Standardization makes markets grow. The world of mobile phones was massively accelerated by GSM, the world of WiFi by 802.11x. Standards also reduce the cost and barrier to entry into a market, giving a more level playing field and helping drive industrialization. Java did this to application development. Standards don’t have to be formal efforts, Hadoop has become the standard for Big Data based on a distribution, Linux the Unix standard via a similar route.
So standardization is a good thing, it helps markets to grow more rapidly, reduces costs and helps drive vendor co-operation and reduce lock-in. What standardization needs to succeed however is broad commitment, its no good having a good standard that isn’t adopted. At Capgemini we’ve been a strong supporter over the years of multiple standard efforts, we’ve worked within Open Group on TOGAF, within OASIS on SOA, Web Service and Security, within the Java Community Process and multiple others such as the recent efforts around airport Straight Through Travel. Standards have repeatedly been central in helping markets develop in cost effective ways.
It’s for this reason that we’ve joined the Cloud Foundry Community initiative, something that I see as a ‘Java moment for the cloud’. Back in the 90s every company had their own programming language, most normally these were operating specific, and sometimes processor specific. The cost of maintaining all of these different languages and the lock-in they generated to specific hardware platforms increased support complexity, and thus costs, decreased flexibility and ensured long cycles of updates and improvements.
Then along came Java, a language developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems, which rapidly became the default language for developing the new world of internet applications. The reason it became that default is because IBM, SAP, Oracle and many others decided to standardize on it, extensions to Java such as Spring and Java Enterprise Edition extended the reach beyond just websites and into enterprise work loads. This reduced support and development costs, massively increased the available talent pool and significantly increased the flexibility and choice that a business had.
The world has moved on from the 90s however, now the challenge isn’t simply about writing better code, it’s about how to deploy, manage and, scale the whole application, seamlessly and with minimal interaction and at a pace that matches the business need rather than an IT constraint.
It’s about having the choice about what platform that gets deployed on, be that IBM’s Softlayer, AWS, Rackspace, VMware running a private cloud or on a developers laptop.
It’s about how new resources can be provisioned to scale the application and how it interoperates with other pieces in the enterprise estate and most crucially how it moves through the various stages of its lifecycle without requiring significant amounts of manual intervention.
This is what Cloud Foundry aims to do, to provide an agnostic platform and to automate tasks that add no value to an organization. This goal of increasing agility and portability at the application, not the code, level changes the game when it comes to Cloud and PaaS.
Through our relationship with Pivotal we have been actively working on Cloud Foundry but it was the creation of the Cloud Foundry community and the arrival of other strategic Capgemini partners such as SAP, IBM, HP, Intel, EMC and VMware that really changed my perception from it being a great single vendor technology to a new industry wide initiative.
I see PaaS as being the default development and deployment model for enterprises in the near future and what the Cloud Foundry community is creating is genuine choice. Not choice between lock-in strategies but a new standard for Platform as a Service where multiple vendors compete around a common core which delivers that standardization and industrialization which helps to grow the market while decreasing the costs.
I hope that Cloud Foundry will do for PaaS what Hadoop has done for Big Data and what Java did for Application development: becomes the standard that multiple companies adopt, creating a vibrant and competitive marketplace where companies can get greater agility without the fear of vendor lock-in. Ultimately that is what will help accelerate the PaaS market, which is what the customer I talk to want to see and we’ve joined the Cloud Foundry community to help make sure that happens.