Field Report: The 3 Reasons Why the #CFSummit Rocked

June 13, 2014 Stacey Schneider

Andrew Clay Shafer emceeing Cloud Foundry Summit. Photo courtesy of Altoros.

Andrew Clay Shafer emceeing Cloud Foundry Summit. Photo courtesy of Altoros.

The first Cloud Foundry Summit fueled by the support of the Cloud Foundry Foundation wrapped Wednesday—and what a difference the power of the ecosystem made! Artfully staged at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco in polished hues of orange and violet, the event was still technically put on by Pivotal (next year it will be organized by the Foundation). However, the vibe at the event was more of a industry event, rather than a single company user conference, as it should be.

Emceed by an independent “human swiss army knife” in the agile software community, Andrew Clay Shafer kicked off the event with Pivotal execs spending the first 20 minutes essentially recounting the forces within the industry which drove the inception and incubation of the Cloud Foundry project at VMware, why it needed to be spun out to Pivotal, and most recently, why there was no choice but to pave the way to build and recruit a public Foundation that can curate it through maturity.

After those first 20 minutes, in an almost symbolic move, Pivotal was joined by a panel of Foundation members from CenturyLink, IBM, HP, Rackspace, SAP, and VMware, setting the tone that the event was bigger than any of them—that it is really the advent of computing’s 3rd era, and everyone needs to start rowing together to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead. In short, it is imperative that the industry work together to dramatically speed up the process of creating and deploying quality applications.

1. The Foundation supports Open Source as key to adoption

Fostering the Cloud Foundry communityI started working in open source in 2006, when enterprise companies scoffed at the idea of giving away free software, completely missing the point of open source. During that time, the conference circuit gave birth to an entire generation of events such as OSCON and LinuxWorld that touted these concepts to push the open source agenda and shine bright lights on the innovation birthed in the open source arena. The term open source was used ad-nauseum at these events in order to hammer its importance into the brains of legacy software execs. For me, when LinuxWorld changed its name to OpenSource World in 2009 marked open source acceptance by the enterprise, and shifted to become a mainstream concept in any large scale software effort. The conversation pendulum swung from open source back to the actual challenges and solutions.

Yet for PaaS, the intersection of the open Cloud Foundry Foundation and open development model has made that conversation new again. I don’t think there was a single presentation that did not contain the word open source.

SAP, a perfect example of one of the leading enterprise software companies of the era, went as far to admit that in the mid-00s, their corporate direction was to not touch anything open source, even if it made development easier. Assumably, this was born from a fear of indemnity issues and possibly from a lack of trust in open source development, pegging it for amateurs only. These were the standard arguments back in the day, and while SAP didn’t specify why they didn’t do it before, they did say that now it is a pre-requisite. When they were looking to back a PaaS play, the open source angle was essential to their decision to back Cloud Foundry.

Likewise, when asking users why they placed their interest in Cloud Foundry as their PaaS of choice, open source was always at the top of the list.

While Cloud Foundry has been open sourced for a while, and has benefited from over 1,300 contributors over time, until there was an open governance model, with big software luminaries endorsing it, it must not have seemed real. Today, with the Foundation numbering some 34 companies, the momentum around the project is growing exponentially and becoming a catalyst for accelerating PaaS in the marketplace, as evidenced by the spike in the #PaaS hashtag during the event spiking way beyond the event or the software powering the movement.


2. Real customers prove value

As a second form of endorsement, real customers who have deployed both Cloud Foundry and Pivotal CF showed up in spades to share their successes. To give you an idea, customers who presented their use cases include:


Photo courtesy of Altoros

  • Cisco announced that their Cisco Collaboration (WebEx) runs on Cloud Foundry.
  • Fjord IT and Axel Springer shared more of their use case of Pivotal CF that was first popularized on this blog. This story was revolutionary in two ways–first, in that it is central to a Green PaaS movement Fjord IT is shepherding, and second how transformative this style of development is for one of Europe’s media giants to help them compete in an age where print news is disappearing, and media companies are fighting to survive.
  • LDS Church shared some war stories on running Cloud Foundry clusters in production environments, supporting hundreds of apps and developers.
  • Phillips presented a business case on how they reduced complexity in compliance using Pivotal CF.
  • BNY Mellon shared their struggle to find PaaS, and how they found what they are looking for in Pivotal CF, so much so that they are joining the Foundation to ensure its success.
  • HP announced its new cloud offering is based on Cloud Foundry and Open Stack.
  • Monsanto shared that Pivotal CF is fueling its project for data-driven agriculture that will improve developer productivity by 50% in the near term and double crop yields by 2030.
  • SAS shared that they adopted Pivotal CF for its scalability, portability, usability and reliability.
  • CoreLogic shared a use case of a mortgage company that was able to overcome the burden of working with their legacy systems in a modern, agile development environment powered by Pivotal CF.
  • SAP announced that they are incorporating Cloud Foundry as part of their HANA delivery model, offering it as a CF service. Their experience has them projecting that Cloud Foundry has a good chance to become the Linux of the cloud.
  • IBM is making a big bet on their BlueMix PaaS offering, based on Cloud Foundry. Interestingly, they also shared the details of their evaluations of PaaS options back in 2010, reviewing Google Compute Engine, Microsoft Azure, Heroku, OpenShift, and Cloud Foundry, citing that Cloud Foundry was a clear leader in data stores, management and Java development.
  • Anchora shared the details of the Shanghai Jiao University PaaS, the first university community PaaS in China.
  • Altoros shared how a drug company redefined the quality of patient care in 800+ hospitals Cloud Foundry and HP Moonshot.
  • New gold Foundation member, Swisscom joined a panel talking about their experience building out PaaS services with Cloud Foundry on Piston Open Stack.

3. Microservice Architecture (MSA) is next

Russ Miles giving a lightning talk on microservices. Photo courtesy of Altoros.

Russ Miles giving a lightning talk on microservices. Photo courtesy of Altoros.

The whole point of Cloud Foundry is to let organizations focus on being more productive and prolific in their development efforts. Perhaps as a signal that PaaS-afficianados are eager to get on with returning the focus to development, the discussion of Microservices Architecture seemed to catch fire this week. Matt Stine, Platform Engineer for Cloud Foundry, and Russ Miles, Chief Scientist at Simplicity Itself, led the discussion at the event. Their sessions generated the most buzz at the event, so much so that they were referred to in two separate main stage keynotes. Stine and Miles spent much of the conference after their sessions meeting with attendees to talk more about this development approach. Also by popular demand, Stine even published his slides on slideshare here, if you’d like to check it out.

In one of those meetings, I got a chance to sit down with Miles and a video recorder, so this is a topic we will cover in more detail to come. However, the point of this style of development, characterized by building single purpose, loosely connected services connected by messaging or HTTP, is to bake in the ability to evolve rapidly into your applications. Miles admits that the initial architecting of these systems can be a big shift for many companies, and may even introduce additional overhead to your systems.

Yet, the vision of essentially never building a legacy system ever again is immensely provocative. The idea that each service could be taken away and replaced with a more modern one at any time prevents systems from becoming monolithic and unable to pivot with business needs. Additionally, the fact that each service could be developed with disparate programming languages and technologies future proofs applications. The single purpose-ness of the services also means that additional services can be added and the system will not break. He shared with me that while developing these systems using a test driven development (TDD) model, the unit tests generally end up being shelved. Functional tests were all he needed because this style of development makes an overall system ‘Anti-fragile’. To learn more on the microservices vision for this style development, we recommend you check out the book Anti-fragile: The Things That Gain From Disorder (Incerto) from which the concept was derived, and Miles’ book on the subject, Antifragile Software, or stay tuned for our write up and video. This is an important topic for PaaS developers we will continue to address.

More coverage on #CFSummit

Much of the event was video recorded and will be released shortly. However, I also encourage you to check out some of the news coverage and blogs on the event.

Recommended Blogs

Cloud Foundry and Open Stack

  • Altoros probably had the best blow-by-blow coverage (and most pictures, several included in this post!) of the event. Check out their Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 field reports from the event.
  • Rackspace discusses another important theme for the event—the pairing of OpenStack and Cloud Foundry. We will see a lot more on this in the future as well. For their view, check out the post A Perfect Complement: OpenStack at the Cloud Foundry Summit
  • IBMers also commented in on the Open Cloud Movement at the Summit, reinforcing that open is necessary for PaaS to solve the development challenges of our era.
  • Jeff Douglas, Developer Evangelist Architect at [topcoder] & Sr. Tech. Consultant at Appirio, gave his review of the event, including diving into why he as a developer was excited by the MSA discussion and predicts he will be a regular at the Cloud Foundry events.

Key Tweets

You can read over 5000 tweets by searching for #CFSummit or #PaaS, but here were some standouts:

Key Media Quotes

  • “What Pivotal has done with the latest release of Pivotal CF is pave the way for the next generation of developers to build solutions that rapidly extract information, analyze it, and feed it back into the system.” CMSWire, Virginia Backaitis
  • “Pivotal CF 1.3 is the fourth release since the company launched the PaaS into general availability in November 2013. It is using the same agile software development principles it coaches its customers in.” Data Center Knowledge, Yevgeniy Sverdlik

Media Coverage

June 11, 2014:

June 10, 2014:

June 9, 2014:

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