What the Kubernetes Consolidations Mean for the Future of Cloud Native
Cloud Foundry sponsored this post.
Like a stage set for a television show, the cloud computing industry is constantly reconfiguring itself to fit the day’s pages. Dash a coat of paint on a peeling gymnasium and it transforms into the governor’s mansion; pull the waist-high weeds from the front yard of a derelict homestead and it becomes a charming cottage.
Software and service providers similarly must continuously reinvent themselves in response to market shifts to stay relevant to the story — and that can require a lot more subtlety than adding a picket fence. A makeover in the cloud space necessitates constant feedback from users and industry leaders, and may require outsize changes during waves of sweeping change. And sometimes, these changes manifest as major consolidations.
The Consolidations of the Past Predict the Consolidations of the Future
From 2013 to 2015, we saw a huge wave of cloud consolidation, from IBM’s purchase of SoftLayer and OpenStack provider Blue Box to Cisco’s acquisitions of both Piston Cloud and Metacloud to EMC’s investment in Cloudscaling and Virtustream. These takeovers of cloud companies by tech giants demonstrate a shrewd understanding of the market by these legacy brands, as they saw an inflection point and leapt at the opportunity to become the change.
Technology moves fast. So here we are, in 2018, and we see yet another wave of consolidation on the horizon. IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat on the heels of Microsoft purchase of GitHub is a bellwether of change coming — and coming fast. Most recently, VMware announced it would acquire Heptio, a company that provides professional services for enterprises evaluating or using Kubernetes.
This indicates not just a cloud consolidation but an open source consolidation — and not just an open source consolidation, but a Kubernetes consolidation.
Why This Indicates a Wave of Kubernetes Consolidation
As most folks know, Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration system, initially developed by Google and now operating as an open community under the Linux Foundation. As we predicted back in January of this year, Kubernetes has become the next-generation approach for consuming infrastructure. In doing so, it has become almost universally adopted by cloud providers and enterprise technology companies, as they work to ease the adoption of containers within the enterprise.
The technical maturity of Kubernetes has happened quickly, and both public cloud providers and larger enterprise technology companies will aggressively pursue any opportunity to grow their respective share of the proverbial pie. Thus marks the phase in the market adoption of Kubernetes in which consolidation will occur in earnest.
From a purely technical perspective, the marriage of Cloud Foundry and OpenShift within IBM’s cloud offering may, in fact, prove to be an interesting combination. IBM has taken on one of the leadership roles within the Cloud Foundry technical community driving towards architectural convergence with Kubernetes. With the developer experience of Cloud Foundry layered on top of Kubernetes (likely to be the OpenShift version), IBM Cloud users will have the best of both container and application-centric developer experiences.
Recently, the Cloud Foundry development team at IBM spearheaded the creation of Project Eirini, an open source project which enables operators and product vendors to use Kubernetes as the underlying container scheduler for the Cloud Foundry Application Runtime (CFAR). Last month, IBM announced IBM Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment at Cloud Foundry Summit, which allows users to create and manage isolated Cloud Foundry environments for hosting applications exclusively for their organizations.
We have seen a similar level of investment in bringing Kubernetes together with Cloud Foundry projects by Pivotal, SAP and SUSE. It’s clear that customers and users are increasingly using both developer-centric PaaS and the infrastructure focused Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS). The architectural convergence of these platforms presents the potential for unification of both operational and developer experience.
In addition to the IBM and Red Hat tie-up, VMware has announced its acquisition of Heptio to bolster its Kubernetes expertise. This will be a strong addition to the VMware portfolio, and the acquisition demonstrates VMware’s commitment to bringing Kubernetes to the enterprise through PKS, a Kubernetes distribution jointly developed with Pivotal and based on the upstream Cloud Foundry project, CFAR.
At the Root of It All: The Desire for a Multicloud Strategy
In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of multicloud solutions among enterprises looking for the most efficient way to be agile, portable, flexible and vendor-neutral. Organizations want the freedom to deploy into multiple cloud environments and to use combinations of private and public cloud as well as on-premises. Technologies, such as Cloud Foundry and OpenShift, have delivered a multicloud solution for years. In fact, many companies use both Cloud Foundry and OpenShift in tandem to address their specific needs. We call this the multiplatform reality.
Major cloud providers have taken note of this growth strategy among enterprises to use a variety of platforms and capabilities from across the market — and now they’re taking action. IBM’s and VMware’s acquisitions of Red Hat and Heptio show that these companies fundamentally understand that multicloud is the world in which their customers already live. They also get the value of adding this type of open source leadership to their own portfolio of OSS investments.
IBM and VMware are key players in the Cloud Foundry ecosystem and have been involved in the direction of the project since the very beginning. It is thus hardly a surprise that they see the same multi-cloud future we see; it’s something we discuss all the time. VMware developers created Cloud Foundry and then spun it out as part of the Pivotal creation, years ago before it was open sourced. IBM has also been a long-time contributor to Cloud Foundry — both in the form of commits to the platform and as a partner in business and marketing on the open source side.
We see IBM’s interest in Red Hat and VMware’s investment in Heptio as tantamount to their commitment to the Cloud Foundry family of projects as we move together towards a unification of two unique and complementary industry standard open source projects. While 2018 certainly had its moments, 2019 will be a very exciting year indeed.
The Linux Foundation, Red Hat, Pivotal and VMware are sponsors of the The New Stack.
Feature image via Pixabay.