The road to cloud native may start and end at Google

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation is figuring out what our container-powered app-stack future looks like, to Google's benefit

The road to cloud native may start and end at Google

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation, a Linux Foundation group to aid the creation of applications and services built with containers, has ratified its governance structure. Now that it's more than a pretty name, it's ready to tackle the task of creating an open source hybrid cloud.

The CNCF can now "direct technical decisions, oversee working group projects, and manage contributions to the code base." That last part is crucial, since the CNCF's working model revolves around creating code as a reference implementation for its missions, rather than drafting proposals on paper, then writing software to fulfill them.

Most of the likely technical contributions should be familiar to anyone who's spent time working with containers. Google's Kubernetes container-orchestration system and the etcd key-value store created by CoreOS are two of the bigger projects to be donated to the CNCF for future development.

The CNCF's work could bring an open source hybrid cloud ecosystem where applications can and do run anywhere, as well as be orchestrated on or moved from one cloud to another, whether public or private, commercial or open source. Containers, rather than VMs or various other app-packaging systems, are fast becoming the standard unit of modularization for cloud apps, backed by an ecosystem based on open source and open standards.

Google, for one, will likely benefit from the arrangement. A key CNCF member and donor, Google has been building a container-powered app stack in its public cloud based on many of the same pieces -- including its own donated component, Kubernetes. But it doesn't yet have a formal private or hybrid cloud to call its own, certainly not like Microsoft (not currently with CNCF) with Azure Service Fabric -- and Windows Server, and a bevy of cloud-enabled applications -- to bridge the gap between local and remote data centers.

For Google, a hybrid cloud would consist of its public cloud resources, backed by private clouds. It wouldn't matter what the customer ran locally, as long as it could support the container technologies shepherded by the CNCF. The sheer success of containers -- even Microsoft has adopted them -- all but guarantees the likelihood.

It's harder to gauge how long this will take to emerge, given that the CNCF has only now formally started work. But Google has sensed that the drift toward containers works in its favor and has been putting together the pieces. By the time the CNCF gives a vendor-neutral container stack the thumbs-up, it may already be powering Google's open hybrid cloud.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.