. It does not yet include the RabbitMQ messaging services, but McJannet said this will come later. He indicated that VMware will offer a new version of its very tiny cloud about eight times a year.

Yes, you could already download the Cloud Foundry server component and run it on a local virtual machine, but the Micro offering is meant to make the process easier. It's free, but it does require an account with CloudFoundry.com.

VMware will not reveal how many developers are using CloudFoundry.com, but McJannet says the count is doubling every two months and that the number of applications is tripling over the same time period. ®

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