With the cloud software industry advancing on a selection of Software Defined Infrastructure ‘stacks’ to support enterprise data centers, the question of application portability comes squarely into focus. A new ‘style’ of application development has started to gather momentum in both the Public Cloud, as well as Private Cloud. Cloud native applications, as this new style has been named, are those applications that are container packaged, dynamically scheduled, and microservices oriented. They are rapidly gaining favor for their improved efficiency and agility as compared to more traditional monolithic data center applications.
However, creating a cloud native application, does not eliminate the dependencies on traditional data center services. Foundational services such as networking, storage, automation, and of course, compute are all still very much required. In fact, since the concept of a full virtual machine may not be present in a cloud native application, these applications rely significantly on their infrastructure software to provide the right components. When done well, a ‘Cloud Native Application’ SDI stack can provide efficiency and agility previously only seen in a few hyperscale environments.
Another key aspect of the Cloud Native Application, is that it should be highly portable. This portability between environments is a massive productivity gain for both developers and operators. An application developer wants the ability to package an application component once, and have it be reusable across all clouds, both public and private. A cloud operator wants the freedom to position portions of their application where it makes the most sense. That location may be on their private cloud, or on their public cloud partner. Cloud Native Applications are the next step in true hybrid cloud usage.
So, with this promise of efficiency, operational agility, and portability, where do data center managers seek the definitions for how the industry will address movement of apps between stacks? How can one deploy a cloud native app and ensure it can be moved across clouds and SDI stacks without issue? Without a firm answer, can one really develop cloud native apps with the confidence that portability will not be limited to those environments running identical SDI stacks? These are the type of questions that often stall organizational innovation and is the reason why Intel has joined with other cloud leaders in the formation of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
Announced this week at the first ever KuberCon event, the CNCF has been chartered to provide guidance, operational patterns, standards and over time , APIs, to ensure container based SDI stacks are both interoperable, and optimized for a seamless, performant developer experience. The CNCF will work with the recently formed Open Container Initiative (OCI) towards a synergistic goal of addressing the full scope of container standards and the supporting services needed for success.
Why announce this at KuberCon? The goal of the CNCF is to foster innovation in the community around these application models. The best way to speed innovation is to start with some seed technologies. Much the same way it is easier to start writing (a blog perhaps?) when you have a few sentences on screen, rather than staring at a blank page, the CNCF is starting with some seed technologies. Kubernetes, having just passed its 1.0 release, will be one of the first technologies used to kick start this effort. Many more technologies, and even full stacks, will follow, with a goal of several ‘reference’ SDI platforms that support the portability required.
What is Intel’s role here? Based on our decades of experience helping lead industry innovation and standardization across computing hardware and open source software domains, we are firmly committed to the CNCF goals and plan to actively participate in the leadership body and Technical Oversight Committee of the Foundation. This effort is reflective of our broader commitment to working with the industry to accelerate the broad use of cloud computing through delivery of optimized, easy to consume, operate, and feature complete SDI stacks. This engagement complements our existing leadership roles in the OCI, the OpenStack Foundation, Cloud Foundry Foundation as well as our existing work driving solutions with the SDI platform ecosystem.
With the cloud software industry accelerating its pace of innovation, please stay tuned for more details on Intel’s broad engagement in this space. To deepen your engagement with Intel, I invite you to join us at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco to gain a broader perspective on Intel’s strategy for acceleration of cloud.