The "open" movement is by its very nature less predictable and constrained than the traditional proprietary vendors, and as such it has evolved into an ecosystem of technologies that are only loosely compatible. Cloud Foundry has acknowledged the need for a more coherent and consistent approach to other "open" technologies, particularly the most popular ones, and has reported on the progress of two projects designed specifically for that purpose: Eirini and Quarks. However, the use cases adopted by customers of Cloud Foundry were particularly interesting. These showed that the culture and maturity of organizations, not the technology, are the biggest obstacles to overcome, and Air France-KLM Group provided an interesting insight into its approach to application transformation.
Compatibility with Kubernetes is a must for Cloud Foundry
Ovum's Software Market Forecast 2018–23 shows the fastest-growing segment is container management platforms with a compound annual growth rate of 30% by 2023. In a nascent rapidly expanding market, the key capability is to remain flexible and interoperable with the leading technologies. This sentiment was echoed by the Cloud Foundry survey, an annual survey of nine current Cloud Foundry users conducted across 500 organizations in eight different countries, which reported 90% of respondents stated cross-platform flexibility was important. The two projects announced at the last EU Cloud Foundry Summit in 2018 were designed to address this very issue. At the 2019 conference, Cloud Foundry announced that the projects Eirini and Quarks were now in public beta.
Cloud Foundry was originally built using the DEA scheduler and later adopted the Diego scheduler. Shortly after the adoption of Diego into the platform, Kubernetes became the leading and most popular orchestrator/scheduler for the containers market. Using Cloud Foundry Application Runtime (CFAR) with Eirini, operators can choose between Diego or Kubernetes to orchestrate application container instances. This approach means the CFAR control plane continues to be deployed onto virtual machines, using BOSH as the management layer for those VMs.
For customers that want to retain the Cloud Foundry developer experience but want to use the Kubernetes operator experience, project Quarks enables the CFAR to be deployed as a set of containers on Kubernetes. This makes the developer experience the same as they are used to from Cloud Foundry but enables the operational team to use the skills and tools from Kubernetes to manage the environment. When Quarks is combined with Eirini, the result is a Kubernetes-native Cloud Foundry experience.
Air France-KLM Group adopts a pragmatic approach to application migration based on Cloud Foundry
The customer case studies were a highlight of the 2019 Cloud Foundry Summit. The best example of these was provided by Air France-KLM Group, which made a clear choice to move to a new containerized architecture but only if and when it makes sense. Air France-KLM made a choice that it would use a platform-based approach to adopting containers and would adopt a three-stage process to identifying the workloads for this transformation. Using a combination of two models – the 6R (retain, retire, rehost, replatform, refactor, rebuild) and the 5S (speed, stability, scalability, security, and saving) – it identified three different project tracks:
All new applications from January 1st, 2019 will have a container-first approach.
All applications with technical debt will be rehosted on containers in a lift-and-shift exercise.
All other applications will be evaluated and moved only if and when a business value in moving the application is identified.
The years 2018 and 2019 saw the foundation phases of the project when the platform was implemented and training started. To ensure that training was scalable, the concept of pairing with Pivotal experts was adopted for the identified project champions. These project champions then go back to the departments and continue the education of their teams using the best method for their particular circumstances. Currently, 300 of the 2,000 developers in Air France-KLM Group are trained on the Cloud Foundry platform, and the target is to have 150 applications running as containers by the end of 2019. The start of the scale-up phase of the project will be in 2020, but no targets for the percentage of workloads moving to containers have been defined. This was a purposeful approach to ensure migration was delivered only if it passed the 5S model test.
Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions