VMware puts Cloud Foundry on laptops

VMware (s vmw) has released Micro Cloud Foundry, a fully functional version of its open-source, Platform-as-a-Service software condensed into a virtual image that runs on developers’ personal computers or laptops. The aim is to make it easier to create and test cutting-edge applications all without having to download and configure the myriad components available within Cloud Foundry.

This might not seem like much, until you consider all that Cloud Foundry has to offer. As of its release, Micro Cloud Foundry supports Java (s orcl) on Spring, Ruby on Rails/Sinatra and Node.js, as well as MySQL, MongoDB and Redis. It also supports Dynamic DNS, so programmers can work on their applications wherever they happen to be, or so external services can connect to applications running within a Micro Cloud Foundry instance.

On his blog explaining the news, VMware CTO Steve Herrod writes that “VMware will provide frequent Micro Cloud Foundry updates to include additional frameworks and services.”

Micro Cloud Foundry works with VMware Fusion for Mac OS X(s aapl), and with VMware Workstation and Player for PCs. Because it’s fully compatible with everything else Cloud Foundry, VMware Cloud Marketing Director Dave McJannet told me applications created using Micro Cloud Foundry can easily be pushed to any cloud running Cloud Foundry. Also, Micro Cloud Foundry will be regularly updated to ensure compatibility with the latest versions of the parent software.

The product is currently available as a beta service, and is free to download from micro.cloudfoundry.com.

Micro Cloud Foundry is a small step, but an important one, in making Cloud Foundry a PaaS platform capable of competing with more-established offerings for developers’ hearts, minds and dollars. For example, Heroku has ties to Salesforce.com (s crm), Windows Azure connects to other Microsoft (s msft) software and services, and now VMware is leveraging its virtualization forte to make Cloud Foundry more appealing.

So early in the PaaS story, there’s already so much action and innovation. It’s hard to imagine where we’ll be even a year down the road, but it’s not hard to imagine PaaS becoming a legitimate rival to legacy application platforms even sooner than expected if the innovation keeps up.