The rise of Kubernetes has kicked off a furious debate over to what degree a platform-as-a-service environment such as Cloud Foundry should be redesigned to take advantage of a platform designed from the ground up to support cloud-native applications based on containers such as Docker. Now SUSE is moving to render that debate partially moot by making available a SUSE Cloud Application Platform that allows a containerized version of Cloud Foundry to be deployed on top of Kubernetes.
Gerald Pfeifer, vice president of products and technology programs at SUSE, says IT organizations are making it clear they would prefer having a common construct for deploying Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes. Both platforms address different requirements. Cloud Foundry, for example, is optimized for 12-factor applications, while Kubernetes is designed to run containers. But Pfeifer says IT organizations don’t want to have dedicated separate DevOps teams to manage each one.
The SUSE move to containerize Cloud Foundry comes on the heels of a decision by the Cloud Foundry Foundation to add a Cloud Foundry Container Runtime to make it easier to deploy applications on Kubernetes. But from a management perspective, Pfeifer says that runtime does not go far enough in terms of unifying the management of both platforms.
Pfeifer also notes the containerized implementation of Cloud Foundry also consumes a fraction of the memory footprint of other Cloud Foundry distributions and, because it’s based on Kubernetes and the SUSE Linux Enterprise operating system, scales easier and can recover faster.
While Cloud Foundry enjoys support from IBM, Pivotal and SAP, competition from rival container-as-service (CaaS) environments has put pressure on the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) to simplify its PaaS environment. In addition, Red Hat has already moved to host its OpenShift PaaS environment on Kubernetes as part of a concerted effort to erase any distinction between PaaS and CaaS environments. Use of PaaS environments such as Cloud Foundry has been generally limited to high-end enterprise IT environments that have significant IT engineering talent capable of deploying the platform.
While much work remains to done in terms of simplifying Kubernetes, a massive amount of engineering resources already is being poured into Kubernetes by a larger open-source community. Even Docker Inc. is now making available an instance of Kubernetes as option to the Swarm container orchestration engine it developed.
The CFF has applauded the containerization of Cloud Foundry by SUSE, but has yet to signal whether the technology developed by SUSE will become an official part of the PaaS environment.
In the meantime, IT organizations can take some comfort in the fact that it’s been proven possible to containerize Cloud Foundry. That means that investments in Cloud Foundry should be protected as Kubernetes continues to mature. In fact, one day it might not be possible to tell where Kubernetes leaves off and Cloud Foundry begins. Of course, that may have bigger implications for the CFF and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which oversee Kubernetes, than it does for the average enterprise when you consider the fact that most every vendor in the CFF is also a member of CNCF.