The fact that the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) has gotten around to certifying an instance of the Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment from SUSE may not seem all that relevant. But when that PaaS has been encapsulated in Docker containers running on top of an instance of a Kubernetes cluster, the implications for IT organizations just might be profound.
By hosting Cloud Foundry on top of Kubernetes it becomes a lot easier for IT organizations to stand up an instance of Cloud Foundry on-premises. Most of the instances of Cloud Foundry today are deployed in the cloud as a managed service because it takes anywhere from 10 to 40 virtual machines to stand up the environment. By hosting Cloud Foundry on Kubernetes, the size of the virtual machine footprint can shrink significantly. Alternatively, IT organizations can opt to employ Kubernetes to deploy Cloud Foundry on top of a bare-metal server.
The level of integration between Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes has become a significant issue largely because Red Hat has already integrated its OpenShift PaaS with Kubernetes running on both public clouds and on-premises.
SUSE, meanwhile, is leveraging Kubernetes to more tightly integrate its Cloud Foundry distribution with public clouds that support Kubernetes. SUSE Cloud Application Platform now supports the Microsoft Azure Container Service (AKS) as well as backup/restore capabilities provided via the Microsoft Azure cloud. Tighter integration with other cloud service providers is planned.
Cloud Foundry has been encapsulated in containers using an open source Fissle tool developed by SUSE, which converts the BOSH code developed by Cloud Foundry to automate the deployment of complex distributed systems into a series of Docker images that enables Cloud Foundry to be deployed on Kubernetes using the open source Helm Charts tool to package the code. Ronald Nunan, senior product manager for SUSE, says the result is that internal IT organizations aiming to deploy Cloud Foundry no longer need to master BOSH.
Fissle traces its history back to ActiveState, developer of the Stackato PaaS that was eventually acquired by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE). Those assets were transferred to the joint venture HPE created with Micro Focus, which, as it happens, is the parent company of SUSE. Fissle is significant because it means IT organizations can leverage the skills they plan to develop for deploying Kubernetes broadly across their organization versus relying on a BOSH framework that only applies to a one specific framework, says Nunan.
It remains to be seen what impact making Cloud Foundry easier to deploy will have on adoption. Cloud Foundry use inside enterprise IT organizations has been growing steadily. But competition between Cloud Foundry and rival PaaS platforms is fierce. There’s also nascent container-as-a-service (CaaS) environments that, in some cases, compete with Cloud Foundry depending on the nature of the workload. The CFF has been making a case for deploying a CaaS alongside Cloud Foundry whenever appropriate. But it’s not clear how many application development platforms any one IT organization is going to want to support.
Regardless of the path chosen, the one thing that is clear is Kubernetes with each passing day looms larger in the future of Cloud Foundry.