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CenturyLink grabs AppFog for cloud expansion

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In a "resounding validation" of the Cloud Foundry technology, CenturyLink has acquired platform-as-a-service minnow AppFog.

The acquisition was announced on Friday and will see AppFog's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) get added to CenturyLink's suite of Savvis Cloud products, as the companies try to glue two disparate technologies together for greater relevance among enterprises.

A PaaS is a cloudy runtime environment that automates the middleware and infrastructure, letting developers write an app then run it on a scalable underlay. Unlike other major PaaS's – Heroku, EngineYard, Elastic BeanStalk, Google App Engine – AppFog is built around Cloud Foundry, an ambitious open source tech that aims to do for large masses of infrastructure what virtualized app containers did for servers.

"This is a resounding validation for Cloud Foundry," AppFog chief Lucas Carlson told The Register on Friday.

AppFog will immediately begin integrating its tech with Savvis's VMware-friendly cloud infrastructure, which currently runs across eight facilities worldwide with two more being built out.

Though both CenturyLink and AppFog are portraying the buy as a wonderful opportunity for the companies to get together and fluff up the Savvis cloud, we on El Reg's cloud-watching desk have a hard time seeing the significance.

AppFog went through a major round of layoffs last year that saw the company go from "a little over 30 employees" down to 13, AppFog chief Lucas Carlson confirmed to The Register.

The CloudFoundry-based platform-as-a-service originally started by piggybacking on major public clouds and offering developers an automated, managed environment for running apps. During 2012 and 2013, the company's strategy shifted to focus on running its software behind corporate firewalls.

"We added the private cloud approach and we had a lot of success with that, but [layoffs] became one of the business decisions we had to make," Carlson tells us.

As part of this shift, the company was also forced to stop supporting the Rackspace cloud in April because offering it was "resource intensive", according to an email circulated to customers and seen by The Register.

"The biggest untapped opportunity in the cloud – the real revenue generator – it's not public cloud. It is all of the spend happening behind the firewall, no matter how many times Amazon and Google say it's all going away in three years," Carlson says. "What I plan to do with CenturyLink is really drive cloud to the existing infrastructures that have been underserved."

Financial terms of the acqusition were not disclosed. From what we can tell, CenturyLink will be giving AppFog the resources it needs to hire more engineers, and both companies' sales bods will be pushing the private PaaS cloud tech hard – although this environment is dominated by major enterprises such as Microsoft via Azure and System Center, and VMware. ®

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