Cloud Foundry Pros & Cons

Cloud Foundry has a mixed container message, but that's not keeping it from sailing full speed ahead into Fortune 500 data centers.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

May 15, 2015

6 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: <a href="" target="_blank">Geralt</a> via <a href="" target="_blank">Pixabay</a>)</p>

8 Linux Security Improvements In 8 Years

8 Linux Security Improvements In 8 Years

8 Linux Security Improvements In 8 Years (Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Cloud Foundry has been slow to mature. It has a cloudy (some would say murky) story on Linux containers, and it's still trying to find its standing somewhere between the public cloud and the enterprise data center. It's currently got a foot in both.

Corporations use Cloud Foundry either as open source code or as a commercial product, known as Pivotal CF, available from VMware spinoff Pivotal Software. These users include Lockheed Martin, GE, Garmin, Kroger, Humana, the cloud unit of Verizon, and Comcast.

James Watters, VP and general manager of the Cloud Platform Group at Pivotal, says Cloud Foundry's future is bright. By this time next year, Watters expects Cloud Foundry to be installed "in 20%-35% of the Fortune 500," he said in an interview at the Cloud Foundry Summit 2015 in Santa Clara, Calif., May 11-12.

Figure 1: (Image: Geralt via Pixabay)

(Image: Geralt via Pixabay)

Cloud Foundry was meant to put a new set of tools into the hands of large organizations that would enable them to transform their software development and deployment patterns. It was meant to help them build next-generation applications intended for deployment on a multi-server cloud architecture. The platform is rapidly maturing into the thing that will help the Fortune 500 do that, Watters said.

Joshua McKenty, field CTO for Pivotal, put it a different way in an interview at the summit: "Ordinary people can't fly with a cape. They use a plane. Cloud Foundry is a plane." It's a practical vehicle for enterprise developers who want to keep a modern, competitive business supplied with software, he said.

[Want to learn more about Cloud Foundry availability? See IBM Bluemix Welcomes Microsoft's .Net.]

The Cloud Foundry approach was endorsed during summit by the addition of a new, high-profile member, J.P. Morgan Chase, which became the first financial services company to join the Cloud Foundry Foundation. It already has a long list of large vendor sponsors, including VMware, IBM, Cisco, SAP, eBay, EMC, Hauawei, Fujitsu, Intel, Orange, and NTT.

Figure 2: James Watters, VP and general manger of the Cloud Platform Group at Pivotal Software.
(Image: Charles Babcock)

James Watters, VP and general manger of the Cloud Platform Group at Pivotal Software.

(Image: Charles Babcock)

Where Cloud Foundry Is Mature

Languages: With this week's summit, Cloud Foundry significantly expanded its reach in programming languages. It already had a complete open source set, beginning with Java, but including PHP, Python, Ruby, Node.js, Perl, and Google's Golang or Go. "Every modern language is represented on Cloud Foundry. The only one left that mattered was .Net," which includes C#, said Watters.

Platform plumbing: Cloud Foundry provides sophisticated assistance in integrating services and subsystems into a larger system. It can aid a developer by supplying RabbitMQ messaging; data services, including MySQL-as-a-service; and Spring Boot, a deployment service that automatically includes a lightweight application server with the application so that it's ready to run.

Broad open source integration: This includes Apache Tomcat; Jenkins continuous integration, Chef, or Puppet configuration; Ansible cluster configuration and task deployment; and Redis or MongoDB NoSQL unstructured data management system.

Where Cloud Foundry Is Still At Work

Linux containers: Cloud Foundry offers Garden Linux containers, but "we're not talking 'Garden.' It's not about the [container] image format," said Watters. A mature platform would simply deal with Linux containers in whatever form they presented themselves, he said, declining to discuss the merits of different approaches to container formatting. Watters did not voluntarily refer to Docker. "It's about compatibility, not

Page 2: More improvements on the way.

buzz words," he said. This may be Cloud Foundry's way of not offending CoreOS Rocket or Docker users while keeping its options open. Support for running Docker on Cloud Foundry is coming through the Diego Project within the foundation, with a preview or beta version expected to be available sometime before the end of the year. But Cloud Foundry is far behind rival Red Hat's OpenShift in supplying Docker support. Cloud Foundry's support for Docker may always be lukewarm. If its approach to containers represented by Garden were as popular as Docker, it might talk about it more. But bringing it up now only lends itself to unfavorable comparisons with Docker in terms of marketplace acceptance. If Cloud Foundry's target audience -- made up of large IT shops in the Fortune 500 -- starts adopting containers wholesale, or using Docker in particular, this message will need to clarify itself.

User interface: ActiveState's Stackato "is one of the most mature implementations of Cloud Foundry on the market today," wrote Al Hilwa, IDC analyst for software development, in an email to InformationWeek. "Note that HP uses ActiveState’s implementation inside its Helion PaaS." The HP Helion Development Platform has ease-of-use attributes from its combined command line and user interface interactions, while open source Cloud Foundry has only the command line. Stackato is a commercial implementation of Cloud Foundry available as a service or for installation on premises. It added its own support for Docker containers last year, not waiting for the open source project to do it.

Business models: Cloud Foundry allows you to build an application that can be used for a product for which the user pays by the hour. In his keynote address at Cloud Foundry Summit, Harel Kodesh, VP and CTO of GE Software, said he would like to see additional models become options as well. As examples, he suggested "by the gigawatt," a model that might work well with wind turbines or hydroelectric equipment. He also suggested "by the energy savings," where a percentage of the value of energy saved by GE equipment is shared with GE. Kodesh said, "It's just a matter of time," before either the project adds more models.

Metrics: Cloud Foundry will add ways of instrumenting applications with metrics to report out to system administrators how well the application is running.

Virtual networking: Cloud Foundry will add automated support for VMware's NSX virtual networking, or software defined networking, so that new applications can be deployed with their networking needs already specified.

Container operating system: It will potentially add a version of Linux for running container-oriented hosts, VMware's new Photon system, Watters said.

[Did you miss any of the InformationWeek Conference in Las Vegas last month? Don't worry: We have you covered. Check out what our speakers had to say and see tweets from the show. Let's keep the conversation going.]

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights