I was meant to be in Boston last week for the Cloud Foundry summit. Alas, a triple booking meant I couldn’t make it which was actually pretty disappointing – I’ve been watching the Cloud Foundry movement since its very earliest days and am a big fan of the people that orbit the project. Missing the chance to catch up with some of my favorite people (sorry to miss you Abby, Chip, and Swarna) was a double blow.

I was, however, watching from afar and was interested to see the news from the show. There is, it has to be said, something of an elephant in the room. No matter how much uptake Cloud Foundry has (and rest assured it has plenty), for some reason it’s not seen as the new shiny thing anymore. That role is taken largely by Kubernetes (at least in the cloud-scale infrastructure space). That’s a shame since Cloud Foundry has a strong proposition to offer the market (evidenced by the fact that at least half the fortune 500 use the product).

For a quick potted history, it is important to note that Cloud Foundry jumped all in with containers – before Docker founder Solomon Hykes even repopularized the container notion. Kubernetes wasn’t even a glimmer in its creator’s eye back then (although, it is worth noting that Kubernetes direct forebear, Borg, was already running much of Google’s own internal infrastructure). Anyway, the Cloud Foundry foundation has proven itself to be agile, and last year launched a Kubernetes based Container Runtime for managing containers – a pragmatic admission that Kubernetes will be a part of infrastructure going forwards and that it’s far smarter to be part of a disruptive community, than to try and stand against it.

The summit last week was understandably a Kubernetes love-fest with much explanation of why Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry are the hottest couple on the block. The message seemed to be that Kubernetes may well be the most popular kid in school, but without the ability to date Cloud Foundry for the prom, it’s not nearly as cool. The optics make sense when one remembers that the Cloud Foundry Foundation and the mothership of the Kubernetes movement, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, all fall within the ambit of the Linux Foundation. The “better together” story sits naturally (albeit with a degree of discomfort) under the Linux Foundation banner.

And so to some of the news form the show…

Go East, my son

China is a massive opportunity for open source projects such as Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes. Indeed, much of the growth in sponsorship, membership, and usage of OpenStack in recent years has come from China. And so it is for Cloud Foundry with news at the show that Alibaba is joining the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a Gold Member. This move to the East is a logical one, albeit somewhat ironic given that it came the same week as the home of the Cloud Foundry mother lode, Pivotal.

Historical paradigms aside, and notwithstanding the great traction that Pivotal is seeing for its own Cloud Foundry offering, PCF, China is the new holy grail. While Alibaba’s Cloud gets little attention, at least in comparison to the big public cloud players, it is already one of the largest cloud vendors in the world. Contemporaneously with the announcement of Gold Membership, Alibaba announced that its own cloud platform is now offering support for both the Cloud Foundry application and container runtimes.

Indications are that Alibaba is also keen to become an active participant in the Cloud Foundry community, and beyond to the broader open source community – watch this space.

Cloud Foundry gets a Governmental vote of confident

At the summit, it was announced that The US Government’s application platform, cloud.gov, has now been certified as a Cloud Foundry platform that is compatible with the other certified providers – companies like IBM, Pivotal, SAP, and SUSE. In addition, although somewhat ironic given the way the company is viewed by the US Government, Huawei’s Cloud Foundry offering is also compatible. One would imagine that’s a feature which won’t be tested any time soon.

With this announcement, cloud.gov becomes the first federal agency to become Cloud Foundry-certified – something that the foundation is obviously keen to reference. With the certification, it means that different governmental agencies can readily move their workloads between the various certified clouds – something that will be a stamp of approval to those who worry about government agencies suffering from vendor lock-in.


Some good news from the summit, and further indication that, despite the attention that Kubernetes is taking from it, the Cloud Foundry project is alive and well and growing in size and stature.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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