Where Open Source Meets Cloud Computing

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Cloud Foundry Foundation Begins a Long Journey | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

Linux Foundation to Provide Administrative Support

Breathe in, breathe out. Relax. Be cool. I'm telling myself all these things as my mind hyperventilates a bit about the sudden turbulence in the world of Cloud Foundry - turbulence that thereby affects all of PaaS, and all of cloud computing.

Globally, IT will spend about $2.1 trillion this year (according to a Gartner report), and cloud computing still represents a small overall percentage of that. Whether that percentage is 5% or 8% seems irrelevant to me. Why? Because I think we can be sure that over the next generation, the entire world of enterprise IT will migrate to the cloud in one way or another.

The Changing Shape of Clouds
Already, in the few short years that cloud has been in the mainstream IT conversation, we've seen the rise of "bare metal" cloud (thus ending the illusion of cloud's infinite capacity to users), the substitution of virtualized machines by Docker containers, and most recently, the potential disruption of containers through the recent CoreOS Rocket announcement and Docker's alleged movement toward full-fledged PaaS.

Meanwhile, PaaS was supposed to be subsumed into IaaS this year. Oh, and companies who were routinely accused of "cloudwashing" a few years ago are now considered to be mainstream cloud technology providers.

Which brings us to this week's formal establishment of the Coud Foundry Foundation. Initial reaction seems to be that his organization will be detrimental to non-members Red Hat and Oracle, although it's clear that Oracle will buy almost anything it seems it needs, and Red Hat is large enough (with $1.5 billion annual revenue) to shore up its weaknesses (say, in containers) as well.

How Will This Work?
I was surprised that the Linux Foundation will be the day-to-day administrators of CFF activities Should I be? A CFF spokesperson noted that the organization only has about $6 million in annual membership dues, so it makes sense not to replicate an administrative structure that already exists with the Linux Foundation.

To me, $6 million sounds like a lot for a consortium, based on my past experience in working for a couple of them. It seems as if the CFF message will get diffused and diluted within the larger Linux messages and marketing. How will CFF's priorities be served when they differ from those of the Linux Foundation as a whole? Or, is the Linux Foundation truly just an administrator here?

On the other hand, CFF may need the heft that the Linux Foundation offers. Cloud Foundry today is hardly the de facto application development standard for the cloud. It's also not a single platform. In addition to its barebones (some assembly required) open-source distro, it's offered as a commercial, expensive product by Pivotal, IBM, and Century Link. It can run an a VMware environment, or on OpenStack with the BOSH protocol (if you need to push data). BOSH itself has limitations, sometimes addressed by Canonical's Juju Charms, which may be described as either an orchestration tool or a PaaS itself.

More to Come
Whew. There's a lot going on here. There are many battles to be fought, both among CFF members, and by the CFF community against potential competitors. Disruption is the norm in app developmet today, and will be for awhile - because as noted above, cloud computing itself describes many things, and those many things still command only a small percentage of enterprise IT spend.

It will be fascinating to have a ringside seat as cloud computing eventually eats the world, and as the essential step of creating new applications for the cloud grabs increasing tens of billion of dollars of the global IT spend. The formal CFF announcement is big news indeed, but serves to demonstrate, in my opinion, just how early we are in the cloud era. I see more hyperventilation on the horizon.

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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