An open platform for cloud apps

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, innovative tools are continually being delivered in the form of new cloud-based applications, or apps. These apps enrich our jobs and our lives by making tasks easier, content more convenient, entertainment more enjoyable and transactions more seamless.

From an enterprise app that lets you look up a colleague by voice command – providing their bio, reporting chain and contact information integrated with your phone and address book – to an ecommerce app that recognizes your location and offers a suite of local deals on products that can be delivered same-day. Applications are changing the way we live and work.

Having worked with a fair number of our more than 9,000 cloud clients, I’ve seen firsthand the increasing appetite for cloud-based web, mobile, social and analytics applications from line-of-business executives and CIOs. But firms need a better way create, deploy and scale their cloud apps faster and with greater ease.

To achieve even greater and more rapid levels of innovation that our customers need, we need an open Platform as a Service (PaaS) to complement our open Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), OpenStack.

That’s why IBM announced last week that it will join Pivotal and the others in the Cloud Foundry community and ecosystem; putting its full support behind the development of the Cloud Foundry™ platform, and will work with Pivotal and the community to establish an open governance model for the project. Cloud Foundry is an interoperable Platform-as-a-Service framework that allows developers to have freedom of choice across cloud infrastructure and application programming models, and cloud applications.

The open Cloud Foundry platform enables clients to rapidly build, deploy and manage cloud applications in a more agile and more scalable manner. For example, a global restaurant chain could quickly create an app that helps diners take advantage of a current Restaurant Week special in certain markets, syncing seamlessly with a separate table reservations app built on a different cloud infrastructure.

As further evidence of the ravenous demand for these new innovative apps, enabled by an open platform like Cloud Foundry; IBM holds periodic Hack Days, to explore various emerging technologies, to both help educate our engineers, to get feedback from developers, and to help foster innovation. We opened up our emerging Cloud Foundry environment to IBMers for a recent Hack Day, and the response was incredible! The appetite to learn about this new class of apps was so overwhelming, and the environment performed so well, that we decided to leave it open to help with our on-going testing. We now have almost 1,000 IBMers who have deployed over 1,200 apps into our staging environment. The number of IBMers and new apps continues to grow by the day. People are working on their own time to continue the hack-a-thon and to give us constant feedback on our progress. Based on what they are telling us, we are clearly on the right path.

While IBM’s support for Cloud Foundry is new and exciting for the cloud app market, we really see this as part of long term, industry wide shift towards open computing platforms. This is the next wave of the open cloud, building upon the work we’ve done with OpenStack around cloud infrastructure. The work is just beginning as we aim to grow a community around the cloud platform with Cloud Foundry, working with Cloud Foundry’s creator, Pivotal, towards establishing an open governance model.

I’ll be posting here regularly, updating on the progress that we’re making towards our vision of an open cloud, and on the progress we are making in OpenStack, and now Cloud Foundry, and any other open initiatives relating to our open cloud architecture. I welcome your comments and questions, and look forward to continuing the discussion.

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