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Don’t Be Afraid, Cloud Foundry Is Not Going Away: Craig McLuckie

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Guest: Craig McLuckie (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Organization/Company: Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) (Twitter) | VMware (Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk

Kubernetes Co-Founder and Vice President of R&D at VMware, Craig McLuckie, was recently named chairman of the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF). The Cloud Foundry project and community is going through a transformation as it’s aligning its position and place in the infrastructure due to emergence of Kubernetes. We invited McLuckie to talk about his own background with Cloud Foundry and what’s in store for the project, the foundation and the community as Cloud Foundry goes through its own evolution.

Here are some key points and topics we covered in this discussion:

  • McLuckie talks about his background and experience with Cloud Foundry.

“My participation in the Cloud Foundry Foundation and the reason I’m so excited about being able to be a member of the foundation and lead the board is that I think we have an incredible opportunity to bring these technologies together in an open way, to look at what Cloud Foundry does in terms of creating a very keen and simple path from a developer’s IDE into a running production environment, with a lot of determinism.”

  • There is quite a lot of investment in Cloud Foundry. Should those users panic and worry about these changes?

“If you are not a Kubernetes user and you’re not interested in Kubernetes, and it works well for you, you don’t have to be afraid. We will continue as a community to ensure that that experience continues, that you have a great opportunity to use the technology to solve those problems in the way that you’ve been solving them historically.”

  • What role is McLuckie going to play as a bridge between these two projects?

McLuckie has three things in mind that he is passionate about; one of them being “the health of the ecosystem and finding ways to not only maintain the existing set of individuals that are contributing to the technology, but to actually expand that group of individuals. Just reduce the barriers to entry, make it easy for someone to submit their first pull requests, and start to feel like they can contribute and own the technology.” Check out the other two in the video. 

  • Any concerns as we walk into 2022?

“First and foremost, don’t be afraid, this technology’s not going away. We are going to continue to invest in it. You have VMware’s commitment to that. You have SAP’s commitment to that. We will make sure that that technology continues to serve you well.”

  • How do you ensure that we meet the users wherever they are in their cloud journey, whether they are using Cloud Foundry or Kubernetes? What are the efforts that are going there to help users migrate from Cloud Foundry to Kuberntes or integrate the two technologies?

“The community is almost ready to declare a beta for a Cloud Foundry implementation on Kubernetes. I’m personally keen to walk the journey with those organizations that are looking to bring that Cloud Foundry experience into this Kubernetes ecosystem. And I think that’s going to be just a really positive and powerful set of capabilities that we will unlock for those end users momentarily. 

  • How can Cloud Foundry experience make Kubernetes experience better?

“I think what you’ll see is many of these opinionated, vertically integrated platforms that are tailor made for the Kubernetes substrate will emerge, of which Cloud Foundry is just a great example. And I’m certainly committed to making sure that, as organizations are making those decisions around what that abstraction is on top of Kubernetes, we have some really great options available to them.

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Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome to another episode of TFiR, Let’s Talk. And today we have with us, once again, Craig McLuckie, vice president of R&D at VMware. Craig, it’s great to have you back on the show.

Craig McLuckie: It’s great to be here with you.

Swapnil Bhartiya: You were recently named chairman of Cloud Foundry Foundation, board of directors. The world we all know you as well, are the co-founders Kubernetes, Heptio was there. First of all, I want to understand, we don’t know much about your engagement with the Cloud Foundry community and project. Talk about what you have been doing in this community so that we can understand when you join, you take over this role, what we can expect from you.

Craig McLuckie: Yeah, no, and it’s been a really interesting journey for me. Obviously, I’ve participated in this kind of cloud native ecosystem for a little while. And a lot of folks have looked at technologies like Kubernetes and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which is the homing body for Kubernetes as being in some ways intrinsically competitive with the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. And one of the things I’ve observed is that we have this very rich and diverse set of tools that are solving different problems. If you think about the problems that Cloud Foundry has historically solved. Yes, there’s a little bit of overlap with the problems that Kubernetes as a technology solves, but it does so much more, and it does it in a slightly different way.

And so, my participation in the Cloud Foundry foundation and the reason I’m so excited about being able to be a member of the foundation and lead the board is that I think we have an incredible opportunity to bring these technologies together in an open way, to look at what Cloud Foundry does in terms of creating a very keen and simple path from a developer’s IDE into a running production environment, with a lot of determinism. Really getting their arms around all of the dependencies.

And then the capabilities of a technology like Kubernetes, which is really just normalizing infrastructure everywhere. Bringing those together actually just creates a tremendous amount of opportunity and value. You have a very mature, very well used technology like Cloud Foundry, that in many ways, predated Kubernetes and really pioneered a lot of the cloud native computing patterns.

And you have this emerging technology that’s being adopted as a mainstay by enterprise organizations everywhere. Why wouldn’t we want to bring those two together? Why wouldn’t we find the complementary value proposition and work together as a community to see if we can get the best out of both worlds?

Swapnil Bhartiya: A lot of people have invested heavily in Cloud Foundry. They’re a big company, there are small companies. And with all this transition that is going on, sometime those who really understand it, they don’t panic, but in general there might be some panic. How do you address those fears that, “Hey, you don’t have to worry about it. There is a large community that is going to take care of you folks.”

Craig McLuckie: Yeah. No. I think your point is well taken. It’s certainly, I think everyone looks at the duty cycle associated with the technology. And the one thing that I’ve certainly learned in my time in the technical industry is that the duty cycle of any technology is incredibly long. Right. I think 2019 was probably the biggest year for mainframe sales ever. Right. We’ve been talking about the demise of the mainframe for a very long time, ever since client server computing started to emerge as a trend. And the thing that I’ve seen and I’ve encountered, as I’ve talked to organizations that have already built their operating model around a technology like Cloud Foundry, is that it’s not just about the tech itself. It’s about how they use it, how they structure their processes, how the engineering teams actually do their work. And it’s very hard to change that.

Once you have a team that’s really familiar with the technology, that’s able to produce powerful business outcomes using that technology, retooling the team is a formidably complicated undertaking. And so, the thing that I really like about the current situation is, we will continue to invest in Cloud Foundry for Cloud Foundry’s sake.

If you are not a Kubernetes user and you’re not interested in Kubernetes, and it works well for you, you don’t have to be afraid. We will continue as a community to ensure that that experience continues, that you have a great opportunity to use the technology to solve those problems in the way that you’ve been solving them historically.

But the thing that’s really exciting is that we’re introducing optionality. You in that every vendor out there had a theory around where this was going to go. Google had a theory, SAP had a theory, VMware had a theory. We all thought about what the evolution of the technology should look like. And we all went off and did our own thing.

The thing that I’m so encouraged by right now is that as a community, we’re coming together. We’re looking at what the options are. We’re working as a community to figure out the best option for our users. And we’re collectively putting our best foot forwards to bring that experience, that capability into this new epoch of a Kubernetes and cloud native underlying infrastructure.

And what that gives us is optionality. You are able to achieve the same outcomes that you’ve relied on historically. But you also have the option to bring new workloads and new capabilities and new innovation into the same environment so that you can run these things side by side, have natural connectivity between the things that you’ve been using for a while. And these new technologies that are being pioneered on Docker and Kubernetes and some of those capabilities. I think it’s good for everyone. And I’m really heartened by the way this community has rallied together to form a strategy that works well for everyone.

Swapnil Bhartiya: What role are you going to play to either become a catalyst? Because if you look at pivotal or Vmware, that’s where the Cloud Foundry came from. You do have a best enter the success of Cloud Foundry. And then of course, you are co-founder of Kubernetes. You are like I say, both are babies to you folks. Talk about what are you current challenges that you are seeking because you can create your own challenges. Well, so talk about it.

Craig McLuckie: So from my side, I think there’s really three things that I am passionate about as it relates to the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. First and foremost is the health of the ecosystem and finding ways to not only maintain the existing set of individuals that are contributing to the technology, but to actually expand that group of individuals. Just reduce the barriers to entry, make it easy for someone to submit their first pull requests, to start to feel like they can contribute and own the technology.

We want to make sure that that committed group, the people that are working night and day, whether they’re working for a vendor, whether they’re doing it as part of an end consumer or the technology. Or they’re just getting going in open source technology, and they want to find some fun public project that they can participate in. That’s really the starting point. It’s just maintaining the health and wellbeing of the contributors to this project.

The second area that I think is incredibly important for any open source technology isn’t about the vendors or the people who are building it. It’s about the people who are using it, whether they using a vendor based solution, or whether they’re using it themselves. Just taking the upstream, open source, deploying it into a production environment and making good use of it. I want to make sure that we as a group come together to support those end users. Whether they’re using a commercial vendor provided offering or not. It really shouldn’t matter. You should be able to have a good experience accessing and consuming the technology.

And then the third area that I think is incredibly important is holding the option to continue to innovate as a community. Obviously, we see things like CNCF as an incredible source of innovation. It’s a burgeoning ecosystem. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Cloud Native Computing Foundation project list. It’s just amazingly wide and broad and deep.

But there are a set of things that have really emerged in the Cloud Foundry ecosystem that are anchor technologies for much of what has followed. If you look at the evolution of things like buildpacks from the Heroku days, becoming a keen expression in something like the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. And then also finding legitimacy and value in the broader cloud native and container ecosystem. Just having that optionality so that we as vendors can continue to evolve those projects, we can find ways to innovate that brings the technologies together.

If you start thinking about what does it look like to run a service next to this? How do I actually broker a connection to a server that’s potentially running in a public cloud or a service that’s being deployed in the Kubernetes environment? Just holding open that channel of innovation and collaboration, which is only really possible through these types of open source communities is the final area of focus for the foundation.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And since you also talk about the final focus of the foundation, if you just look at 2022, what are the things that from Cloud Foundry Foundation or the communities? Because then you talk about Cloud Foundry, there are three companies. But it’s a user base. Then there is a community, and then there’s a project. What are the things that you look at, where it’s heading? What other concerns do you have? I mean, we of course, talked about that what role you’ll be playing there. But let’s see what you see there in 2022.

Craig McLuckie: I think the biggest challenge we have is really balancing the journey for an organization that’s hugely invested in technology. I’ve had so many conversations with mainstream enterprise organizations that have, what I talked about earlier, not just adopted the technology, but adopted their software development life cycle, their development practices around the technology. And making sure that we can tell the story as a community around their journey.

First and foremost, don’t be afraid, this technology’s not going away. We are going to continue to invest in it. You have VMware’s commitment to that. You have SAP’s commitment to that. We will make sure that that technology continues to serve you well. But then the question is, well, at what rates do we start to introduce change? If a customer wants to go on this cloud native journey, if they want to start introducing technologies like Kubernetes into the portfolio, when do they make the transition point? When is the technology sufficiently mature that they can rehome a lot of those foundations that they’ve been running on a Kubernetes substrate?

And so I think a challenge is making sure that we are very clear and upfront with the end user community, the people that are using this technology around where we are in our evolution. And make sure that we don’t overemphasize convergence prior to the technology being ready. That’s secondary of focus and something that we are going to have to work through as a community.

And I think the final challenge, and this isn’t just a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity for the foundation. When I look at the ecosystem out there right now, one of the biggest challenges that the enterprise organization faces is effectively securing their software supply chain. We’re starting to see new threat vectors emerging around supply chain exploitation. Having a bad actor, injecting something into a piece of technology that they’re using.

And that will, I think, start to really dominate the mindset of a lot of enterprise organizations. How do I know I can trust this? How do I know that our developers are putting something into production, where they actually have control over the transit independencies that are being used to build that thing? And how do they know that, if something goes wrong, they can quickly discover that and get it updated and do that in a deterministic way?

And so, as I look at the evolution of this foundation and the technology and the promise of the technology that it represents, I actually think that challenge becomes an opportunity because many of the practices that have been adopted through the use of something like Cloud Foundry, embrace this idea of being able to repair on the fly, repave everything, rotate certificates. Get to a point where you have a much more deterministic delivery apparatus for those business applications that you’re building.

And so, I think as a community, if we work towards telling that story effectively, making sure we have all the controls we need to put in place, making sure that vendors like VMware or SAP, or other participants in this ecosystem, are supporting that community. And making sure that there’s high quality, at a constantly fresh, highly validated and secure binary is available will be really important for the coming year.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Thanks. There are two things that I want to discuss. First of all, you mentioned mainframe earlier. And we actually do cover open mainframe. But are we just modernizing all those technologies [crosstalk 00:12:30]?

Craig McLuckie: Yeah.

Swapnil Bhartiya: The point is that, a lot of those technologies, people might think that they’re gone, they’re dead. But the fact is actually mainframe does every transaction that we do most update, it goes through mainframe. The point is that even Cloud Foundry, irrespective of how people perceive it, it’s going to be around for a very, very long time because our investment that are done in technologies that are really beginning. Thanks for addressing that a company like VMware are connected to that.

A second point you also talked about is at what point companies should plan for the transition to Kubernetes. Can you also talk about what kind of efforts there are? We talked about care. But what are the efforts that are going there to help users either integrate or migrate? It doesn’t matter, the fact is that we are trying to solve a problem, whether we use Kubernetes or Cloud Foundry, that is secondary. The primary point is that we are. So it doesn’t matter where they are in their journey so that they can easily move where they want to stay.

Craig McLuckie: Yeah. One thing that’s really exciting news that’s coming up. And this is something that anyone who’s close to the community can get a front row seat to, is we are at a point where as a community, we’re ready to declare a beta. Almost ready to declare a beta for a Cloud Foundry implementation on Kubernetes. And this isn’t just one vendor. This is the community coming together, thinking through what the architecture should look like, figuring out what an idea solution looks like.

And so, that beta will now be available momentarily. And that’s going to be just a wonderful opportunity for those end users to start assessing this. I’m not going to say like, “Hey, it’s a beta.” It’s obviously got a little bit of bake time and a little bit of work that we need to do to make sure that it’s entirely production ready and it’s entirely set up for success.

But we have made tremendous inroads into bringing the Cloud Foundry experience. Being able to put up those guardrails and create that transitive closure around everything you need to be able to produce a secure production outcome to the Kubernetes ecosystem. And I think that’s going to be a lot of fun to work with some of these organizations.

Certainly, I’m personally keen to walk the journey with those organizations that are looking to bring that Cloud Foundry experience into this Kubernetes ecosystem. And I think that’s going to be just a really positive and powerful set of capabilities that we will unlock for those end users momentarily.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. When I used to talk to [Chippie 00:15:00] though when he was still at Cloud Foundry, he used to say that Cloud Foundry is more of a developer experience for Kubernetes. Cloud Foundry community has done a lot of things to right versus Kubernetes. Of course, it’s a massive project. And as you mentioned, CNC landscape, it’s very complicated. There are two main knobs. This is an interesting question. How can Cloud Foundry experience make Kubernetes experience better?

Craig McLuckie: One of the things we talked about when we started the Kubernetes pro is, we always saw Kubernetes as being a platform, platform. That sounds a little bit esoteric, but the idea is that it’s a platform on which you build development platforms. And what I expect you will see over the coming year and two years, three years, however long it takes, is the emergence of a number of different opinionated, vertically integrated platforms that are tailor made for the Kubernetes substrate.

And if you’re going to be embracing and consuming a developer platform that really provides a much lower barrier to entry, provides a really simplistic experience for developers. So they don’t get that complexity of Kubernetes right out of the gate, where they’re not exposed to that wall of the animal that you have to deal with when you’re working with Kubernetes. Why not look at something that actually has the pedigree, has years and years of innovation and evolution and support from top tier vendors around it?

I think what you’ll see is many of these will emerge, of which Cloud Foundry is just a great example. And I’m certainly committed to making sure that, as organizations are making those decisions around what that abstraction is on top of Kubernetes, we have some really great options available to them.

I don’t think there’s ever going to be just one of these. I think each of these different patterns and practices will cater to different needs, will cater to different styles of applications, will cater to different patterns in ways that strengthen and support each other. And so, this is just another option. It’s something that’s worth taking a look at, whether you’re a Cloud Foundry user, or you’re just trying to figure out how to set your developers up for success in the Kubernetes ecosystem. It’s well worth taking the time to look at.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Great. Once again, thank you for taking time out today. And of course, first of all, address some of the fears, the panic that is there within the community. Address those. And also, give some reassurance that this technology is there. There is a backing by vendors like VMware, so people should not worry. Also share that there are betas out there for people to try them out. And as usual, I would love to have you back on the show. And I hope we can do this again in person as we used to do in the past. Just keep our fingers crossed once again. Yeah. Thank you for your time today.

Craig McLuckie: Thank you so much for your time. It’s a great pleasure to be on your show.

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