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Dan Kohn, Executive Director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, addresses the 1000+ attendees at CloudNativeCon + KubeCon in Seattle Nov. 8, 2016 (Dan Richman/GeekWire)
Dan Kohn, Executive Director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, addresses the 1000+ attendees at CloudNativeCon + KubeCon in Seattle Nov. 8, 2016 (Dan Richman/GeekWire)

Major parts of the vast public cloud offered by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Compute are built on open-source software. Amazon’s EC2 computing service and Google’s Compute Engine are among the offerings built with free software initially created and maintained by volunteers, with well-documented, freely available APIs that can theoretically ease moving applications from one cloud to another with minimal rewriting.

More than 1,000 developers, vendors and end-users of open-source software have gathered in Seattle this week for the sold-out CloudNativeCon + KubeCon, a conference devoted to technologies for microservices, containers and the cloud. The show is sponsored by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), formed in December 2015 as part of the non-profit Linux Foundation, a nonprofit advancing professional open-source management for mass collaboration.

cloudnativecon_logo_color-copyThe “cloud native” moniker refers to the trend away from moving existing applications intact from on-premises to the cloud, and toward writing new applications that take advantage of the greater flexibility and ease of development in the cloud. Designs so complex that they’d be prohibitively expensive if expressed in routers, servers and other hardware can be easily, quickly and cheaply created in the cloud’s virtual environment. Rethinking how apps should optimally work — not just how they can work in the physical world — is part of putting the cloud to its best use. Cloud-native apps also hold the promise of avoiding vendor lock-in, because they rely heavily on open-source software.

Containers, the core building-block of the cloud-native development world, represent “the fastest uptake of developer technology ever,” said Dan Kohn, who became the CNCF’s executive director five months ago, during his keynote address this morning at the conference.

Containers take the older technology of virtualization to a higher level, packing more applications onto a single physical server. One big topic at the conference is how best to manage — “orchestrate” is the preferred term — fleets of containers. Among the contending products are Kubernetes, which originated at Google; DC/OS (the commercialized version of Mesosphere’s Mesos); and Docker Swarm.

It’s been just over a year since Google put Kubernetes under the care of the CNCF, and the software has moved from version 1.0 to 1.4, reached at the end of September. At the conference, CNCF is launching a program to train, certify, and promote Kubernetes Managed-Service Providers. The program is meant to provide organizations with support, consulting and professional services by trained and certified practitioners.

kubernetes-logoMicroservices — small bits of cloud programming, in any language, that accomplish discrete tasks and can be strung together to create applications — are another critical piece of cloud-native application development, and they’re becoming mainstream, with 44 percent of 1,800 IT staffers reporting their use in development or production. That’s according to the third annual “Guide to the Open Cloud: Current Trends and Open Source Project,” released at the conference by The Linux Foundation.

Just over 40 percent of all enterprise workloads are now running in a private or public cloud, a number that’s expected to rise to 60 percent by mid-2018, according to the report. Fully 95 percent of companies are at least experimenting with the cloud. Hybrid cloud is the fastest-growing segment of the cloud industry, expanding at a compounded annual rate of 27 percent.

At the same time, enterprise workloads moving to the public cloud are expected to triple over the next five years, the report said. The public-cloud market will reach $208.6 billion by year-end, up 172 percent from last year’s $178 billion. AWS dominates that segment. The report also updates the status of established open-source projects including Cloud Foundry, CloudStack, Docker, KVM and OpenStack, as well as up-and-comers such as Hygieia, LXD, Prometheus and Rancher.

The CNCF faces some challenges, including increasing diversity and providing sufficient precise documentation for Kubernetes, Kohn said. It’s seeking to host more open-source development projects, offering access to a $15-million, 1,000-node Intel-based computing cluster and a $20,000 annual documentation-production budget per project.

Samsung SDS, a Korean IT company with offices in Seattle and $7.2 billion in revenue last year, has become a new platinum member of the CNCF. Members of that highest tier get to appoint one representative to the organization’s governing board. Samsung SDS’s representative will be its chief cloud technologist, Bob Wise. The other platinum members are Cisco, CoreOS, Docker, Fujitsu, Google, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Mesosphere, Red Hat, and Supernap. The organization now has a total of 65 members.

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