Well it’s nearly a week since the announcement of VMware’s new Cloud Foundry service. The problems that Cloud Foundry is looking to solve are something that I have touched on briefly before. The technologies behind this PaaS are very much foreign and strange to those from a typical infrastructure background, but times are changing… we either adjust or get left behind.
My perspective on this is a bit unique, although becoming a bit more common lately. I come from a background of not only technical support, but software support as well as SDK support, back when I was in the states. Since moving to Japan I seem to get involved with the “DevOps” duties and have done so at my current and previous positions over here. I have a good understanding for the developer methodology back to my college days and the computer science courses I took there.
That served as the basis for how I approached dealing with professional services consultants when I worked as an SDK support analyst. I got the chance to help developers troubleshoot their code and saw the hoops that they needed to jump through in order to work around bugs or develop non-existent functionality.
Fast forward to about 5-6 years ago working as a system administrator. I worked very closely with our much larger development team setting up version control, release management systems, and deploying servers with web frameworks to host code for application servers. And now at my current position, I use the experience I have had to help our developers deploy their projects more easily.
I mean as an administrator, this is not a headache that you want to have with everything else that can and does go wrong with the rest of the infrastructure. Happy developers = happy sys admins
What Cloud Foundry Is
Cloud Foundry is just another form of abstraction. We virtualization enthusiasts are very familiar with this terminology. We have been living with abstraction to the logical conclusion of IaaS in our world. Another layer of the modern IT stack is these new PaaS offerings. I actually could see this sort of offering as a potential outcome as soon as I was able to absorb the acquisition of SpringSource 1.5 years back. I remember having conversations with other bloggers about 6 months ago, contemplating how soon it would be before VMware would allow you to deploy code for application servers without caring about the underlying infrastructure.
I am not a web developer by any stretch, but I will say, I dabbled a bit a long time back. I do know developers and what they have to deal with everyday. I know that they want to code and design, not deal with infrastructure. It’s very rare that you find a developer that cares about infrastructure even in the slightest bit; it takes time away from their creative process.
That said, anything that can ease their path to release code more quickly and iterate more frequently and safely, is a win-win for both them and the infrastructure architects and administrators that support them and maintain their servers.
What Cloud Foundry is NOT
Cloud Foundry is not a replacement for IaaS or the architects and administrators thereof. It is not a replacement for all the private web and application servers that you have at your organization. Nor is it a platform that developers will move all projects to overnight. Cloud Foundry and other offerings that will come along to compete with it are also not a fad, just like cloud itself is not a fad… it is however a glimpse into one facet of the future of IT in the cloud era.
As you can see the lines between virtual and physical are graying just as are the lines between application servers and application frameworks and classic web frameworks and cloud frameworks. This is an opportunity for infrastructure specialists to further branch out and add value to their organizations, not a time to worry about getting left behind just doing basic infrastructure administration, but more architecting business solutions for IT problems.
Cloud Foundry is an example of an initiative that will get you more praise from the business side as well as from the development side of the house. This is a huge step in the evolution toward ITaaS or *aaS that is coming. Question is whether you maintain the status quo, or be part of the revolution…
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