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Man Survives Steve Ballmer’s Flying Chair To Build ’21st Century Linux’ (wired.com)
173 points by wallflower on Nov 19, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 38 comments

For hackers, this is how PR is done. The hook is Steve Balmer's flying chair, but the aim of the stsory is to position Cloud Foundry as what Microsoft isn't. Very well done. If anything it might convince people to take a closer look at it.

I had downloaded cloud foundry when it was announced but did little with it. I might have a closer look again.

As I was reading that story I was imagining the pitch email that was sent by VMWare's PR team to this journalist.

Sometimes it is a little too artificial. You are right though, if you give most writers an interesting hook, they will use it and then recite the remainder of your pitch deck almost verbatim (as in this case)

Don't be so sure this started as a PR pitch...Cade has been covering Cloud Foundry and Appfog since they adopted Cloud Foundry, see all of his articles about it over at the Register, example: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/09/13/appfog_adds_ruby_and...

You haven't read Metz' past work if you think he's reciting a blind pitch. Don't talk out of your ass.

If you want to give it another try, email me at jeremy@appfog.com and I'll set you up with a private beta account. We're committed to making it as easy as possible to get started.

Any inside info on Python support? It seems a curious omission when they run node, ruby, and java.

Edit: Just saw that AppFog offers a wider range of technologies than the CloudFoundry page mentions.

Python support is forthcoming. Email me at jeremy@appfog.com if you'd like to discuss in more detail.

I highly recommend this 2005 PG essay on PR: http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html Very enlightening.

Mark, that is my direct superior, and Derek, are the two guys that made possible the whole Redis development funded by VMware story (together with a CEO saying yes of course).

Also if Redis was left as a completely open source affair is thanks to both.

I used to work at Google near the Ajax APIs team and used to see Mark, Derek, and Vadim hacking away. They are a talented bunch; when I heard they went to VMware I was sure they would come out with something awesome, so its great to see details on Cloud Foundry come out. Congrats!

Kudos to VMWare for open-sourcing this, it'll be interesting to see how they leverage this product. Google open-sourced Android because they wanted to have people to search using Google on their mobile phone.

I am also quite amazed that a team of 6 was able to build this seemingly complex product.

That wasn't the entire team. The original team was only 3! It grew to larger than 6 before Cloud Foundry launched in April (I'm talking specifically about Engineers). If you add other people the team is far, far larger.

Sometimes I feel we went about embracing virtualization the wrong way. We added instructions and changed silicon to efficiently run multiple, isolated OSes on a single computer.

The bigger problem that needed fixing was how to make the hardware scale transparently. I don't have any solutions to this of course. But I do imagine that someday, a good team might build transparent virtualization that scales over a network of connected nodes without having to code this explicitly.

In some senses we have this already: with some clouds you just have to boot a node from a tiny PXE image or a USB key, and it'll discover the cloud, join in, and VMs will migrate onto it.

Unfortunately physics simply won't permit transparent scaling of workloads across nodes. For any application involving communication between parts (anything not "embarrassingly parallel") messaging between the parts gets slower and harder as the parts get further away and there are more of them communicating. 1000 nodes have a million possible connections between them, so you can't directly wire them. You need a switching fabric, so your messages have to deal with multiple hops and contention -- slower and harder.

HN doesn't go for snark, but it seems reasonable to observe that in the end we will all survive Steve Ballmer, and projects like Cloud Foundry will be the reason.

I have tried it myself, with their beta hosted service - good stuff. I am very happy with Heroku but something similar, open source, and multiple vendors is also good.

so this is essentially an open source/VMware backed competitor to Heroku?

and Strobe for sproutcore is now facebooked i suppose

So what is their business model? I'm happy they open sourced the project, but they have to make money somewhere to remain a viable business. The article was unsatisfactorily vague about how VMware is going to make money off the project.

The article wasn't vague. It explicitly pointed out that there's no business model at all yet:

Maritz says VMware doesn’t have a concentrate plan for making money from Cloud Foundry. “A leap of faith,” he calls it.

I imagine the obvious business model though is to position themselves as the world experts on this platform and provide hosting and support to enterprise customers that would rather pay a premium for peace of mind as opposed to startups that would shop around for the cheapest option.

For one, this puts VMWare in a very good light with engineers who might have to choose a VM platform, just as with Redis. I confess that I generally like Google because they gave away a lot to the community, this can work for VMWare too. Kudos to them :)

I wouldn't assume that VMware have to make money off this project directly. It's enough that they keep customers locked into their eye-wateringly expensive hypervisor (which Cloud Foundry is built on).

It's like asking why is Internet Explorer free ... because it traps businesses into requiring Windows on their desktops to run all those pesky IE6-only webapps.

VMware's hypervisor is solution for running CloudFoundry on a private cloud, but at AppFog we are operating CloudFoundry on AWS, with ongoing work to support other public clouds.

Has anyone here built anything on top of Could Foundry yet?

We're dogfooding at AppFog. We self-host our web management console (see http://blog.appfog.com/creating-your-first-app-in-appfog-in-...).

When we needed a staging environment, it was just an `af push` away.

what's the relationship between appfog and cloud foundry? is appfog source available? i just watched the video and it said "open source", but that seems to refer to cf, not af? what does "registering" for appfog mean? is that pre-registering? or does it exist? can i try it out? what do you pay for? please forgive the questions, but i'm looking at all this for the first time and a bit confused...

CloudFoundry manages the application lifecycle of AppFog apps (deployment, binding to services, etc.) What you see in the open source CloudFoundry project is what we run on our servers, with minor changes in our private repo that are specific to our product (e.g. billing).

We are now in our private beta program. Signing up at http://appfog.com/ places your email in our beta list, which we create accounts for regularly and often.

We will announce paid subscription plans very soon, so stay tuned for the details.

As the article says the cloud foundry project already has a life of its own outside of VMWare with both ActiveState's Stackato and AppFog already offering products and services built on Cloud Foundry with a growing community of contributors to the project, the best is yet to come!

I find it kind of scary that when I go to the AppFog page and click on support I see only one item on the site. ( http://appfog.zendesk.com/home ) Surely there must be more documentation that can go up there?

We are aware of the problem, and we are working to address this. Thanks for the feedback!

We at AppFog are extremely proud to be a part of the CloudFoundry ecosystem!

If you want to get involved and try CloudFoundry for yourself, add your email to our list at http://appfog.com/ and I will personally add you to our private beta!

added eric at ericschrijver.nl , curious!

added thepumpkin1979 at gmail. thanks!

I'm hesitant to build on these technology without information on the pricing.

Very wise. VMWare has established a precedent with ESXi V4 starting out free, then drastically changing terms, conditions, and pricing with V5. Their prerogative of course, but there is no way I would build a business around free beer software unless it was also free speech so I can fork it if I have to. They have open sourced this code, so you can take a chance on it, but you have to be certain there is enough of a critical mass of code commits from the outside that it could fly on its own were VMWare to close it back up.

What I can't understand is how the hell Ballmer, who comes off like a clueless psycho, managed to get and retain such high position at Microsoft?

He's a sales guy, and it's hard to overestimate just how much of Microsoft's revenue depends on sales relationships with big, big companies.

He was Bill Gates' closest friend, according to an interview with Gates.

Great write up about Cloud Foundry, Mark Lucovsky and Derek Collison

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