Will real-time data processing replace batch processing?
At Confluent's user conference, Kafka co-creator Jay Kreps argued that stream processing would eventually supplant traditional methods of batch processing altogether.
Absolutely: Businesses operate in real-time and are looking to move their IT systems to real-time capabilities.
Eventually: Enterprises will adopt technology slowly, so batch processing will be around for several more years.
No way: Stream processing is a niche, and there will always be cases where batch processing is the only option.
DevOps / Platform Engineering / Software Development

Open Source Platform Engineering: A Decade of Cloud Foundry 

Twelve years in, open source Cloud Foundry continues to transform DevX and enable organizations’ digital transformation and app modernization efforts.
Jun 19th, 2023 7:00am by
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When Cloud Foundry, an open source, cloud-native application platform, was initially released in 2011, it transformed developer experience and platform engineering efficiency with a rapid path to production via cf push and revolutionary infrastructure as code tooling, known as BOSH. Now, more than a decade has passed since that first release, and today Cloud Foundry continues to offer an exceptional application platform for developers and platform engineers.

Here are some of the ways the Cloud Foundry ecosystem provides an excellent foundation for organizations to lead digital transformation and application modernization efforts.

cf push Defines Developer Experience

Cloud Foundry radically transforms developers’ path to production. Developers using Cloud Foundry soon discover that they can simply push their code to production with a single command, cf push. It not only enables them to move their application into production in minutes, it offers a robust ecosystem of service offerings that allow developers to provision databases, message brokers, caches and other cloud native services with a simple command. Cloud Foundry also integrates application packaging (buildpacks), logging, autoscaling, load balancing and application health checks in the developer workflow. In a world without a platform, the services mentioned above could take a development team days, weeks or even months to traverse a thicket of tickets, manual processes and toil gates to get their application and services into production.

Technical architecture and composition of Cloud Foundry

Before my time at VMware, I worked as a platform engineer for a large retailer and saw firsthand the impact of the Cloud Foundry developer experience. On average, our developers could kickstart their projects and applications in a few hours compared to the previous running average of seven business days to deploy application code. Cloud Foundry provided a common platform to unify the developer ecosystem at this retailer. I managed and maintained over 1,000 applications, which ran over 22,000 application instances across 26 deployments of Cloud Foundry. The platform served more than 1,000 developers, who deployed applications ranging from e-commerce, health care, logistical and highly compliant workloads. I now enjoy working with many customers daily who achieved similar results.

With cf push, Cloud Foundry allows developers to spend more time writing business logic than dealing with non-differentiating infrastructure tasks. I’ve summarized some key findings of the Total Economic Impact of VMware Tanzu Application Service, formerly known as Pivotal Cloud Foundry, in which Forrester Consulting performed a detailed analysis of the platform efficiencies:

  • Developers using Tanzu Application Service deliver applications two weeks sooner, resulting in an additional $6.2 million over three years in business savings.
  • Developers spend five times less time building and debugging environments, resulting in a significant time savings of $10.8 million over three years.
  • Customers who use Tanzu Application Service see lower attrition rates among developers.

Platform Engineering Efficiency

Cloud Foundry not only defines what developer experience should look like but also defines what platform engineering should be and what platform teams should strive to achieve. BOSH, an infrastructure as code superpower, is the core technology from the Cloud Foundry community, enabling teams that run platforms to transform into what we know today as platform engineers. BOSH automates the platform provisioning, platform-wide patching with zero-to-minimal downtime, automatically repairs failed platform components and enables the on-demand creation of services from the Cloud Foundry marketplace.

Cloud Foundry’s robust platform automation enables engineering teams to run global, mission-critical platforms at an incredibly efficient scale. At VMware Tanzu, we have started tracking a new metric, platform engineer (PE) efficiency, which tracks the number of developers a single platform engineer supports. Our average customer PE efficiency ratio is one platform engineer supporting 190 developers, with an overall platform team average of six platform engineers supporting 1,200 developers. In some cases, we have seen an average of one PE supporting up to 500 developers within an organization. The platform engineering efficiency metric is a critical differentiating factor, as our user base sees a drastic decline in PE efficiency when evaluating alternative technologies.

Cloud Foundry in the Market Today

I can’t speak for the entire Cloud Foundry community, but I can share some stats and use cases. We’ve found among Tanzu Application Service customers using Cloud Foundry:

  • 24 of the Fortune 100 run mission-critical and high-security workloads.
  • Five of the top 20 financial institutions run customer-facing banking applications.
  • Four of the top 20 e-commerce retailers run their platform on Cloud Foundry.
  • Cloud Foundry powers life-saving applications such as emergency services that provide roadside assistance and various vital health care services.
  • Millions of containers, or “application instances,” as Cloud Foundry calls them, run worldwide across private and public clouds.

For another recent example of Cloud Foundry in action, Mercedes-Benz’s Roland Fetscher and Thomas Müller presented the PlatformCon session “Improving developer productivity with Platform as a Product,” in which they shared how they have been using Cloud Foundry as the foundation for their platform engineering efforts over the past eight years. Roland and Thomas also shared these stats about the scale of their Cloud Foundry deployment:

  •  300 total applications running on the platform
  •  3,000 containers that back these applications
  • 1,500 platform services supporting these applications

Internally, VMware used Cloud Foundry as the foundation to modernize our critical customer portal, VMware Customer Connect. This new self-service portal helps millions of customers per month evaluate software, download VMware product binaries, request support and perform general account management. Other notable applications like VMware Skyline and run on VMware’s Cloud Foundry infrastructure.

VMware’s platform team runs many other critical internal Cloud Foundry applications backed by over 8,000 application instances and distributed across 11 foundations.

Bridging the Gap with Cloud Foundry Korifi

As the Kubernetes ecosystem continues to mature and evolve, the Cloud Foundry community has been watching developers and engineers struggle to build their platforms on top of Kubernetes. However, the Cloud Foundry community has taken these challenges as an opportunity to share and evolve their platform engineering experiences with the Kubernetes community. Projects such as Cloud Foundry Korifi and Packeto Buildpacks represent the latest work in the Cloud Foundry community, which aims to improve the overall developer experience within the Kubernetes ecosystem.

Cloud Foundry Korifi extends the cf push experience on top of Kubernetes, which can significantly improve the developer experience compared to a direct Kubernetes deployment. Packeto Buildpacks is an open source implementation of the Cloud Native Buildpack standard that enables developers to gain a similar application packaging experience within the Kubernetes community. To learn more about Packeto and Korifi, read Ram Iyengar’s blog post on The New Stack.

Continued Success with Cloud Foundry

VMware continues to make significant investments and enhancements within the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. Engineering teams are working to introduce Backstage, a popular open source framework for creating developer portals, into the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. Additionally, work continues integrating the next-generation Cloud Native Buildpack format within Tanzu Application Service and Cloud Foundry. Once complete, this should allow Cloud Foundry users to use new buildpacks that expand the scope of their platform offerings and application language support.

Check out Cloud Foundry Day 2023 to see the community share the work they have been doing to enhance and evolve the ecosystem. You can attend in person or online.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma, The New Stack.
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