With commercial release of Cloud Foundry, Pivotal aims for broad corporate PaaS adoption

More than a year in the making — first at VMware(s vmw) and then at Pivotal — Pivotal’s commercial distribution of the Cloud Foundry PaaS will be generally available on November 15. As we have heard, Pivotal has grand ambitions to make this cross-cloud platform a for-real application layer for enterprise use. Of course, broad cross-cloud adoption has always been the strategy for Cloud Foundry — what Pivotal has done is layer data analytics and other services atop the PaaS.

Pivotal CF “is our big enterprise product launch. Now you can have your own Cloud Foundry on the cloud of your choice running on vSphere behind the firewall or on OpenStack or AWS,” said Scott Yara, senior vice president of products and platform for Pivotal, the company spun out of EMC and VMware last year to pursue this goal using bits and pieces of technology from the parent companies.

IaaS below, PaaS in between, services on top

There are two basic components — first the Pivotal CF commercial distribution and second a set of services to run atop that platform, including: Pivotal HD, which IT pros can use to build and manage Hadoop as a native service; Pivotal AX analytics; Pivotal RabbitMQ message broker; and MySQL Dev Service for provisioning MySQL databases atop the platform.

Pricing was not available, but Pivotal said those details will be available on the PivotalOne web site.

PivotalCFThis is an ambitious undertaking and one meant to bring PaaS fully into the realm of enterprise users. Towards that end, Pivotal got General Electric — as enterprisey as you can get — aboard as an investor and user.

The problem with PaaS to date is that, while developers love to build and deploy applications easily on rentable infrastructure, most companies still opt to bring those applications in-house when they’re complete.

Pivotal aims to change that in part by abstracting out the differences of underlying infrastructure so once the application is built, businesses are not locked into any single cloud provider — although of course there is dependency on Cloud Foundry itself. There are other Cloud Foundry PaaSes on the market now, coming from third parties including CenturyLink/Savvis, ActiveState, Tier 3 and other providers.

pivotal choice“Enterprises want an application and data platform similar in scale and automation to what Google(s goog) and others have built for themselves,”  said Yara (pictured above).

The news comes at an interesting time. A sometimes heated debate erupted in recent weeks about whether OpenStack — one of Cloud Foundry’s supported cloud infrastructures — is rushing to add PaaS-like functionality to its infrastructure and by doing so is alienating its partner ecosystem trying to build services atop OpenStack.

The PaaS-IaaS kerfuffle

Yara said the controversy stems from a misunderstanding of what a PaaS aims to do.

“We see a number of clouds — OpenStack is certainly one — that people will want to use. AWS isn’t going away, Google has and will continue to have meaningful scale; Microsoft will be there and VMware has aggressive plans. If you think of all those cloud platforms as the modern hardware, you just want to write apps that run on all of them. PaaS should provide portability between clouds and provide binding to a bunch of services,” he said.

By that definition, he continued, a PaaS cannot be singly bound to OpenStack.

To reinforce the cross-cloud nature of Pivotal CF, the company will run advertisements today touting support from companies including OpenStack backers IBM(s ibm), Canonical and others. Verizon(s vz) Enterprise Services is also now aboard the Cloud Foundry advisory board and is working with Pivotal on a Cloud Foundry instance to run on its Verizon Cloud which should be available next year.

Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz, Yara and Pivotal head of products James Watters will talk about the Cloud Foundry on a webcast slated for 10 a.m. PST.