A quick intro to the cloud. In the beginning, there was no cloud and all software was on-premises and infrastructure sat on physical boxes. Then Jeff Bezos and Marc Benioff (Amazon and Salesforce CEOs, respectively) in their infinite wisdom invented software as a service (SaaS, in the case of Salesforce) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS, in the case of Amazon's Amazon Web Services business unit).
The world would never be the same. Suddenly, organizations could acquire technology on demand and priced in an "as you consume" manner. Excitement abounded.
But technology stacks often have three components, and there was a world of people who didn't really benefit from either SaaS or IaaS. I speak of the developers, not the people who want to use actual software nor those who want to manage servers, but those who write code for others to use and yet others to manage. These developers needed platforms that packaged up all of the stuff they normally had to worry about -- scaling, load balancing, etc.
And so the smart folks at Heroku and Engine Yard invented platform as a service (PaaS). While it is debatable who invented it (Benioff would likely claim he did as part of Salesforce), the reality is that it doesn't matter. We now live in a world with three -as-a-service layers: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.
For a two-minute visual explanation of the stack, enjoy yours truly in the (slightly dated, but still largely accurate) video here.
Fast-forward to today and Cloud Foundry seems to be enjoying the biggest recognition and industry buy-in for PaaS. True, other PaaS offerings exist (Microsoft has PaaS-like offerings in Azure, Heroku still exists within Salesforce, EngineYard is still a player and Oracle goes to great pains to explain that it has PaaS services), but for the most part, Cloud Foundry seems to have stolen much of the thunder of PaaS.
Apart from a pesky open-source project out of Red Hat: OpenShift. OpenShift has managed to overcome the not-insignificant fact that every man and his dog is talking about Cloud Foundry, and has built a small but significant and loyal following for its platform.
Which seems to have paid dividends if some news out of Google last week is anything to go by. It seems that Google and Red Hat jointly announced that they're working together to deliver OpenShift to the Google public cloud. Sometime "in the coming months," storage and analytics services currently offered by Google's Cloud Platform will natively work with OpenShift.
The flavor of OpenShift in question, OpenShift Dedicated, is a new offering that Red Hat launched last month. Somewhat confusingly (given its name), it allows organizations to run OpenShift, not on their own on-premises infrastructure as was usually the case, but on public clouds such as Amazon Web Services. And now, Google.
On the one hand, we could see this as an unimportant announcement that means little to either party beyond some co-marketing. But Google is smart, and it just hired one of the smartest executives in the business: Diane Greene, co-founder and former (deposed) CEO of VMware.
Given that OpenShift supports both Docker and Kubernetes, a Google-backed open-source project, this looks like a good fit. And given Greene's goal to start chipping away at the massive lead that AWS has in the public cloud, it could just about be game on.
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