Earlier this month, Craig McLuckie, the co-founder of the Kubernetes project during his time at Google and now the VP of R&D at VMware (after selling his startup Heptio to the company), was named the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cloud Foundry Foundation.
He succeeds VMware’s Paul Fazzone, who was named chairman in April 2020. Since 2020, though, the Cloud Foundry Foundation went through an additional leadership change, with executive director Chip Childers leaving his post in August and not backfilling the executive director position. Instead, the foundation decided to put more emphasis on its newly formed technical oversight committee and board of directors, which means McLuckie is the closest to the earlier executive director role the foundation currently has.
Now, even though he was instrumental in launching the CNCF and donating Kubernetes to it, McLuckie hadn’t been all that active in the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. Both foundations fall under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation, though, so there’s some immediate overlap there. In addition, since Cloud Foundry’s story in recent years was quite closely linked with its move to Kubernetes as part of its core infrastructure — and the idea of buildpacks that originated from the Cloud Foundry ecosystem started to influence the Kubernetes ecosystem — there was always a lot of interplay between the different communities. Add to that VMware’s acquisition of Pivotal and you have a lot of links between the different groups.
As McLuckie told me, about six months ago, he started thinking more about the role he could play in the Cloud Foundry ecosystem and the gears were set in motion.
“As VMware acquired Pivotal, I saw an opportunity to really look at what had been built in the Cloud Foundry ecosystem, which in some ways was really an anchor technology for the ideation of a lot of cloud-native patterns,” he said. “It was a technology that predated Kubernetes, it had a very specific opinion about how to deal with application construction, orchestration and delivery. And it’s been a fascinating opportunity through the acquisition of Pivotal to get closer to a community, which in many ways started a lot of the cloud-native patents, which really, really embraced the idea of sort of container-packaged delivery, which created an abstraction that enabled developers to go from their IDE to a production environment in a very controlled way.”
The journey now, he said, is about bringing these two technologies together: To look at what made Cloud Foundry’s developer experience successful and to look at what Kubernetes can offer as an abstraction on infrastructure. It’s maybe no surprise, then, that one of the first new projects to come out of the foundation now will be a beta of a new Cloud Foundry experience on Kubernetes in the first quarter of 2022. Some vendors previously had their own take on this, but with this new project, a number of organizations like VMware, SAP and IBM came together to converge on a path forward.
“At the end of the day, not all developers are invested in spending their evenings on Hacker News and playing with all sort of technologies,” McLuckie said. “There’s a lot of folks that just want to go home, and drink a beer and watch YouTube. Cloud Foundry creates a lot of very simple, accessible experiences and offloads a lot of the operating headaches associated with running applications in production. Now we’re offering up an opportunity to really enable them to preserve that experience but deliver an abstraction which is emerging as that standard for multi-cloud destinations.”
But what’s maybe even more important than these individual projects is that the organization is going through a more radical transformation, one that started about a year ago, from a more vendor-driven group to one that makes it easier for individual developers to contribute to the ecosystem without having to go through all of the ritual and ceremony that was previously necessary before becoming an open source committer.
“We’ve seen Cloud Foundry go from a foundation which was really primarily driving the commercial interests of organizations that were building sort of specific products around the Cloud Foundry technology base. And as with any foundation, there’s always going to be a sort of tensions between vendors,” he explained. But going forward, the Foundation is looking to focus on three things: support the contributor community, whether they work for a vendor or not; provide better support for end-users who consume the open source version of Cloud Foundry; and work with the ecosystem to help vendors work together and collaborate on the ideation and evolution of many of the cloud-native technologies (like buildpacks) that came out of the Cloud Foundry ecosystem.
“It really does represent a new kind of epoch of looking at the evolution of this technology and just authentically looking to take care of both the organizations that are consuming it and the committers that are contributing to it in an open and fair way,” said McLuckie.