We attended the European Cloud Foundry Summit in Frankfurt in early October. Cloud Foundry is building on some substantial momentum and we had the opportunity to speak with members of the foundation, cloud foundry customers and developers across the wider ecosystem.
The foundation itself continues to grow, now numbering 65 members, including 17 new members in 2016. At the summit it was announced that QIO, Comcast, Acetti, Hexad and Bosch were joining the foundation. On the code front the number of overall contributors continues to increase, as those the overall velocity of the project. Across companies committing code to Cloud Foundry there are now over 100 full time dedicated committers.
After the last summit we highlighted the need to acknowledge what went before, and the breadth and depth of enterprise IT spend. There has been a definite evolution in the messaging since the last summit, in particular Cloud Foundry Foundation CEO Sam Ramji noted that Cloud Foundry will, for most enterprises, always be part of a wider IT strategy and that the ramp up can take between 18 and 24 months.
There are some strong positives in the message, in particular acknowledging that Cloud Foundry needs to find its place within a company, generally as part of a wider cultural change, and then grow its footprint as part of a wider strategy.
A number of enterprises joined us for a question and answer session during the analyst portion of the summit. As you would expect themes of cultural change and so forth came through from almost all of the participants as did the need for commercial partnerships in many cases. Volkswagen for example used their relationship with Pivotal to create an external starting point and then bring the overall methodology and approach back into their organisation.
Volkswagen also illustrated one of the more profound changes that enterprise IT is currently undergoing. Their IT procurement policy is opensource first. They will evaluate proprietary and commercial opensource offerings, and if all things being equal they will choose the opensource option. This approach does not discount the proprietary offering, but it is a sea change in attitude.
New Applications and the Database Market
We raised the question of both persistent storage and where data is ultimately being written too with the enterprise panel. The answers here were both interesting and telling for the future of the database market in particular. Every company had multiple “legacy” systems, with Oracle and SAP being mentioned most often. Understanding how to access and use older data stores in a consistent manner is a problem many are struggling with, and tools such as the CloudSoft Service Broker are emerging to deal with this issue.
However, when it came to new applications, the databases mentioned widened considerably to include MongoDB, MariaDB, MySQL, Postgres and others. This will hardly come as a surprise to developers, but it is still an area enterprises are coming to terms with.
— Fintan Ryan (@fintanr) September 27, 2016
As we pointed out recently, changing the direction of travel for Government IT is a slow, and at times very laborious, process. However, it is a process that is ongoing across the globe, as civil servants become far more aware of what is possible when operating in a more agile manner and expectations of citizens on the quality of the digital services provided continues to grow.
In the old model of government IT development and implementation was outsourced. This model is slowly changing and governments around the globe are rebuilding in-house teams of skilled developers, product owners and DevOps professionals. Cloud Foundry has hit a definite sweet spot in this space. It provides more than enough abstraction for developers to focus on the customer outcome of their app rather than the underlying plumbing, but has the ability to scale with user demand.
What is of far more importance though, is the emerging conversation and exchange of ideas and learnings that a common platform and language permits. As we see groups such as the Digital 5 emerge we can expect to see digital teams in governments around the world looking towards Cloud Foundry as a potential platform. In this vein, the talk given by Liam Maxwell, National Technology Advisor for the UK Government, is well worth watching.
Cloud Foundry and the Internet of Things
As we noted after the last Cloud Foundry summit, the Internet of Things is proving to be one of the most important use cases for Cloud Foundry. The foundation is directly investing resources into this area with their Industrial IoT user group. Talking with participants in this user group, they all noted that they are learning from, and sharing knowledge with each other, and in turn bringing this knowledge back to their respective businesses.
Among the more interesting conversations we had during the summit was a conversation with Mike Milinkovich of the Eclipse Foundation. More importantly there is a willingness, indeed even a need, for both foundations to work together. The work of the two foundations around IoT is very complimentary, and it is easy to see how a full story from device to data centre can be brought together.
With companies such as Bosch, GE and Honeywell contributing code to Eclipse, and also working on and with Cloud Foundry the opportunities for partnership are both broad and exciting.
The Wider Community
During the summit the foundation took time to highlight the growth in local meetup groups. While our own research comes in slightly lower than those stated by the foundation, we still see in excess of 50,000 meetup members across 180 meetup groups. Now it should be noted that a number of these meetup groups are not exclusively focused on Cloud Foundry, rather than have identified themselves on meetup.com with a cloud foundry tag.
Even with these caveats, the geographic distribution is impressive. The Cloud Foundry Foundation are actively supporting meetup groups, through sponsorship and funding of travel for speakers.
All of this said, the pace of growth for Cloud Foundry in Europe is still lagging a bit behind that of North America. However, with large automotive and industrial players such as Volkswagen, Bosch and Siemens becoming more heavily involved we can expect to see the pace of growth in the wider European ecosystem increasing.
There is a lot of positive momentum around Cloud Foundry. Vendors such as IBM, HPE, Pivotal and SAP are all reporting successful customer projects, albeit many of these are still in their early stages. What remains to be seen is how this early momentum will translate into longer term projects – but all the signs are positive with some high profile reference-able examples such as Allstate, QIO and Bloomberg.
From a European context the two largest drivers of growth we are currently seeing are IoT and Government, and if anything we expect growth in both of these areas to accelerate.
Disclaimers: The Cloud Foundry Foundation covered my T&E. The Cloud Foundry Foundation, IBM, HPE, Pivotal, SAP, CloudSoft, Oracle, MongoDB, MariaDB and the Eclipse Foundation are current RedMonk clients.