To make it easier to deploy an open source platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment on multiple platforms, the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) embraced Bosh, an open source tool chain. Bosh was originally developed by VMware to make it simpler to deploy a distributed system. Since then Google and Pivotal, a VMware sister company that curates a distribution of the Cloud Foundry PaaS, developed Kubo, an extension of Bosh that can be used to deploy the Kubernetes container orchestration platform. Now the CFF has announced that it will oversee Kubo as an open source project.
The availability of a tool chain for deploying both Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes represents a step in the right direction for IT operations teams. An IT organization, for example, can already use Bosh to deploy Kubernetes on VMware Photon, a lightweight distribution of Linux that is integrated with VMware virtual networking and storage software. But even though VMware developed Bosh, it turns out that the company still plans to develop an alternative approach to deploying Kubernetes on VMware using tools that are more VMware-centric than Kubo. Of course, IT operations teams can employ Kubo on their own to achieve the same end. But VMware is signaling that it sees a need for two approaches.
The IT industry is getting caught up in a debate between the merits of a PaaS environment versus container-as-a-service (CaaS) platforms based on Kubernetes, open source Marathon container orchestration software, or the platform developed by Docker Inc. PaaS environments as a rule will generally scale higher than a CaaS. Because of that capability, many enterprise IT organizations have opted to deploy container applications on a PaaS rather than use a CaaS running on bare metal server or a virtual machine platform. However, adoption of PaaS environments across the enterprise is relatively sparse. Because of that, many developers decide to make use of a CaaS environment that they can set up on their own. Alternatively, the IT operations team decides to deploy containers on top of a virtual machine platform they already have installed. That latter allows IT organizations to leverage existing investments in virtual networks and storage systems to support both legacy applications and those based on containers.
CFF CTO Chip Childers said that in effect, IT organizations will have multiple deployment options available. The challenge and the opportunity is going to be figuring out how to match the right type of workload with the right platform, said Childers. The good news is that it will be much simpler to construct a hybrid cloud computing environment using either a PaaS based on the Cloud Foundry project or using Kubernetes because both platforms can be deployed either in a public or private cloud.
Others, however, are a little more skeptical about the viability of two independent open source projects. Floyd Strimling, global vice president for PaaS at SAP, said that in the future he expects to see some eventual consolidation between Cloud Foundry PaaS platforms and Kubernetes. SAP uses the Cloud Foundry PaaS to drive an SAP Cloud service for developing custom applications. But Strimling said SAP in the future will also build some cloud services on top of Kubernetes. SAP, like many other IT organizations, prefers not to have to incur the cost of supporting two separate platforms.
In the meantime, systems vendors are also watching developments surrounding both Bosh and Kubo. The most common way IT organizations embrace new technologies is via a hardware upgrade. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to run the latest software on legacy hardware that is several years old. Chad Sakac, president of Dell EMC’s Converged Systems Platform Division, said technologies such as Bosh should make it simpler to support multiple software platforms using a common software-defined infrastructure (SDI).