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Cloud Foundry Summit 2014 - A Review and Perspective

I've lived in a world of VMs for the past few years and since I started learning Ruby on Rails last year, I've seen a whole new light. You hear all the time that software is eating the world but it's starting to really settle in for me. This is where PaaS and Docker start to shine. As applications become less monolithic, the need for VMs diminish. PaaS and Docker are a new frontier.

 

To put it in perspective, check out this slide below from the opening keynote. Software is disrupting every industry and one of the things that Andrew Clay Shafer (@littleidea) said at the end of his final keynote on Wednesday was "If you aren't creating a software company, then someone else is...and you will lose".

 

 

I had been using Heroku as my PaaS platform for my little side projects, but that isn't attractive to Enterprises. Getting up to speed on Cloud Foundry was a good choice. The shift to 3rd Platform means that PaaS needs to be on the front of minds of IT managers. Currently, everyone is trying to master IaaS pieces by spinning up VMs from vCAC, OpenStack, or AWS but it's only a stepping-stone on this journey. At the end of the day, you're left with an operating system that has to be managed. PaaS gets you even further out of the OS and allows for even greater application density. It also allows developers to be in control of when applications can be pushed to spaces that are reserved for production vs development.

 

The one thing I really liked about going to CFSummit is that I came away knowing 100x more than when I went in. I was able to meet some great people (too many to list) and learn more about what customers are doing today with Cloud Foundry. It was an opportunity to learn about pre-packaged Cloud Foundry offerings from IBM BlueMix, HP Helion, ActiveState's Stackato, and (who seemed to be like the clear leader) Pivotal CF. There were also a few vendors there such as Piston, AppFirst, RedisLabsAltoros and others where you could get better insight to what value they are bringing to Cloud Foundry. There is a small eco-system right now, but it will grow exponentially very soon.

 

One of the biggest things I saw coming out of CFSummit was how many people could care less about VMware. Don't get me wrong, there was a customer testimony that said "We run Cloud Foundry on top of vSphere because that is our enterprise hypervisor of choice and our Operations teams are familiar with it." but majority of people look towards OpenStack + Cloud Foundry to be the next big thing. A completely open platform that each can scale horizontally to meet the adapting needs. It makes sense, but I also think this will take time. There was a breakout session entitled "OpenStack and Cloud Foundry: Marriage made in heaven" (slides) that was standing room only. It featured Egle (@eglute) from Rackspace,  Animesh (@AnimeshSingh) and Jason Anderson (@andersonljason) from IBM talking about the solution. It didn't come without it's own headaches along the way, but it will be a viable option in the near future.

 

VMware made a good argument for network separation. In a typical Cloud Foundry deployment, applications have access to everything. There isn't a very good "multi-tenant" boundary zone. Micro-services are accessible to any applications that need them. This is where NSX can come into play, but on the flip side you will also have Neutron and OpenDaylight playing on the open source side.

 

There were 800-1000 people that attended this conference but you could expect in 2-3 years time there will be ~8,000 people attending. There were a mix of operations and developer folks so there were two facets to every conversation. All keynotes and breakout sessions were limited to 30 minutes (some went over on the final day) so it felt rushed at times but it didn't feel dragged out like VMworld where everything is an hour long. I think all conferences should move to 30-45 session times because towards the end of an hour you tend to drift off into email land.

 

I had an opportunity to meet with the pioneers of this space such as James Watters (@wattersjames) and Joshua McKenty (@jmckenty) and listen to technical geniuses Onsi Fakhouri (@onsijoe) and Cornelia Davis (@cdavisafc). For once, I enjoyed listening to customer testimonies to see how enterprises were really using Cloud Foundry. I came away knowing more about the product with a renewed sense of drive to move customers this way. In fact, the following Thursday after the conference ended I received an email that said:

"Kenny, I have customer who want to deploy vCAC to run multi-tenant environment  with 300 VM’s (very light Web/App) with expansion to 600 VM’s around year 3. I was wondering if you could provide some info on best practice to build vCAC management."

I replied back:

"If they are doing light weight web apps, have you explored going the Cloud Foundry route instead? Lets get them moving a step in the right direction"

 

 

See you at the next CFSummit.

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