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Piston links with Cloud Foundry, forges CYBORG CLOUD

Pivotal's PaaS wired into OpenStack IaaS

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OpenStack company Piston is donating hardware and developer expertise to the Cloud Foundry community, as the infrastructure-as-a-service specialist seeks tighter ties with VMware-spinoff Pivotal's grand platform cloud.

The partnership will see Piston become the community infrastructure provider for Cloud Foundry, which means it will run a cyborg-like IT stack that combines the OpenStack IaaS with the Cloud Foundry PaaS. This cyborg cloud will be used by the Cloud Foundry technical community for testing, development, and continuous integration. The tie-up was announced on Thursday.

"There's a fair amount of work to make sure an IaaS and a PaaS like Cloud Foundry that automates itself through APIs all flows together very well," James Watters, the head of product, marketing, and ecosystem for Cloud Foundry at VMware-spinoff Pivotal, tells The Register. The partnership means "every hour of every day Cloud Foundry gets tested on Piston", Watters says.

Cloud Foundry is an open source platform cloud that is designed to work on public and private data center infrastructure. It supports Java, Spring, Ruby, and Node.js, and has built-in support for RabbitMQ, PostgreSQL, MySQL, redis, and MongoDB.

Though Cloud Foundry bills itself as a tool that lets developers "build, test, deploy, and scale applications without worrying about the infrastructure layer," Piston's chief technology officer Joshua McKenty told The Reg that this isn't entirely the case, as the company has had to do some work to get the two systems to talk to each other consistently.

"We actually did most of the work to make sure Cloud Foundry could run on OpenStack last year," McKenty says. "It's not a tremendously complicated API, but it is important that it's consistent and reliable. One of the things we've really focused on with Piston OpenStack is making sure the services are highly available, so as you scale up the scope of the Cloud Foundry environment on top, the IaaS environment can handle it."

Though the pairing looks to be handy for organizations keen to blend IaaS and PaaS, the number of companies actually doing this level of cloud work is fairly small. For the past few years much of the growth in the cloud market has been in low-level IaaS services on platforms such as Amazon Web Services and – more recently – Google Compute Engine and Microsoft Azure.

But there are signs that this is changing, as a wave of acquisitions and partnerships has recently swept through the platform ecosystem, such as Savvis CenturyLink's acquisition of AppFog, IBM pouring WebSphere tech into Cloud Foundry, and Red Hat announcing the general availability of its own OpenShift PaaS.

So Piston is hoping its micro-IaaS/PaaS stack will help goose development of the Cloud Foundry technology, in the same way similar community infrastructure schemes such as TryStack have helped broaden OpenStack use. In doing so, this should bring customers to both Piston and Pivotal.

How many customers remains to be seen, as Cloud Foundry is relatively young, and though organizations may fancy gaining the capabilities of its platform cloud, the installation and management of one can still be tricky.

For this reason, the love-in between Piston and Pivotal can be seen as early fumble in what may become a larger, more enthusiastic embrace. "If you're going to accept contributions from a diverse community, you have to have robust test infrastructure – it's the engine of the open source vehicle," McKenty says. ®

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