Cloud Foundry was set up in 2011 by VMware as a platform-as-a-service cloud computing project, with the intentions to give developers choices in the creation, delivery, and maintenance of cloud applications. Cloud Foundry later found itself under the umbrella of VMware spinoff Pivotal, which then put it under the jurisdiction of the Cloud Foundry Foundation
While in Portland for the O'Reilly Open Source Convention last week, Sam Ramji, a former Microsoft open source official and current CEO of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, spoke with InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill, noting plans for Pivotal to spin out the technology's trademark.
InfoWorld: What would you say has been the key accomplishment for Cloud Foundry so far?
Ramji: The key accomplishment is the fact that we have people in large companies like Huawei [and] all over the world who have already adopted the technology and are running very heavy workloads at scale. Huawei is a very good example. They run [more than 4,000] production applications on Cloud Foundry today and they're capable of launching 400 containers per minute. It's the world's largest telephone equipment company.
InfoWorld: There's been some questions about the openness of Cloud Foundry. Pivotal still owns the trademark. How do you allay fears of potential users who question the openness of Cloud Foundry?
Ramj: It's a very honest point. We are in the process of transferring the trademark from Pivotal to the foundation. It's something that all of our members want and that Pivotal has agreed to. It's just a question of timeline. I expect that process will be done in the next 90 days.
InfoWorld: Why should I use Cloud Foundry instead of something like Microsoft Azure or Google App Engine?
Ramji: You should use Cloud Foundry on Azure, in fact. The reason you should use Cloud Foundry on Azure or on AWS or on OpenStack is that whatever you write in your application layer, you'll be able to move from environment to environment by deploying a new Cloud Foundry. Recently, we saw Microsoft contribute Cloud Foundry cloud drivers to the project for Azure.
InfoWorld: Is Microsoft a member of cloudfoundry.org?
Ramji: Not yet.
InfoWorld: Are they going to be?
Ramji: That's our ambition.
InfoWorld: How does Cloud Foundry stack up against other cloud initiatives such as OpenStack or OpenShift?
Ramji: It's quite distinct from OpenStack because OpenStack is trying to take the data center itself and make it into a set of APIs. They want to do compute, storage, and network.
Cloud Foundry comes not from the bottom up, [as in] infrastructure as a service. It comes from the top down, from the application layer. It runs on OpenStack and it gives developers an environment to run bits of code, run microservices, run their applications on this framework, so it's compatible with OpenStack. It also runs on top of VMware, it also runs on top of AWS. It also runs on top of Azure. There are a lot of different infrastructure layer things like OpenStack that it can run on, but OpenStack is one of them, so it's complementary to OpenStack.
Relative to OpenShift, OpenShift is a collection of technologies for containers and orchestration. It doesn't come from an application-centric view that Cloud Foundry is built on.
I guess I'd make one other comment about OpenShift. OpenShift is a single-vendor open source, and one of the most important things about Cloud Foundry from that standpoint is it's multivendor open source. We have 47 different members in the foundation. We have 2,500 developers contributing code.
InfoWorld: What is next for Cloud Foundry?
Ramji: The next big thing is establishing a certification program, so we've got a set of known distributions and we create a really healthy ecosystem. If you look at the lessons we can learn from Linux and from OpenStack, it is that when you have thousands of distributions, you create a fragmented market, and that's not a very functional market for all the developers. You look at the other end of the spectrum, if you look at Apple, there's one iOS, there's one iTunes. That creates one very large market.
I think we need to come into some happy medium because we're not going to be a monopoly. We're going to have many vendors who are commercializing Cloud Foundry. But we want to create a coherent market because that's more efficient for developers. That will give them one set of tools, and really important, that will give one set of users to sell their apps into.
If you think about where applications are going, there's this major application called Documentum, and Documentum is very big, very heavyweight, hard to install, expensive to maintain. That's actually been rebuilt on Cloud Foundry. Later this year, you'll see SAP talking about HANA running inside of Foundry, so both of those are targeted at the same outcome. If you've got a standard, certified Cloud Foundry, you should be able to create an efficient, unified market that lets app developers build and sell apps to enterprises.
InfoWorld: As far as cloud, I guess it goes without saying it's established, people are using it, it's only going to get bigger and bigger, would you say, at this point?
Ramji: It's become a metaphor for elastic computing, so now I listen to banks and telecommunications companies, when they say cloud, they don't necessarily mean public cloud. They don't necessarily mean Amazon.
InfoWorld: Is there anything you want to say about Cloud Foundry or anything else you're doing?
Ramji: It's pretty awesome to see the rate of adoption of Cloud Foundry as an open source project and we're trying to match that with the rate of change as technologies like Docker burst into the scene and rocket out. I think our job is to continue to be open to new open source projects and have Cloud Foundry be a platform that can make all that stuff run or work together.