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Cloud Foundry: Do-it-yourself platform as a service

You can certainly run a platform as a service (PaaS) cloud on one of the major public clouds. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure has the self-explanatory Azure PaaS, Google Cloud has Google App Engine, etc., etc. But did you know you can also run your own private — or hybrid or public — cloud with the open-source Cloud Foundry?

The platform is quickly becoming a not-so-well-kept secret. When I looked at Cloud Foundry in 2016 it was already a mature, flexible PaaS cloud. In the two years since then, it’s only gotten better.

I checked in with it again at Cloud Foundry Summit in Basel, Switzerland last month. Abby Kearns, Cloud Foundry’s executive director, said in her keynote that half of Fortune 500 companies are deploying Cloud Foundry.

Why? Because companies are finding that Cloud Foundry is simple to implement and can quickly lead to better business efficiencies.

Volkswagen (VW), Cloud Foundry’s poster child success story, moved its app development capabilities in house and expanded its suite of applications across all brands in two years. For VW, a senior staffer confided to the audience, the ease with which Cloud Foundry could be put up and then put into productive work was a big selling point. He said VW previously tried OpenStack, and found it far too complex for its needs.

Boeing, a company known for its aircraft innovation, but not for its rapid rate of IT transformation, has embraced Cloud Foundry. Enes Yildirim, Boeing’s Global Head of Digital Transformation, adopted it because it enabled the aircraft manufacturer to make “our technology abundantly easier to use … [it] helped us move from the initial conversations to focus on the business and enabling delivery, and velocity.”

And, how fast was this velocity? “It was achieved in the first 80 days, with a DevOps tool chain, and we can now develop and code as and when we need it,” Yildirim told the summit. “We went from 0 users to 2,000 users, with 1,000 production applications. That’s scale.”

Other companies may also find Cloud Foundry interesting. Cloud Foundry recently adopted Kubernetes as an alternative container-clustering platform to its cloud-agnostic homebrew BOSH. This means you can use Cloud Foundry on even more cloud platforms than ever before.

Cloud Foundry is also experimenting with giving operators more choice through its incubator Project Erini. Erini enables pluggable scheduling for the Cloud Foundry Application Runtime (CFAR). Specifically, Eirini allows operators to choose whether CFAR should use Diego, CFAR’s default scheduler, or Kubernetes to orchestrate application container instances. The goal is to let you reuse an existing Kubernetes cluster infrastructure to host applications deployed by CFAR.

Erini is quite mature for such a young project. I wouldn’t try it in production yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s prime-time ready by early 2019.

If the idea of using a PaaS — which lets you use Java, Ruby, Node.js, .NET Core, Python, PHP, or Go in your cloud-ready programs — is attractive, consider Cloud Foundry.

In addition, while you can run Cloud Foundry in the friendly confines of your own data center, you can also run it on top of pretty much any of the public clouds. It’s a PaaS for all cloud configurations. If you need a PaaS, give it a try. I think you’ll be impressed.