Up-and-coming infrastructure-as-a-service provider Tier3 has made a significant contribution to the platform-as-a-service world by releasing a .NET implementation of the Cloud Foundry PaaS project. Launched by VMware in April, Cloud Foundry initially supported a variety of languages and frameworks, but was by no means representative of the entire development community. It’s getting there, however: Tier3′s .NET contribution joins ActiveState’s addition of Python and Django, and AppFog’s PHP stewardship.
Support for .NET is particularly critical given the large number of enterprise programmers that rely on the framework for developing Windows applications. Presently, Microsoft Windows Azure is the most widely known PaaS offering touting strong .NET support, but it’s hindered in part by the platform’s usability, and in part because it’s only a public cloud. Startup AppHarbor is also pushing a .NET PaaS. Iron Foundry, Tier3′s Cloud Foundry implementation, will allow new PaaS providers to offer support for .NET applications, and also will give companies wanting to build their own internal PaaS offerings the code to get started (something Apprenda already does via its SaaSGrid product).
Technically, Iron Foundry and Cloud Foundry are separate at this point, but Tier3 and VMware acknowledge they’re working together to align Iron Foundry with the core Cloud Foundry code and developer tools, and I’ve been told that VMware will officially support .NET within Cloud Foundry at some point.
Developers can access Iron Foundry via a Windows version of Cloud Foundry Explorer or a Visual Studio plugin for Cloud Foundry, and the code will be available on github under the Apache 2.0 license. The company is also offering a “full testbed environment” that lets programmers experiment with Iron Foundry free for 90 days, although applications are limited to one web and one database instance apiece.
Tier3 is an IaaS provider by nature, and Iron Foundry is its foray into PaaS, which many consider the future of cloud computing. While Iron Foundry is still just a project like its Cloud Foundry namesake, Tier3 founder and CTO Jared Wray told me that Tier3 will have a PaaS product at some point, and Iron Foundry almost certainly will be at the core.
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