UPDATED 13:50 EDT / JULY 24 2013


Cloud Foundry Cements IBM & EMC’s Commitment to Open Source #IBMPivotal

IBM and Pivotal, the EMC spin-off, just announced a groundbreaking new alliance to develop the Cloud Foundry Platform – an open platform-as-a-service that presents a choice of clouds, developer frameworks and application services.

The pair have also began collaborating on the technology needed to enable programming languages or frameworks to be deployed on the Cloud Foundry platform.  IBM has so far previewed its WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core, a lightweight version of the WebSphere Application Server, running on Cloud Foundry.

A Cloud Foundry Community Event has been scheduled for September 8-9, 2013 in Santa Clara, CA., which will highlight presentations by the thought leaders behind Cloud Foundry, as well as companies using the platform to build a new class of dynamic, agile, elastic, and intelligent application platform.

The announcement is an important one, but not so unexpected given the recent moves made by IBM and EMC in the open source community.

Open-Source’s New Kids on the Block


In March, Big Blue announced it’s decision to embrace OpenStack, the open source cloud computing project that’s been backed by numerous major players the industry.  Though IBM is known to be one of the chief practitioners of the so-called lock-in strategy, Angel Diaz, IBM’s vice president for software standards, open source and high-performance computing, believes that focusing on open source will have real scale and impact in the cloud.

Wikibon co-founder Dave Vellante pointed out during the IBM Edge conference last June that IBM is taking an open-source approach to software-defined storage, adding that there’s three reasons why Big Blue has chosen to follow this route:

1. IBM is in it for the long-run.

2. Management knows that it needs to collaborate with the open-source community to achieve its goals.

3. The company is looking to leverage its foothold in the Linux ecosystem.

Also at IBM Edge, Wikibon Senior Analyst Stu Miniman pointed out that the company isn’t just talking about open source, it’s also committing substantial resources. Moreover, IBM already has a wealth of experience in open source, offering good software and services that bring the whole solution together.

As Randy Arsenault, Platform Strategy Consultant at IBM, pointed out, “no single vendor is in the position to provide everything the industry demands on their own.”

In other words, there’s not one vendor that’ll be able to provide the robust set of services needed by the industry all by itself. Collaborative approaches are needed to evolve.

“We are going to see a lot of acceleration toward the more open, more industry-lead evolution,” adds Arsenault.


EMC might be new to the open source community but it doesn’t mean that it’s holding out on its efforts.  In December of last year, it came out and announced its support for OpenStack, becoming a corporate sponsor in the process.  That effort was quickly followed by the release of its software-defined solution, ViPR Object Data Services, which is able to integrate with OpenStack via Swift, allowing it to be run against any enterprise or commodity storage.

EMC’s federation of companies are all working together to build a cohesive set of tools to create data centers for its clients.  With that in mind, Wikibon co-founder and CTO David Floyer named Isilon storage a “key component” to EMC’s scale-out cloud storage architecture.  EMC’s goal is  to support a broad range of cloud and Big Data solutions, including its own products, competing offerings and open-source frameworks.  Isilon also supports the latest release of Syncplicity, which allows organizations to manage data across both private and public clouds. Floyer believes that this new functionality can help internal IT departments match the quality of services offered by solutions such as Box and Citrix FileShare.  Later at EMC World 2013, the company revealed that it had extended the integration of Isilon to Hadoop 2.0 and Greenplum’s Pivotal HD distribution.

At the GE Industrial Internet event, Wikibon’s Dave Vellante stated that while GE and EMC, one of the main backers of Pivotal, do not have much of a track record when it comes to open source, Pivotal will almost certainly become a prominent open-source contributor within five years. In addition, Vellante said that he’s expecting Red Hat to secure a leadership position in the Hadoop market.


All of this points to a very successful partnership in the offing for IBM and EMC/Pivotal. Neither entity has focused too heavily on open-source in the past, but their recent moves show just how seriously they’re thinking about the space now.

Equally important is that IBM and EMC are no strangers to one another – Cloud Foundry isn’t the first initiative they’ve collaborated on.  The two firms already have an existing technology licensing agreement, extended last year until 2017, for interoperability with the IBM i integrated operating environment for IBM Power Systems.  The agreement allows the two to jointly develop storage interoperability interfaces and technical support so that IBM i customers will have the choice, flexibility and support to deploy a combination of EMC storage with IBM Power Systems technologies.

EMC’s D910 interface was also announced last year, a solution that was jointly developed with and supported by IBM.

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