VMware disrupts with open source PaaS play

Yesterday I attended VMware’s Cloud Foundry announcements. More on those announcements over at Techmeme. If you’re a developer it’ll be hard to miss what VMware’s doing here. It’s very significant and means a lot to a group of companies, from Amazon, Google, Microsoft on one side and Rackspace and Salesforce on another. We’re all trying to figure out what it means for us, because they now are hosting apps (new competition for Rackspace, which is where I work!)

I’m excited by what VMware’s doing. Why? Because it’s open source. Listen to VMware co-president Tod Nielsen, who tells me what it means.

Yes, we’re seeing new competiton, but we expected that when we released our cloud stack to open source (we knew we were empowering our competitors with our own code. How scary!) So, how will Rackspace compete? On service. See, most companies don’t have geeks who know what node.js is. They’ll need a partner to help them get their businesses online and up to date. The hosting and app platforms are quickly turning into commodities so service is one of the areas that will really matter.

Thanks to VMware for inviting me over yesterday, quite interesting announcements!

The rest of this article is reprinted with permission from Rackspace’s Building43:

This week, VMware introduced a major new PaaS called Cloud Foundry. The project is available as open source software, and it provides a platform for building, deploying and running cloud apps.

“The value proposition for Cloud Foundry is it’s the first real open PaaS, or platform as a service,” explains Tod Nielsen, Co-President of the Application Platform Group at VMware. “And by open we mean we’re going to support multiple frameworks—be it Ruby, Java, Node.js—we’re going to support a whole set of services as well as any cloud. By any cloud, we’re actually going to offer to host a service ourselves, we’re going to work with folks like Rackspace and allow you to offer Cloud Foundry as a service that you’ll provide, and there’ll be a behind the firewall version that enterprises can run in their private cloud. Then we have something we call the Micro Cloud, which instantiates Cloud Foundry onto your lap top so developers can write code themselves, and then they can push to whichever cloud option they choose.”

Because the project is open source, it does not restrict developer choices of frameworks, application infrastructure services and deployment clouds. “The challenge with the cloud today…” says Nielsen, “is it feels like the Hotel California—you get into one cloud and then you get trapped and you can’t get out. If the industry is really going to let this paradigm take it to the next level, it’s got to be open. It’s got to provide the flexibility and freedom for developers and corporations to deploy where they want and when they want and move things around as necessary.”

Cloud Foundry aims to allow developers to remove the cost and complexity of configuring infrastructure and runtime environments for their applications and focus on the application logic.

“One of the things that developers complain about today,” explains Nielsen, “is if they’re in a corporation, to actually get an application deployed requires all kinds of work to provision a server, provision a database, provision middleware, make sure it’s all set up, coordinate with the operations team and write IT tickets. We had one developer say, ‘it’s like I spend all my time writing IT tickets’. The value proposition for Cloud Foundry is we want to help you write code, not tickets.”

More info:

Cloud Foundry web site: http://www.cloudfoundry.com/
Cloud Foundry blog: http://blog.cloudfoundry.com/
Cloud Foundry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/cloudfoundry


The most important new protocol since RSS: AirPlay (three cool new apps that use it to change how we view TV)


I still remember when Dave Winer showed me RSS and what it did. It changed my life and continues to, even after we switched much of our reading behavior to Twitter (a new iPad app is coming on Friday that uses RSS, more about that when the embargo ends).

But since RSS has there been a new protocol that’s changed our lives in a big way? I haven’t seen one until Apple announced AirPlay.

What is AirPlay? It lets you play video instantly and wirelessly from your iPhone or iPad to your big-screen TV which has an Apple TV attached. I had my nephew, Kian, video me in my family room where I show you what it does.

Yes, you can already recognize the downside to this new protocol: it was developed by Apple and isn’t yet available on other devices or to developers who might, um, want to put it on Android devices.

I can see why Apple might want to keep it for itself. It’s a killer feature. Reading on Wikipedia you’d learn that the protocol lets you wirelessly stream audio, video, and photos.

But it wasn’t until the past week that we’ve seen iPad apps that really use it. In my tests with three of these apps I’ve found that they completely change my TV viewing patterns.

Here’s why.

In old-school YouTube viewing I’d watch a video on a laptop, or on my iPad, but if I wanted to show it to the whole room, say, to my wife or my sons, I’d have to get off the couch, find the remote for either my Apple TV, or a controller for my Xbox, and figure out how to browse to what I was viewing. Lots of times it was way too frustrating to find what I was viewing on the iPad that I’d just give up.

Here, try it yourself. Go watch a video on ted.com and then try to watch that same video on an Xbox, Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, PlayStation, or Wii. I have most of those devices in my family room and they are just nearly impossible to use.

It gets worse when you have your own video that you shot on your iPhone or iPad. I hate having to hand my iPad around just to show people something cute my kids did or the BBQ place we visited at SXSW.

No longer.

Now I just click a new AirPlay icon on these new apps and BOOM it starts playing on my big screen TV.

Anyway, the three apps that I’ve been using in the past month that have changed my viewing habits quite radically are:

1. TED iPad app. I love watching TED videos and since these are usually about 18 minutes each (some shorter) I like watching them on my big screen so that I can tweet on my iPad while learning from these great speakers.

2. Squrl. Squrl lets me watch lots of videos, especially from YouTube and other places, and I can curate those videos into pages. Much of the videos here are playable via AirPlay. I thought the Netflix and Hulu ones would be, but they are giving me an error, I’ll try to find out. I did an extensive video with the founder that you should watch.

3. ShowYou (just released, I have an exclusive first look and interview with Mark Hall, CEO).

After watching the video you can read more on the ShowYou blog and it’s available on iTunes now, visit the ShowYou site to get a link to it.

You can follow me on each service, I use the username “Scobleizer” on all of them.

Anyway, this is how Apple will be very successful with the Apple TV and shows you how they are going to continue to monetize long into the future.

Welcome to the “Age of AirPlay.”