A report on the Cloud Foundry Summit North America 2019

To all the people who were not able to attend this years Cloud Foundry Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, you missed quite something. This years summit had several revelations to offer. First of all the Cloud Foundry Community is about people bringing these technologies to us. By that the community always focused on diversity and friendship. Cooperation even between direct competitors is making this community that great and produces the high velocity of the technologies developed by it. If you do question my words, look it up yourself in Chip Childers Keynote (in short notice available on Youtube).

Our release cycles sped up to the thousands in the last years. Steadily increasing the number of releases per year. But why am I talking about this? This years summit revealed a new aspect of our communities diversity: Poetry! I think all of you know our communities mantra. The Haiku:

Here is my source code

Run it on the cloud for me

I do not care how

During the summit I faced about 6 Haikus and one Shakespearian adoption of Romeo and Juliet. And one of the poems recited by Julian Friedman (you may  know him as Dr Julz) in his keynote was especially important to the conference and made him the most popular person. With his words:

In Central Philadelphia born and raised

In Kubernetes is where I spent most of my days

But now I’m chillin out max relaxin all cool

and “cf push”-ing some apps with a simplified tool

[Julian Friedman]

he officially announced the general availability of Project Eirini. Named after the Greek goddess of peace and connection this project started one year ago to bring together the Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes Community by exchanging the container scheduling engine of Cloud Foundry with Kubernetes. One of the most frequently asked questions Cloud Foundry advocates were asked was ’Should I use Cloud Foundry or Kubernetes?’. They are always puzzled by the same answer they get from all of them “Use Cloud Foundry AND Kubernetes.” They try to solve different problems.’ And that’s why project Eirini is so important. It shows definitely that Kubernetes solves container scheduling but Cloud Foundry solves the need of developers to easily deploy their applications and keep up release velocity.

But let’s go back to the start of the conference. As always the conference started with the great unconference on Monday evening. To those of you who have never attended one before, you missed quite something. First beginning with light talks that did not quite fit in the official programme of the conference you switch over to open sessions. There the attendees decide on what to talk about. I think there is no better possibility to get a glimpse on the pulse of the community. It was an unconference I first heard of the idea to bring Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes more together. Way before project Eirini was even a thing, Julz presented his idea in one of the discussions.

And do not forget the legendary pub quizzes at the end of the unconferences. At this point I want to give a special thank to my pub quiz team. Without you I wouldn’t have known that special connection of motorcycles and boy groups with Cloud Foundry or what Chips real first name is ;-).

Tuesday was, like always, focused on special events on-site: developer certifications, users day and training courses this year were accompanied by the first Contributors Summit for contributors to Cloud Foundry or those who want to start with it.As always Hackathon was my personal favorite on Tuesday. One day time to deliver an extension of the Cloud Foundry ecosystem with a team of different companies. This year I teamed up like at last year’s summit in Basel with my friend Benjamin Gandon from Gstack. Starting with a rough idea brought up by Julz on unconference that CI/CD should feel as easy as cf push, we tried to figure out how this could happen for real and started developing a first version of it. And what should I say: We got something promising started in the short time,  we really could improve the developers experience in future and won the hackathon second time in a row. But more about that in my upcoming blog post about how to win a hackathon.

On Tuesday afternoon the main programme started with the first keynotes. To summarize them: the community grows and grows. The environments get bigger, more and more complex. If you think your Cloud Environment is big, check with the numbers of SAP. Their internal cloud was announced to consist of 26.000 vCPUs, 86.000GB RAM, supporting 20.500 developers and running their apps. Not included is their public cloud with 10 worldwide distributed environments in these numbers. Environments like the ones of T-Mobile, T-Systems and many more hit these sizes, too. So we are seeing the CF push experience reach more and more developers and by that reaching so much traction. The benefits get more and more obvious to outsiders. These numbers show that Cloud Foundry is not about containers but about helping developers to fasten their development. That is why these big companies spread their environments to more and more developers because they are able to accelerate their business with it. Or did you know that sky brings sport and films to your living room using Cloud Foundry?

On Wednesday we had the first round of breakout sessions. Two things were the most addressed topics in it.
1. How can we run platforms at these big scales effectively?
What made the discussion special was the will of people from different and unrelated companies to combine their knowledge on running big infrastructures to improve their skills.
2. The other big topic was the question regarding the communities haiku: How could we improve the platforms usability to developers? Technology is not important but the developers UX is! That is why Eirini is that important for the community. It shows that Cloud Foundry is not the Diego runtime but its ability to address the needs of a developer. This helped to reduce the buzz about Kubernetes on the CF Summit – like seen at Basel Summit last year – and focus on the important topics to Cloud Foundry. Because Kubernetes is no competitor to Cloud Foundry but an extension and a  tool to achieve its goals. Thursday started with the keynotes and by that with the announcement of the winners of this summits hackathon. We were happy to hear that Benjamin and I had won and were called to the keynote stage. We donated our price in equal parts (50 : 50)  to the German Red Cross (https://www.drk.de) and the french charity AJC (https://www.ajc-violence.org/). Later on we were happy to learn why we had won. Our approach to show how the developers work could be simplified and thereby the Cloud Foundry platform extended to ease the work on CI/CD in combination with Cloud Foundry was named very promising by the judges of the contest. They encouraged us to follow up on our PoC work and investigate the topic further. Now we are hoping to establish a new community project to evolve Cloud Foundry beyond its todays boundaries.

One last topic I want to point out is the new ‘Getting started track’ on this foundry. I was happy to speak in a track that I have promoted for years because I felt it was missing. This summit we mentioned this track for the first time . I was even happier to see most of the other Cloud Foundry ambassadors giving talks in this particular track, showing our commitment to the title and helping new people to get started with Cloud Foundry. Hopefully we can make it to an institution on all upcoming summits. In case you missed my talk on getting started with service brokers, it will be available on the Cloud Foundry Foundations youtube channel in the next days along with all the other talks. If you are especially interested in learning how to develop a service broker, wait for my upcoming blog series on it in this blog. If you think about participating the next Cloud Foundry summit, then do not forget to join unconference and hackathon. In case you do, do not miss my upcoming blog post on how to win a hackathon on Cloud Foundry summits which I was asked to do because it was my second win in a row and the third win in four tries.

Hopefully I will see you in The Hague later this year. Until then

Christian