Microsoft Takes Another Step Toward Bringing Cloud Foundry PaaS To Azure Cloud

Microsoft on Friday launched a public preview of homegrown technology that makes it possible to run the Cloud Foundry open source Platform-as-a-Service on its Azure cloud.

Cloud Foundry, which was created by VMware but is now being developed by its EMC federation cousin Pivotal, is a PaaS that runs on any cloud and supports a wide variety of programming languages.

"Cloud Foundry makes it faster and easier to build, test, deploy, and scale cloud applications from different languages," Ning Kuang, senior program manager for Microsoft Azure, wrote in a blog post.

[Related: Pivotal Brings Cloud Foundry PaaS To Amazon Web Services Cloud]

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Microsoft has developed an open source tool called the Azure Cloud Provider Interface (CPI), which lets users deploy Cloud Foundry using BOSH, a deployment tool that's commonly used to deploy the PaaS.

"Hybrid and multi-cloud support is one of the key strengths of Cloud Foundry, and the Azure CPI enables you to extend your private data to Azure for running Cloud Foundry based applications," said Kuang in the blog post.

For less-experienced users, Microsoft is also offering a template called Azure Resource Manager, which rolls up all the steps involved in deploying Cloud Foundry into a single-click interface.

Microsoft is aiming to release a public beta of Cloud Foundry on Azure "in a few weeks," Kuang said in the blog post.

Chris Hertz, CEO of New Signature, a Washington, D.C.-based Microsoft partner, told CRN he thinks adding Cloud Foundry to Azure is a smart move.

"This means Microsoft will be able to capture more market share of companies that are using Cloud Foundry, and allow them to extend their systems into Azure," Hertz said in an email. "It also reinforces Microsoft’s open approach to the cloud. The new Microsoft has no walls -- it is a wide-open ecosystem."

Jason Sauers, founder and director of connected systems at Phidiax, a Denver-based Microsoft partner, said he thinks the software giant's support for Cloud Foundry will give developers more flexibility.

"Microsoft recognizes that organizations want options. With Cloud Foundry, developers will be able to continue focusing efforts while decoupling from the cloud host," Sauers said in an email. "Organizations will gain the ability to make quick strategic decisions on use of cloud host platforms."

Cloud Foundry on Azure is the latest of several steps Microsoft has taken to support open source technologies since Satya Nadella took over as CEO last February. Microsoft first announced it would enable Cloud Foundry to run on Azure at its Build conference in April.

Former VMware CEO Paul Maritz, now CEO at Pivotal, was the driving force behind Cloud Foundry. In 2011, Maritz suggested that Cloud Foundry could play the same role as Linux did in freeing developers from the limits of proprietary mainframe architectures.

Cloud Foundry was also built with help from Mark Lucovsky, a former technical director at VMware who left in 2013. Lucovsky was previously a distinguished engineer at Microsoft, and when he departed for Google in 2004, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was said to have angrily rearranged his office furniture.

Maritz spent 14 years at Microsoft before leaving in 2000. Now, Microsoft is embracing one of his favorite projects, in what amounts to another powerful sign of the ongoing philosophical changes going on at the company.