Cloud Foundry Summit: CF Goes to Battle Against AWS, Red Hat, DIY Options

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud Foundry, AWS, and Red Hat OpenShift will duke it out in the OSS PaaS space over the coming year.
  • Cloud Foundry members favor the OSS community’s growing ecosystem in a multi-cloud era.

The phrase ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ never rang truer as AWS contacted the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) at the eleventh hour asking to be a sponsor at this month’s annual Cloud Foundry Summit in Boston. The open source project’s top rivals are AWS, Red Hat OpenShift, and enterprise DIY projects. Perhaps Amazon wanted to get a peek into the goings-on between the 63 members which make up the Cloud Foundry community, including the newest member, Chinese telco giant Alibaba.

Open source software technology Cloud Foundry plays a key role ensuring that vendors’ application platform services integrate easily among cloud partnerships, based on technologies such as the Open Service Broker API. Platforms built on Cloud Foundry include IBM Cloud, Pivotal CF (PCF), SUSE, and Mendix. These companies are among the growing ecosystem of participants, indicating strength in numbers and thus ensuring technology longevity and cloud portability. In terms of keeping costs down, most Cloud Foundry customers presenting on panels during the conference noted that they were customers of PCF, considered to be one of the lower-cost PaaS options.

Mendix is a good example of a Cloud Foundry partner’s success. The low-code pure play’s decision early on to embrace the Cloud Foundry project and support Docker made it a more plausible partner among cloud leaders. Mendix provides cloud partners IBM and SAP, respectively, with smooth technology integration (so its low-code service is available through a one-click option on IBM’s console, for example).

Cloud Foundry’s most powerful punch to AWS and OpenShift comes in the form of partner innovations. Various projects were on display by Cloud Foundry members last week during keynote speeches and breakout sessions, including SUSE, IBM, Google, Microsoft, and others. Partners showcased high-value services, including:

  • SUSE, now certified on Cloud Foundry, demonstrated its open source contribution, Stratos, a web-based UI (console) and a role-based interface for managing Cloud Foundry apps. Late to the PaaS space, SUSE is promoting its Kubernetes and container-as-a-service (CaaS) implementation of Cloud Foundry, claiming a significantly smaller footprint as its key differentiator from Pivotal, whose implementations typically involve numerous VMs with large enterprise deployments.
  • Microsoft highlighted the strength of its recently released Open Service Broker for Azure (OSBA), demonstrating during one keynote its CLI service catalog which eases the connection of Kubernetes apps with Microsoft’s more popular Azure services, including Azure Cosmos DB, a distributed multi-model database. OSBA allows for easy integration between apps and over ten of Azure’s services to date.
  • Application performance monitoring provider Dynatrace talked up its DevOps strategy, which is based on innovative projects involving automation and a focus on ‘Shift Left’ initiatives. Developer access to the APM technology supports performance monitoring at the early stage of app development, helping avoid bad code being released into production. Additional integrations are expected between Dynatrace’s solution and Riff functions service, as well as IT automation technology Ansible.

Such projects are encouraging to IT directors, some of which noted new mandates dictated by company heads to move workloads to the cloud or lose IT funding. The weight of such daunting projects involving mounds of legacy apps was evident during conversations. IT professionals are desperate for solutions providers to simplify application cloud migrations and eliminate the complexities behind moving apps into production.

Cloud Foundry Summit is hot on the heels of cloud rival AWS’ recent developer conference, AWS Summit, in San Francisco earlier this month. At that summit, the IaaS/PaaS giant provided updates on a number of developer tools, architectures, and technologies including SageMaker ML, Amazon Lambda and Aurora Serverless, and EKS and Fargate containers (please see “AWS Summit 2018: Amazon Targets Enterprise Developers for App Cloud Migration via ML, Serverless Computing,” April 6, 2018).

The cloud rivals’ marching orders are clear, dictated by enterprise customers: simplify the application development and deployment process in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments.

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