With the launch of IBM Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment, the company is targeting enterprise developers in regulated industries. IBM Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment, in testing for now, will allow users to host applications in an isolated Cloud Foundry environment on top of Kubernetes clusters.
An open source platform-as-a-service, Cloud Foundry helps developers deploy and scale apps without manually configuring and managing servers. Having Kubernetes clusters and Cloud Foundry together in one place will give developers more control over where their workloads live, which is important for developers in highly-regulated industries like government and healthcare, IBM said in a release timed with Cloud Foundry Summit, which ran until Friday in Boston.
Simon Moser, IBM Bluemix Application Platform Lead Architect, wrote in a recent blog post that Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry “have some degree of overlap, but also are really complimentary in a bunch of key areas,” noting that the developer experience in Kubernetes is poor compared to Cloud Foundry. That may be a compelling enough reason for developers to try it out.
When the offering hits general availability in the third quarter, enterprises will be able to place a Cloud Foundry workload onto Kubernetes clusters in any of the geographies with an IBM data center, Don Boulia, general manager, IBM Cloud Platform, said. In addition to his role at IBM, Boulia serves on the board of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, which was formed in 2015 to drive adoption and support growth of the open source project.
“The interesting thing is we have and continue to have support for Cloud Foundry on the [IBM] cloud,” Boulia said. “We’ve delivered it in the past on the public cloud as a multi-tenant service available in only a few regions, so what this allows us to do is target on a much wider variety of regions around the world and provide the capability to have things isolated in single tenant.”
In working almost exclusively with enterprises who use IBM cloud services, Boulia said IBM has identified several main barriers to broader public cloud adoption: security, control over placing workloads in specific geographies, and the need for isolation at both the network and compute level, all of which this offering aims to address.
“That’s the design point that we’ve used for our container service based on Kubernetes. You can place it in each geography, you can isolate it, you can choose to dedicate it, and we’ve had a lot of success with that and adoption of containers in that kind of model,” Boulia said. “What we’ve been doing over the last 12 months or so is starting to move other workloads into that model and on top of the container service when appropriate. Our Watson services are a good example of what runs in that model already.”
While Cloud Foundry can be run on VMs, developers have been gravitating towards containers for Cloud Foundry workloads since they can standardize on top of containers as a baseline for their cloud workloads in general, Boulia said.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth on the container side and I think the reason people are gravitating towards containers in general is that they can handle a variety of workloads,” he said. “Everything from simple lift-and-shift of existing and even non-cloud workloads that you’re moving to a container environment, so-called containerizing of an application that maybe already exists.”
Boulia said that Cloud Foundry user data shows that in addition to mixed environments where legacy applications are containerized, there are also many new environments with cloud-native apps.
This data helps Cloud Foundry understand developer trends in the cloud, and how different trends drive the kinds of capabilities needed from its cloud platform, he said. Among the latest trends are microservices, DevOps, edge computing, as well as machine learning and AI, which IBM can meet with its Watson APIs.
Based on its most recent user survey, 61 percent of all Cloud Foundry users are large enterprises with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. This suggests strong synergy with IBM customers.
“This User Survey further proves that Cloud Foundry is the engine used by enterprises of all kinds to transform, build and deploy cloud-native apps at scale,” Abby Kearns, Executive Director, Cloud Foundry Foundation said in a statement. “This growth in usage across every major industry indicates these businesses are counting on Cloud Foundry to drive their transformation to the 21st century.”
IBM expects to learn more through the Alpha and Beta periods for its IBM Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment before it rolls out the offering in general availability.
“What we’re looking for is making sure that the key tenants of what we’re providing with Cloud Foundry on Kubernetes make sense and resonate with enterprise customers,” Boulia said.
Offerings that extend IBM cloud services further into the enterprise and get them into the hands of new customers will be necessary to drive revenue, which slowed down in the first quarter. In its recent earnings, IBM cloud revenue grew 14 percent, lower than the 2017 average of 24 percent, per Bloomberg.