At the time the Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment was constructed, the only form of infrastructure abstraction available consisted of virtual machines. Flash forward to today and there now exists multiple layers of abstraction, some of which potentially obviate the need for functionality built into Cloud Foundry.
The Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) is now in the middle of trying to navigate all those changes largely by committing to interoperability with technologies such as Kubernetes and the Open Container Initiative (OCI). Cloud Foundry developed its own container format (Garden) and associated container orchestration software (Diego). For now, the CFF is committed to continuing support for those technologies, while also providing interoperability with OCI, Kubernetes, the Container Network Interface (CNI) and Envoy, an open source service proxy, said CFF executive director Abby Kearns.
CFF also took the lead on developing an Open Service Broker application programming interface (API) that is being rapidly embraced by both the Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes communities and is starting to evaluate additional open source projects such as Istio, a framework for load balancing microservices developed by member of the Kubernetes community.
It’s already clear that all this interoperability is a first step toward tighter integration. After all, the amount of technical resources being poured into Kubernetes and OCI by consortiums such as the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and The Linux Foundation dwarfs anything CFF is likely to be able to match on its own.
In fact, the real opportunity for CFF may be to establish Cloud Foundry as the platform that provides the best application experience there is on Kubernetes. Red Hat is has already staked out that ground by tightly integrating the Red Hat OpenShift PaaS with Kubernetes. The best CFF has been able to do so far is certify a distribution of Cloud Foundry created by SUSE that can be encapsulated in Docker containers.
Naturally, it’s challenging to get a CFF consortium led by Pivotal Software, IBM, SAP and others to agree on strategic technology directions in a timely manner. Red Hat, for example, did not have to consult with anyone outside the company before deciding to integrate Red Hat OpenShift with Kubernetes. By now, however, it’s apparent that it’s no longer a question of whether Cloud Foundry will be integrated with Kubernetes, but to what degree. CFF last year created a Cloud Foundry Container Runtime environment on which IT organizations can deploy applications as an alternative to the native runtime.
In the future it may be a lot more difficult to distinguish where the line between Cloud Foundry and other forms of abstraction begin and end—or, for that matter, what platform it will be deployed on. Kearns noted there’s already a bare-metal instance of Cloud Foundry, so there’s already a precedent of deploying it without hypervisors.
Regardless what underlying technologies are employed, however, as long as developers enjoy the Cloud Foundry experience the chances are high the open source PaaS environment will be around the enterprise for many years to come.