Cloud Native: software you can trust

By November 8, 2016Blog

By: Alexis Richardson, chairman of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation TOC

Here is the news: CNCF is on track to provide common open source tools for cloud native apps.  

We are a young organisation, but we are ambitious. Our goal is to enable customers to deliver Cloud Native applications faster. We identify and promote high-quality cloud native software projects that solve real customer problems, and at the same time, we also find ways to support and grow their communities.  

We believe that a well-supported community delivers innovation at a faster pace than any other model and thereby repay customers’ confidence in CNCF projects. By doing this, interest from the market is created, which also brings in more investment. This funds our supporting infrastructure, education, marketing, and initiatives around interoperability.

Through the CNCF, we intend to create a commons consisting of software that you can trust. It is natural that this software be diverse — Cloud Native is a big area with many independent projects. As market interest grows, we expect to see greater cohesion especially once vendors ship Cloud Native stacks, distributions, applications and services.  

Maybe you will meet some of those vendors at CloudNativeCon this week. You will certainly meet many leading technologists from the community at large.

What we have done

Once we formed the CNCF as part of The Linux Foundation, our first task was to create a Technical Oversight Committee that identified and guided the first set of projects into the CNCF. This TOC was finalised in March — less than 8 months ago.  

The next step was to build velocity by engaging open source projects that further cloud native computing. Which ones? The obvious leaders are already on Github and progressing at high velocity. How could we partner with them? We were lucky to have two leading candidates in play early on; Kubernetes and Prometheus. These were welcomed with strong consensus votes from the TOC.

Our view for these projects was “first do no harm.” We did not want to burden projects with intrusive governance, believing instead that well-run projects are more than able to manage their own core decision making processes. This has allowed us to work *with* project leads to understand their needs as we go — and a picture is starting to emerge.

At the time of writing, CNCF now has three terrific projects — Kubernetes, Prometheus and OpenTracing. Fluentd is being voted on. There are others that are getting close or in the pipeline. Exciting times! If your project might like to apply, see here.

There is more:

  1. Any open source project may use The CNCF Cluster.
  2. Our recently adopted principles on Code of Conduct.
  3. An in-progress simplified Reference Architecture — see conceptual stack below.
  4. CloudNativeCon/KubeCon is very over-subscribed with more than 1,000 attendees and next year will be much bigger.
  5. A groundswell of meetups around the world — Over 15,683 members across 54 Meetups.

Cloud Native

What we have learned

The following picture from my presentation at The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in Tahoe, 2016, shows a back-of-napkin plan for the next few years.

Napkin

As I said, we wanted to build velocity. But we started slowly. We wanted to find high quality projects — so we were patient and cautious and we sought consensus in order to establish trust and ways of working together. This created a baseline, which means we can now move faster and involve the community more. Please do get involved.

Here is what we learned in the first 8 months:

  1. Customers want us to start building up the bigger Cloud Native story and ‘brand’. We are close to having enough excellent projects to do that in a compelling way. Customers also want interoperability e.g. common APIs and formats for networking and monitoring — this is happening at the project level but we can make it more obvious and apparent to end users.
  2. We need to be even more community oriented — e.g open up to younger projects, which is under discussion. E.g. standardise on DCO with CLA as the exception, not the other way round.
  3. Getting real work done takes time and resources. The CNCF Executive Director, Dan Kohn, has created a team and structure for this. You can help us — with initiatives around testing & automation, documentation, example apps and patterns, and best practices.

Overall, I think we’ve learned that our core assumptions are sound. We must back strong projects, but with a light touch. In the era of GitHub, people do not need to be told what to do, they need help, services and common infrastructure that we can provide.

We ask them how we can help — we don’t tell them, we don’t make them join committees. We love open source, which is fast, more than open standards, which are important but emerge slowly over time. We are not a kingmaker organisation — we believe the market & community will select leaders (plural) in time.  

Let’s all innovate together

Let’s make sure that with the CNCF, we create an engine for innovation for the next era of applications.  The problems that CNCF projects solve are all about translating the lessons learned from the pioneers of cloud native — companies like Netflix, Twitter and Google, so that “anyone can do it.”

The focus of innovation therefore has to come from enablement as well as science. It is all fine to talk about scalability and automation, but you know what’s cool? People are cool. As more people and countries get connected and as web applications become better, we desperately need more developers who can make all of this work.

Innovation comes from people — developers especially — and enterprise end users. This means you!  Help us build the common set of tools that *you* need. In the commons, diversity begets quality — ALL are welcome.