The platform-as-a-service (PaaS) world has a new player today, thanks to Ericsson's announcement that it is buying a majority stake in privately held Apcera. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
News of the deal comes on the same day Apcera is officially launching its Continuum PaaS platform. While Ericsson and Apcera are relatively new to the PaaS space, Apcera's founder and CEO Derek Collison is not. Collison was CTO and chief architect of cloud application platforms at VMware from 2009 until 2012, and led the original design and development of the Cloud Foundry (CF) PaaS. VMware has since spun off its Cloud Foundry assets to Pivotal.
Apcera will be operated as a stand-alone company based in San Francisco, and the current founder and CEO will remain in his role, according to Jason Hoffman, vice president and head of Product Line Cloud Software at Ericsson. Ericsson will focus on the go-to-market efforts in the operator space, and Apcera will expand on its go-to-market efforts in the enterprise, Hoffman explained.
Apcera's product is the only one whose architecture and feature set allows it to work with the production environments of some of Ericsson's demanding applications, Hoffman said. Although Ericsson is now embracing Apcera, Ericsson is also an active member of the Cloud Foundry community.
"We will continue aligning with Pivotal's Cloud Foundry community and make sure the end-user experience between CF and Apcera's Continuum is seamless," Hoffman told eWEEK.
Apcera's Collison explained to eWEEK that his company's Continuum PaaS redefines what a PaaS actually does and benefits from lessons that he learned from Cloud Foundry. The Continuum approach to PaaS is based on three core capabilities for applications: deployment, orchestration and governance.
"For us, deployment includes a diverse set of workloads, from an operating system to a mobile application and everything in between," Collison said.
One of supported deployment approaches within Continuum for application deployment is the open-source Docker container virtualization technology. Docker emerged this year to become one of the hottest virtualization technologies, enabling applications to be easily packaged and deployed on server cloud hosts.
"We natively support Docker, and I would argue that Continuum is the most secure orchestration and policy-driven system for the deployment of Docker images that exists," Collison said.
Continuum also takes the concept of PaaS one step further, by making it a service itself. Typically, with PaaS, a developer or an enterprise needs to install a full software platform.
"Continuum is a service; it's not software," Collison said. "We take on the heavy lifting of orchestrating and updating ourselves."
Continuum is deployed in an organization with a loader program called the Orchestrator. The Orchestrator defines the number of resources Continuum is able to control.
An enterprise is still in control of defining when the system is allowed to update, Collison explained. Continuum can be installed inside an OpenStack or VMware environment, and a bare-metal offering is currently in development, he added. The Continuum service today supports the Amazon public cloud and will likely support IBM SoftLayer and Microsoft Azure in the future.
Collison said he learned a number of key lessons from his experience building Cloud Foundry that are now being applied to Apcera and the Continuum platform. On the deployment side, Collison said he has learned that there must be support for a diverse set of workloads and that it's also important to make it easy to connect different resources in a transparent way.
"Governance has to be part of the platform from Day One," Collison said. "Other PaaS providers are just trying to bolt governance on, but I believe that's the wrong approach."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.