Microsoft, IBM get behind stewardship of Node.js Web runtime platform

A new foundation created by Joyent hopes to establish vendor neutral governance for the open-source software

Microsoft, IBM, and the Linux Foundation are among a number of organizations joining an initiative to manage Node.js, a popular runtime software that provides interactive Web interfaces for users.

The Node.js. Foundation aims to be a vendor-neutral, nonprofit development organization to advance the open source Node.js and support its growing community of users. Founding members also include PayPal and the Fidelity financial services firm.

"What was once an innovative developer tool is now the framework of choice for millions of individuals and businesses around the world," wrote Joyent CEO Scott Hammond in a blog post announcing the new organization.

Joyent, a cloud platform provider, started the foundation. The company has been stewarding the open source project since 2009, when it was created by independent developer Ryan Dahl, who went on to work for Joyent.

Dahl created Node.js to provide a more efficient way for Web servers to process many incoming requests simultaneously, a task that other platforms of the day, notably Ruby on Rails, had difficulty fulfilling. In technical argot, Node.js provides an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that ensures a minimal latency in response times.

Node.js is built on the Google V8 JavaScript runtime engine, which runs JavaScript code on servers. Until Node, JavaScript was used almost entirely within browsers. That the language was already widely known by many Web developers helped Node.js's rapid rise.

The interest on the part of IT heavyweights shows how quickly Node.js is moving into the realm of enterprise computing. Node.js is currently used by tens of thousands of organizations across 200 countries, according to Joyent. It is downloaded about 2 million times a month.

As the software became increasingly used for mission-critical tasks, many Node users grew uncomfortable that Node.js was largely being controlled by a single company. To help alleviate concerns, Joyent started an advisory board for the technology last October, to allow input from more sources.

Nonetheless, a splinter group of Node.js users forked the code base to create io.js. Hammond has since reached out to the io.js community, hoping to reconcile the two camps.

The new foundation aims to provide a neutral governance model for the development of Node.js, much like the Apache Software Foundation does for a wide range of open source software projects.

Joyent sees Node.js moving beyond its home in large-scale Web development and into other forms of computing, such as robotics, mobile computing and cloud computing infrastructure. Joyent itself uses Node.js to power many of its own cloud services.

Foundation members will talk more about the new organization Tuesday at 4:25 PM pacific time, in a live Web feed from the Node Summit, held this week in San Francisco.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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