How to Avoid the Bulldozer: Highlights of Cloud Foundry Summit 2017
This year’s Cloud Foundry Summit was best summed up by someone who wasn’t even there.
Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal penned on Friday:
Existing businesses that can’t respond by becoming tech companies themselves are going to get bought or bulldozed.
That’s the rub these days, isn’t it?
Enterprises got together in Silicon Valley last week to talk to one another about how their respective rebirths were going. Amid the cross-talk, a few themes emerged.
Word of the Summit: abstraction
Teams love Cloud Foundry because it is a powerful abstraction. Use it to get code to production as quickly as possible. This is an app-centric abstraction.
Here’s the plot twist. Redmonk’s Stephen O’Grady observed that we’re living through a “Cambrian Explosion” of dev tools.
The result is a very noisy market. Hundreds of vendors compete for the enterprise IT dollar. The race is on to provide the best set of abstractions for the widest range of use cases with a single operational toolchain.
That’s why Cloud Foundry is adding serverless and container-centric abstractions.
Developers want to use the right tools for the job. Much of the time, they want velocity with Cloud Foundry. Other use cases call for access to infrastructure primitives (use Kubo!). Serverless is clearly a pattern that will have a place. And you need data services to make everything work.
And how do operations teams stay sane in this world, let alone security and compliance teams? BOSH ties everything together.
Different abstractions for different folks, without compromise.
It’s a pragmatic response by the Cloud Foundry community. This brings us to the second theme.
Cloud Foundry is where open-source projects go to become more consumable
Google’s Eric Johnson sums up the project’s original mission.
Cloud Foundry users get to use multiple clouds with a single abstraction.
This has been the rallying cry for the community for years. It still is!
But a thriving ecosystem is also an evolving ecosystem. The practical evolution of Cloud Foundry was evident everywhere:
- Kubo. Have a use case that doesn’t fit for an app-centric abstraction? No problem, Kubo gives you the raw goodness of Kubernetes combined with the Day 2 prowess of BOSH. Run Kubo alongside Cloud Foundry with operational efficiencies.
- .NET. What other community brings Java and .NET developers together like Cloud Foundry? After several years of steady, focused work, .NET apps have a first-class home in Cloud Foundry. We’re talking about your full-featured IIS apps that run on Windows Server. (.NET Core apps are supported too.) Microsoft is now a gold member of the Cloud Foundry Foundation fergoodnessakes.
- Microsoft and Google join the party. Both companies are now in the Foundation, actively contributing code. Both were ubiquitous at the Summit. Cloud Foundry brings the biggest names in tech together to solve hard problems for large organizations. Better still, the Azure Service Broker and the GCP Service Broker illustrate the value proposition of multi-cloud. You enjoy app portability with differentiated services on each cloud.
- Open Service Broker API. The beauty of the Service Broker: it helps you extend unique apps to unique services in a structured way. Every custom app is, well, custom. But you can use the Service Broker to extend your app to a universe of services easily. It’s great to see more open-source projects adopt this opinion.
- CredHub. Leaked credentials seem to be at the heart of many corporate breaches. The value of leaked creds plummet when passwords are rapidly refreshed. Cloud Foundry is innovating to solve the most urgent enterprise security problems.
“Cloud is about how you do computing, not where you do computing”
The sage wisdom of Paul Maritz was in full-force during the event. Top brands discussed how they achieved velocity with Cloud Foundry while running in their own data center.
At a certain scale, there’s business case for running a cloud-native platform on-prem. The question to ask: “Can I still achieve my desired business outcomes?”
As many attested, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Just keep Paul’s mantra in mind. You realize a competitive advantage from cloud when you build distributed systems that change often. It’s not about who hosts your VMs or where they run.
The top verticals represented at the Summit: Banking, insurance, automotive, and telecommunications. The next wave of adopters appears to be coming from retail.
No industry has changed more so in 5 years (which caught more than a few retail leaders by surprise). Now, many retail executives want to embark on a software-led digital transformation. The Cloud Foundry Summit offered them a helping hand on two fronts.
On the human side, The Home Depot (a Cloud Foundry luminary) had has success with these principles:
- You are a business enabler, not a cost center.
- Get rid of your ticketing systems. Move to a conversation-based support model.
- Self-service everything.
- Trust and verify. Employees generally want to be good corporate citizens.
Are these unique to retail? Probably not, but people often want to learn from their peers in industry.
What about the computer side? We can get more prescriptive for retailers here. Scott Truitt from Pivotal advises a playbook that’s something like this:
- Analyze data about your customers. Tailor offers based on their stated preferences and demographic profile. Helpfully, your customers post lots of information online in their social networks.
- Know what you want to build and when to lean on the expertise of others. Focus on your code. Use off-the-shelf modern platforms alongside elastic infrastructure, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Play it right, and you’ll launch new digital experiences faster than you think.
- Lean on your existing systems. Your digital offers are more compelling when they’re local. Reconcile your personalized offers with the inventory you have on-hand near the user.
UPDATE June 22: Scott’s demo from the Summit is now available online; I’ve embedded it below.