At the Cloud Foundry Summit Silicon Valley 2017 conference this week Microsoft formally pledged its support for the open-source platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment by becoming a gold member of the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF).
Beyond influencing the future direction of the Cloud Foundry PaaS, Microsoft also revealed this week it will tighten the integration between the Cloud Foundry PaaS running on Microsoft Azure and backend database services. There also now command line tools for Cloud Foundry available within Azure Cloud Shell, a browser-based tool for managing Azure resources.
Corey Sanders, partner director for Microsoft Azure, told conference attendees that Microsoft is fully committed to Cloud Foundry as any member of the foundation. In fact, there have been instances of Cloud Foundry running on Azure for years, including the version of Cloud Foundry that SAP makes available as part of a multi-cloud computing strategy it has crafted. Microsoft claims usage of Cloud Foundry on Azure has increased 300 percent over the last year.
CFF CTO Chip Childers says that endorsement of Microsoft is significant because, along with Google, it means two of the three largest public cloud providers are now investing in Cloud Foundry. There are instances of Cloud Foundry running on Amazon Web Services (AWS), but the largest public cloud service provider has not seen fit to join the CFF.
The mission of CFF is to promote the adoption of multi-cloud computing via technologies that can be deployed across both public clouds and an on-premises IT environment, Childers says. He expects Cloud Foundry and the Kubernetes container orchestration engine to play similar roles in that regard. The actual operating system deployed in those environments, he says, is now much less relevant. The choice regarding when to deploy one or another will come down to the nature of the application workload and the relative cloud-native maturity of the organization deploying those workloads.
Microsoft has already made it clear it it is committed to offering multiple classes of services with Azure. In addition to Cloud Foundry, Microsoft already offers a PaaS environment built on its own proprietary stack of Windows software. There’s also both a container-as-a-service offering based on Kubernetes and implementations of the container stack developed by Docker Inc., in the wake of a strategic alliance between those two companies.
Obviously, the range of deployment options now being made available on platform such as Microsoft Azure creates some significant DevOps challenges. Rather than trying to limit the number of services developers might invoke, IT operations teams will need to focus more on making sure the right type of application workload invokes the class of cloud service that is best optimized for that workload. Naturally, that approach will require IT organizations to address both technology and cultural issues within their organizations. But given the limited effectiveness most IT operations teams historically have had in terms limiting deployment options, there’s no better time than the present to get started.