How to Avoid the Bulldozer: Highlights of Cloud Foundry Summit 2017

Jared Ruckle
Jun 19, 2017 · 5 min read

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:

“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.

Welcome, Retailers

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:

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:

UPDATE June 22: Scott’s demo from the Summit is now available online; I’ve embedded it below.

Retailers fight back! Use event-driven architectures, cloud-native platforms, machine learning to engage with customers.

Get the Tools to Survive and Thrive

Avoiding the bulldozer will never be easy. But the Cloud Foundry Foundation and oodles of customer examples (here and here) give you superpowers to fight back.