​Cloud Native Computing Foundation seeks to forge cloud and container unity

Google is turning over its container management program, Kubernetes, to this new open-source foundation.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Open-source communities seem to do a better job than standards committees in creating new software that sticks to a common plan. In the latest example, The Linux Foundation, is once more fostering a new group: The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The CNCF, building on the newly laid foundation of Kubernetes 1.0, will seek to bring unification and creativity to cloud native applications and services.

"Cloud native" refers to applications or services that are container-packaged, dynamically scheduled and micro services-oriented. People who work with clouds and containers know cloud native when they see it. Container standardization is in good hands now with the Open Container Project. Getting container management programs, such as Kubernetes, and containerized applications to common ground are another matter. It's these problems that the CNCF will tackle.

In short, the CNCF aims to advance the state-of-the-art for building cloud native applications and services. This will enable allowing developers to take full advantage of existing and to-be-developed open source technologies.

The CNCF's founding organizations include AT&T, Box, Cisco, Cloud Foundry Foundation, CoreOS, Cycle Computing, Docker, eBay, Goldman Sachs, Google, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Kismatic, Mesosphere, Red Hat, Switch SUPERNAP, Twitter, Univa, VMware and Weaveworks. Membership has not been closed. Other companies and organizations are encouraged to join as founding members in the coming weeks before the organization establishes its governance model.

"The Cloud Native Computing Foundation will help facilitate collaboration among developers and operators on common technologies for deploying cloud native applications and services," said Jim Zemlin, The Linux Foundation's executive director. "By bringing together the open source community's very best talent and code in a neutral and collaborative forum, the CNCF aims to advance the state of the art of application development at Internet scale."

This is an important goal because cloud native applications have enabled companies to scale their businesses to meet the Internet's endless needs. As anyone who has tried to tie together programs and services above the level of such mechanisms as Representational State Transfer (REST) knows, this is not easy: The work is resource-intensive and costly, requiring companies to assemble expert teams that can integrate disparate technologies and maintain all of them.

There has to be an easier way. Starting from Kubernetes, the CNFC aims to find it.

Beyond that, the CNCF plans to create and drive the adoption of a new set of common container technologies. This will improve the overall developer experience. It will also pave the way for faster code reuse, improved machine efficiency, reduced costs and increases in the overall agility and maintainability of applications.

In short, this new foundation will look at open source at the orchestration level. By defining API's and standards through a code-first approach, its founders hope to advance container-packaged application infrastructure. To do this, they will work with the Open Container Project on its container image specification. Its primary focus, however will be on orchestration and not the image specification. It will also seek to assemble components to address a comprehensive set of container application infrastructure needs.

This is an enormous job and the group has just started. The Foundation will include a Technical Oversight Committee and an End User Advisory board to ensure alignment of needs between the technical and end-user communities.

Why would anyone want to go to this kind of trouble? It will pay off in the long run.

As Toby Ford, assistant VP of AT&T's Cloud Technology, Architecture and Planning, said in a statement, "AT&T sees tremendous value in these initiatives We are very interested in helping to shape the container standards and architecture of the next-generation ecosystem that will deliver on the promise of cloud-enabled software. We are fully committed to this technology direction, as demonstrated by our Domain 2.0 initiative to migrate 75 percent of our targeted network onto a software defined network (SDN) directed cloud."

The CNCF, by writing working code instead of having endless, acrimonious standard debates, is headed in the right direction.

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