All Things Pivotal Podcast–Chip Childers and the Cloud Foundry Foundation

April 21, 2015 Coté

featured-pivotal-podcastWhile at ApacheCon 2015 in Austin, I talked with Chip Childers of the Cloud Foundry Foundation. We first discuss his career in IT from SunGard to CloudStack, and then what he does at the Cloud Foundry Foundation. Once into the Foundation part of his life, we discuss what exactly it is the Foundation does.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Coté:
Well, first of all, they set you up with a nice room here. What do you think of this view? Have you been taking it all in?

Chip Childers:
No, we’re at a conference.

Coté:
That’s right. We’re here in Austin at ApacheCon and it is … I don’t know if I’ve ever really seen this view, this lowdown. I remember I went to an event at the top of this hotel. We’re at the Hyatt on the other side of the river.

Chip Childers:
With a nice view of the bat bridge.

Coté:
Yeah, exactly. That’s a good point.

Chip Childers:
That is the bat bridge. Every night, if you look out there, people are packed.

Coté:
I always think that has to be the best Radisson in the world. When I think Radisson, I don’t always think-

Chip Childers:
Oh hey, let’s not get into-

Coté:
I’m just saying that is a really well located Radisson. I’ve actually stayed there and that is a nice place. This Radisson is right on the corner of Congress and First Street. It’s right downtown, right on the river. The reason I like this it’s right next door to the Four Seasons. If you have a lot of money, that’s a great hotel. You can stay very affordably in the Radisson. You’re very set.

It’s great that ApacheCon is in Austin this year. That means we’ve been hanging out at … We’ve got a Cloud Foundry booth and a Pivotal booth.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, yeah.

Coté:
Why don’t you introduce yourself and explain why you’re here.

Chip Childers:
All right, sounds good. I’m Chip Childers. I work for the Cloud Foundry Foundation. I work for Sam Ramji there. We’re here because we’re sponsoring the ApacheCon event. Largely because Cloud Foundry actually relies on so many Apache technologies that it was just good community for us to make sure that we supported this event.

We have direct dependencies on a lot of the technology but we also have a lot in the commercialized versions of Cloud Foundry like the Pivotal Cloud Foundry product, there’s deep links into the Hadoop and the big data space. There’s ways to integrate with Cassandra, DataStax. Cloud Foundry’s success actually is building a lot on Apache products, which means we wanted to support it.

Coté:
Yeah, like most of the software world.

Chip Childers:
Like most of the software world, absolutely and if not most of the world today.

Coté:
Yeah, yeah and you’ve been associated with the ASF for a long time, right?

Chip Childers:
For a little bit, yeah. A few years at this point. I’m a member of the foundation and I came into it actually as a user of CloudStack as CloudStack was coming into the ASF. It was being proposed. About a month later, I actually started engaging with the community as a user of it and went through that journey of watching it become a top-level project from the whole incubation process.

I was actually the first vice president of the project here at the ASF and then I became a member as well. Yeah, a little bit of experience there.

Coté:
Where were you a user of it? Is that when you were at SunGard?

Chip Childers:
It is, yeah. SunGard at the time was deploying CloudStack. They still are, I believe but we were deploying it across Europe, across a number of data centers in North America. SunGard wasn’t going for a commodity style play. The type of users that they were dealing with were enterprises with I would say the virtualization plus style applications. Whatever the right term is for them but it’s not cloud native applications.

It’s apps that are happily virtualized and so CloudStack was really more about creating a cloud enabled service versus … Cloud technology enabled service. What do you call it, Cote? There’s a term for … It’s not sign up online with a credit card but you’re using the technology to basically simplify the operation. It’s almost like a private cloud.

Coté:
I think our friends to the south down in San Antonio would like to call that managed cloud.

Chip Childers:
Oh, yeah. That’s the new way to describe it.

Coté:
It’s a good concise word with manage in it, feels good.

Chip Childers:
Absolutely. That’s where the revenue is.

Coté:
You were at SunGard for a long time.

Chip Childers:
Over a decade, yeah.

Coté:
I was looking at your LinkedIn profile and I thought, oh, I found how you should summarize my old job. I think your first job you had listed was learn how to code.

Chip Childers:
Yes.

Coté:
Learn how to code professionally.

Chip Childers:
Learn how to code professionally.

Coté:
I need to go back and consolidate all of my stuff to just that.

Chip Childers:
Yeah. First job was right at the … Dot com bubble was launching but that was learning how to code professionally which was very different than what I was doing when my grandmother sent me the old Texas Instruments 994A. You type in the basic program from the book.

Coté:
If I turn it upside down it spells words.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, it’s wonderful. This is the computer, not the calculator. It’s the one you plug in to the TV and you had the UHF kind of switch thing.

Coté:
Sure.

Chip Childers:
That was hobby development and then first job learned how to program professionally, was at an interactive agency. Web marketing at the time and spent a lot of time working with the financial services industry so did a bunch of apps for Merrill Lynch, worked with Nationwide Insurance actually on channel convergence strategy, analytic strategy.

During that period, the insurance companies were moving from what … They had a two-channel model which was the agencies, agents and then they had the call center. To them that was manageable for a while and then all of the sudden oh, now you’re going to do e-business, back when we had ‘e’ attached to everything. It became a three-channel model and wow, now there’s opportunity for a ton of data. This is I guess late ’90s or early 2000’s.

They were starting to explore the problem of how do you aggregate across multiple channels and make sense of the customer relationship across the-

Coté:
Yeah, that would be a headache.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, absolutely. Especially with the technology available then versus today.

Coté:
Back in the era of three and a half inch disks.

Chip Childers:
Well, it was a little bit later than that. We had the internet.

Coté:
I guess you could burn the CDs back then. That was the biggest size you could fit in your hand.

Chip Childers:
Absolutely, we had those stacks of CDs.

Coté:
Was that 720 megs or something?

Chip Childers:
Yeah. Yeah, I did the interactive agency for about five years and then a decade at SunGard, got pulled in there to help them make the evolutionary step from outsourcing in a way that you really didn’t necessarily want to provide transparency because you were just hiding the mess to opening up and realizing that engagement in the customer was actually showing value. It’s okay to demonstrate what you’re doing behind the scenes.

Coté:
What does SunGard do? How would you explain them?

Chip Childers:
This is SunGard Availability Services. It was originally … It’s the original part of SunGard and there’s a long and winding, large company merger split off story so let’s just focus on SunGard AS. It was initially disaster recovery services. It actually invented the DR industry.

Coté:
Oh, right.

Chip Childers:
Now DR is evolving. However, the original version of that is, frankly, it’s logistics. It’s not so much about technology. It’s about making sure you have the right pieces of hardware in place and that the tapes show up at the right data center.

Coté:
And the data is there, synched up up and everything.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, and then executing a plan to bring everything back. Obviously, tech is evolving and the new world changes a lot of the way that business needs to work. The other part of SunGard AS came out of the mainframe outsourcing world because sure, they were doing a lot of recovery but then since we knew how to operate, they also started doing mainframe outsourcing.

That moved in to the mid range X86 and kind of build off to where it’s a hosting provider. It was a managed services provider as well. It’s roughly two lines of business that were the predominant lines of business there.

Coté:
Yeah, that makes sense. That’s why from the outside is one of those vague tech companies.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, yeah.

Coté:
With that portfolio it makes a lot of sense because it’s always easier conceptually to understand how you go from being basically an ISP to a managed host or to a whatever else, but I think going from a very … They’re not niche, but to specific enterprise things that are becoming like a managed hosting is—I don’t know. Anyway, that makes sense.

Chip Childers:
Today they’re still very focused on availability, right? It’s in their name.

Coté:
Yeah.

Chip Childers:
They’ve got strategies around how they do that in the new world. That’s what they’ve been working on but I’m not in touch with them.

Coté:
Yeah, sure.

Chip Childers:
Moved on, right?

Coté:
What did you do after that?

Chip Childers:
I spent one year with a start-up called CumuLogic.

Coté:
Yeah, right.

Chip Childers:
CumuLogic, when I joined, it had sort of refined it’s vision from … Initially, it started as a Java PaaS and then it started to add a little bit of Polyglot, a couple of more languages into it. CumuLogic, what we had discovered was that there’s a lot of value in the services that are composable into a PaaS.

We get a lot of traction around specifically database as a service so it was a software package that you can install on-prem or for a hosting provider that added basically RDS style functionality through the portfolio.

Coté:
What did you work on while you were there?

Chip Childers:
Things, it’s the way I describe it. Actually, it’s going to be a wonderful answer today for Cloud Foundry because things, I do things because it’s really just do whatever. Technically, I was product strategy.

Coté:
Yeah, that’s an interesting thing that I see in the Pivotal Conversations I had is there is … I’d be curious to hear how this played out when you were at CumuLogic and nowadays now that you work in the Cloud Foundry world. There is this … I don’t think it’s a tension in a bad way but there is this interesting let’s see how this shakes out interplay between I want to get services up and running versus I want to get an application up and running. Turns out you need both of those, right?

Chip Childers:
Yes, surprise.

Coté:
If a database is running and there’s no application connected to it then it doesn’t actually exist. Do you feel a tree falling thing? Also, if there’s an application that has no services connected to it, it also is not interesting. It’s an interesting thing, that availability and basically providing all the kind of stuff that SunGard and other people does like service management versus applications have always been these very separate concerns that you have.

Chip Childers:
Yes.

Coté:
They tend to be separated whereas a lot of what we do in the Cloud Foundry world nowadays is trying to make these things less separate.

Chip Childers:
At the same time, be very cognizant architecturally of the different attributes of them.

Coté:
Exactly.

Chip Childers:
Persistent data needs … The way that you create the services that provide for persistence needs to be very thoughtful compared to the way that you deal with your last runtime layer. You have to be thoughtful about both. However, you need to sync them up and yet respect the differences between the two.

Coté:
Yeah, I know exactly. It’s almost like there’s a further having both sides understand each other better and work with each other. That seems to go on. Database services to me always is a fascinating thing because back when I programmed the database there’s always this mysterious entity that you could connect through magic incantations. You couldn’t really mess with it and it was all-

Chip Childers:
Back when we had to try to figure out how to configure the tnsnames file for work connectivity and stuff like that.

Coté:
Right, exactly. All that crazy stuff and then a lot of this stuff gets counter intuitive the more you talk about it, right? Not counter intuitive but it starts to contradict the ideas I start to have. You had database as a service, which means it’s easier for developers to just use it and start doing things and then the developers spend less time managing it. To developers it becomes even more of a black box.

Chip Childers:
It does.

Coté:
Instead of having to worry like you don’t worry about your TNS entry stuff. Don’t worry about anything but then on the other hand it’s almost like this Jevons paradox thing of because I don’t have to edit those damn TNS things all the time, now I use databases more, right?

Chip Childers:
Now all of the sudden you’re getting consistent experience because when it was ticket driven workflow with a DBA team hidden behind the tickets or hidden behind like a list that you never got a reply from. People are inconsistent in their implementation of things and so is a black box to you as a developer but frustratingly it was an inconsistent black box.

When you have a service model, then you’re going to get much more consistency out of what you’re expecting from it. Well defined API with well defined behavior on the back side so it makes it easier.

Coté:
Yeah, yeah. That’s a good way of framing it. That’s a lot of the promise of cloud platforms is … I like that phrase, a consistent black box.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, black box is okay, right? Abstractions matter, there’s a reason why we start abstracting things and now that we’re not just abstracting … We’re abstracting now more than just the building blocks of a language or the libraries. We’re abstracting operations now.

Coté:
Yeah, yeah and it’s also I think … Not to get too abstract but I think one of the things that pisses people off the most is surprises and inconsistency.

Chip Childers:
Absolutely.

Coté:
It’s annoying to be going about your everyday life whether it’s for whatever reason and something unexpected happens. Something unexpected happens that isn’t like a gift or you found $100 on the street. Unexpected fun stuff is great. I think they call it a bonus. Usually, unexpected is like something that you have to deal with and derailed what your plans are. Therefore, even in an IT situation, consistency is what you’re more interested in.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, nobody likes interrupt-driven development.

Coté:
Yeah, yeah.

Chip Childers:
You don’t want to be constantly interrupted by the next thing you bang your head against because wait, this worked last time. Why is it not working?

Coté:
You’re over there doing your fun service stuff. When did you come over to the Cloud Foundry Foundation?

Chip Childers:
The foundation was … The group of member companies have been working on it for about a year I think, about a year-ish. I know there were a number of announcements initially. However, in the end of January, the first formal transfer from the memorandums of understanding style of creating this foundation to now it’s really becoming a true, good, legal entity and the board voted itself in. Then they hired Sam.

I was sitting in that board meeting as an observer. That was literally my interview process, which I flew to San Francisco, showed up to this board meeting, quietly took some notes, went to dinner with Sam and Jim Zemlin, who runs the Linux Foundation. Spent the next day talking with them and flew back the next week. I started. It was a pretty quick transition but that was the rough timeline.

Coté:
You’re the chief of staff.

Chip Childers:
Yes.

Coté:
What does that mean?

Chip Childers:
We struggled with title because going back to what do I like to do. I like to do the things. Things that need to be done in order to go achieve some outcome. That’s my personality is to look at what the outcome is and I don’t really particularly care what work I have to do to help get us there. If we have … Others are going to go fill in a bunch of gaps that are necessary to achieve the outcome, great. I’ll find where they’re not being filled in and go do that work.

In practice, what it’s become with Sam is that clearly he’s running the foundation. We’re hiring. About the same time I started, we actually brought Mike Maney on. He’s running communications for us.

Coté:
Hopefully he wears a bathrobe constantly, with the giant cigar of his.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, fantastic Twitter picture, right?

Coté:
That’s right.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, Mike’s a great guy and we’re also bringing additional team members in as we go here. My focus is becoming a bit more clear and right now it’s about working with the member companies to drive development engagement in the project. To continue to build on the current investments that are happening with people.

It’s to take the Cloud Foundry Dojo program, work with Rob Mee to make sure that all the great experience he has with the pairing process can be applied to this collaboration across companies. That’s going to be a really fascinating process. No open source foundation has ever said that paired development is the preferred model for open source development across companies.

Coté:
Sure, I don’t think many organizations of any type have ever said that.

Chip Childers:
Even not across companies so even within a company.

Coté:
It’s true. Obviously, now in Pivotal and I see and breathe the Pivotal picture on pairing. Pairing always intellectually makes sense. It just seemed really hard from the outside but the benefits are … It makes sense.

Chip Childers:
Yeah.

Coté:
I remember the most recent … I think the way to motivate people to get over the hump is they have to … You’ve got to want the benefits of it, which it goes back to your SunGard stuff. A lot of it is about availability, of information and making sure people are synced. Basically, if you have this seeming duplication between two things in your system, you’re actually a lot more resilient in the overall system that you have than if you have just like a single node of …whether that’s a developer or whatever.

Chip Childers:
Systems way to think about the people and their interaction. Yeah, that’s true.

Coté:
It makes sure that the knowledge is synced up, things are occurring and I think ultimately speeds up your ability to develop because just like … I feel like it’s a way of getting higher throughput which … Yeah, to your point, it will be interesting to see how … No one ever calls what we do in our industry like trade groups or industry groups or whatever when it comes to foundations and things like that.

When a group of people come together in the tech industry and they’re, oh, let’s share the way we develop this common set of stuff to speak very broadly. Without understanding the pairing it would make sense that you would do pairing there too, right?

Chip Childers:
Well, we’re certainly going to make it successful and if others adopt it, that’s wonderful. There are going to be different approaches. We’re at Apache. There’s this concept called the Apache Way. This is the way you communicate. You do everything through consensus. That works exceptionally well for the projects that fit that model.

The Cloud Foundry is a project that operates in a different way. We’re evangelizing how that works. We’re teaching people how to engage. We’re spending a lot of time with the members like IBM, SAP, HP, EMC. They all want to contribute and are contributing. They want to contribute more so the work to be done is to make sure that their desires, what they want to actually focus on lines up with what the project needs.

To find those matches, and then allow the pairing to begin and then we get the result of that. It’s a very different model than here look, from out of the blue, here’s a poll request for some major new feature and it’s true the expectation is that yeah, you add it and everybody kind of gloms on to the code. You have to be very careful and thoughtful about specifically what directions a complex project like this is going to go in.

If you let it just simply be fully organic where anybody can attach any type of capability to it, it’s going to lose focus. It’s going to potentially be diluted and it could increase the complexity unnecessarily.

Coté:
There’s also bad scenarios where you could just dump a bunch of code as a way to distract people and waste time on debating it.

Chip Childers:
Absolutely. There are examples.

Coté:
Just again thinking of a systems approach stuff. You can always … Maybe I’ve been watching too much House of Cards but you can always inject stuff into the system just to slow the system down while you go do something.

Chip Childers:
That’s a known move. I’m not going to talk about examples of that but there are clear examples where industry players have done that in order to stall something that was either commoditizing their proprietary software or to stall enough so that they could get some other project or some other goal that they have ahead of-

Coté:
In this general area of how … Let me frame it this way. It seems like the challenge you and Sam and the other foundation people have is how do we get these competitors to help each other.

Chip Childers:
Absolutely. That’s exactly-

Coté:
How do we establish the system, the culture and the means of collaboration that allow them to beneficially help each other while they’re also trying to compete with each other.

Chip Childers:
That is exactly the crux of the problem. The way that we’re framing that is we’re thinking about this … It’s almost too small and too narrow of you to be talking about the code development process. For us, this is actually a question of creating a market, where everyone is going to be successful because we’re making Cloud Foundry ubiquitous. We’re making sure that applications have some level of portability across the distributions.

That type of perspective we believe is going to help drive a market and with a market you need liquidity. People need to be able to move through that market and that creates a lot of economic opportunity for a member. That’s kind of the way up there picture.

That’s primarily what Sam’s focused on is how do we create a market, bring these large players together for something that’s going to be the common good across all of them, give them opportunities for differentiation within the software in a very clear way. You know that this is how you’re going to differentiate and as a user I can choose to draw dependency on something that’s a differentiator in some distribution or I also have a very clear picture of what’s not differentiated and therefore what allows me to move if I want maybe from a hosted version to an on-prem version.

Coté:
When you’re thinking through this, what’s the timeline that you deal … Is this like a five-year thing or two years or ten years? In your sort of happy path, not overly like rosy, psychedelic scenario but just sort of normal, happy scenario?

Chip Childers:
We’re talking years but I guess it depends on what we’re concerned with.

Coté:
Let’s use an analogous thing. Let’s look at some other platforms. Other platforms, Windows was a successful platform that took a while. The Linux platform … We were talking about Tomcat earlier. That’s an interesting platform. You could blow Tomcat up into basically Java application servers as like a platform.

Chip Childers:
Container engines.

Coté:
Something like Ruby On Rails had a faster acceleration.

Chip Childers:
It did.

Coté:
You kind of rode off the coattails of the … Rode off the momentum of the LAMP stack and a bunch of stuff but that was an interesting platform. I think all of those minimum probably had a five-year ramp to normalcy. Even something like Rails was extremely popular at first but you didn’t start to get people really upset and complaining about it, which is an indication of well, it’s all the fiddly stuff that you have to deal with.

Chip Childers:
That’s where it gets real.

Coté:
Right, right. Especially there’s mainstream adoption where they’re not complaining about it because they want to stop using it, they’re like, “Oh, right. Well, you know if you do this, you got to put the grease over here and you put this thing here. Make sure you have the bike shorts that have padding and then you’re good to go.”

Chip Childers:
To answer the question is very difficult to tell if you-

Coté:
Sure, sure. I’ll give you a good out. Even if you don’t have an answer to it, how do you start to build up a model that you can start to figure out when the milestones are and when various things would happen?

Chip Childers:
That’s a great question. We’re still early on in formulating an overall plan. We’ve got a strategy that’s laid out. It’s mapped out about 12 months out and we have a vision for where we want it to go. The reality is we’re going to be adjusting the strategy as we learn new things and specifically, we expect to learn quite a bit because we’re attempting to run the foundation as … The way Sam describes it is I think very apt. It’s that we’re running the foundation as a start-up and perhaps the most well funded and highly leveraged start-up. It’s available.

We have all the resources of Pivotal and VMware and EMC, IBM, SAP. Everyone wants it to succeed and we also have the backing of the full Linux Foundation team behind us, which means we’ve got HR, IT, finance, marketing, comms, event management, fantastic teams there. The core Cloud Foundry Foundation staff can focus on how do we take advantage of all these capabilities that are surrounding.

We’re trying to operate like a start-up and we’re also trying to operate in a very metric-driven way. We’re in the process of getting the instrumentation out there that’s going to tell us not just the market numbers that we need but the contribution numbers that we need. The touch points that we’re achieving every time we go to a conference with sponsor. What’s our touch rate? We’re setting up the metrics collection that we need to then fuel decisions around the strategy to help navigate towards that’s vision that we’re after.

Coté:
Right, right. You got to build the cockpit before you fly things around.

Chip Childers:
That’s exactly right. We’ll have a worldwide perception survey that we’re going to put out.

Coté:
Do you have any early indications of what those things might be or … Even if you don’t know what the dials look like. The type of … You did kind of just list off a bunch of things but in going over that I was thinking, if you had this imaginary panel of open source community and foundation people from across all the various communities out there. I think they would all speak to this thing you’re talking about much differently.

How do you measure in an Aristotelian sort of term? How do you measure thriving? That’s ultimately a lot of what you want to measure with metrics is … From a business is how do I measure getting money from you but how we measure that things are going well.

Chip Childers:
We’re looking to actually hire an economist specifically because we are … The reason why I up level the conversation from talking about code contribution, which is critical because that’s the thing we’re all working on together but the outcome of that development work is that commercial market that we’re trying to create.

We’re going to have an economist in place who’s going to help us actually measure worldwide benefit of the software. That’s the way you interpret the data that we’re pulling in. We’ll have somebody that’s very smart about that type of thing to kind of throw a spike out there in the Pivotal terminology. One of the areas that we know that we start being much more is the wrong way to describe that because Cloud Foundry is very successful at this point.

We know that we’re headed down the right path as we start to see more ISVs actually target this platform. I’m going to give you … There are three examples. Mendix I think recent announcement to partner with Pivotal. They’re a decent example. EMCs Documentum team. The next version of Documentum deploys in Cloud Foundry. It’s designed to deploy in Cloud Foundry.

SAPs basing Hana on Cloud Foundry. These are big ISPs out there. We want to see that go from being a couple of early adopters in the ISP space to being a … It’s a very consistent expectation that enterprises should have, that the software providers are going to have a way for their-

Coté:
Yeah and that’s a good example because again, I was rattling off some past platforms and not all of them are like this but many of the platforms become successful because you can run software on them.

Chip Childers:
We’re doing something you can run software but I think what’s important is that-

Coté:
Specifically, that you can run ISV software on.

Chip Childers:
Yeah.

Coté:
That’s one of the major reasons Windows was successful and Linux. Your operating system type platforms versus framework platforms.

Chip Childers:
Developers in the enterprise are absolutely critical. They’re the ones creating the cloud native apps that are specific to line of business needs that are helping move the enterprise into the kind of continue innovation cycles that they need but if you step back and you look at their IT architecture, the operations team that is kind of an interesting position because what would be wonderful for them is a common application fabric other custom stuff to get rolled into.

All the packaged applications they’re buying get rolled into. Everything works well. It’s a consistent operational experience across them and they have some portability around which infrastructure they’re going to depend on.

Coté:
Yeah, that makes sense.

Chip Childers:
That’s a way … As we see that occur, that would be one indication that we’re headed for the real success that we’re looking for.

Coté:
Right, right. Following up on that, if you were to divide up the constituency of the foundations, one of them are ISVs who want to write their stuff to work in Cloud Foundry. I don’t know if it’s on or in or around or whatever. They want to use it and then who would you say the other constituency are?

Chip Childers:
Clearly, they’re the companies that are commercializing the software. Pivotal, IBM, HP, ActiveState, they’re either commercializing by providing it as a service. They’re commercializing it by providing it as a installable product, or they’re doing both. A lot of the development is coming from that constituency and then we have the users and there’s a lot of them involved in this foundation. That to me is incredibly attractive.

We’ve got … Some announcements will be coming up. Based on where we’re recording right now coming up shortly. Who knows when this gets posted, right? Financial services companies are very actively engaged and they’re engaged because they see the benefits. They may or may not be using a commercial product that’s based on Cloud Foundry but they see the technology useful. They want to get their particular use cases and industry-specific situations addressed.

They want a voice in making sure that that’s clearly in the road map. Financial services and the industrial internet working group is getting stood up. Obviously, GE is a big part of the Foundation and there are several others involved there as well. Healthcare is another area. These are all industries that we’re going to start to see.

As Cloud Foundry adoption continues to grow, it’s going to move industry by industry and then we’re going to work with the users within that industry to allow them to work together to create that collective place of practice. How do we use this as a commons? Make sense?

Coté:
Yeah, yeah. I guess to some extent service providers would fit in that second group. They were sort of like people who want it as a service.

Chip Childers:
Absolutely, they do. I’ll use Pivotal as the example. You’re both a service provider and you’re a product company. You do both. I can see that as direct commercialization.

Coté:
Looking at the third constituency, just a word I like to say. It’s fun, right? Lots of Ts and Cs in there.

Chip Childers:
Plus we’re ramping into a political season.

Coté:
That’s right.

Chip Childers:
You should just use constituency more frequently.

Coté:
I don’t know, tell me if you foresee this as different over the years but my perception has always been that the end user community, we’ll just call them that. The people who use the software haven’t, for whatever reason, I don’t know why, haven’t gotten as involved in the open source world as the other two constituencies. The sell side, the vendors.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, buy side, sell side.

Coté:
All the way back to the original rainbow and sandals guy himself. I think the vision of open source was end users being involved in controlling things and yet it hasn’t really happened. Again, I don’t know why but that’s the question. There’s two questions. One of them is, I’m not so concerned with why but more since you are the make work guy on things like how are you thinking about … How do you get them involved and make it so the end users can be more involved in writing code?

What are you guys in the foundation doing to make sure things are set up for them to be more and more involved because you’re right, I like to ask a lot of questions and keep talking but-

Chip Childers:
I have to write these things down.

Coté:
You’re right. One of the things that I really like about the Cloud Foundry Foundation is if you look at the big logo slide, there’s a bunch of end users on there, which is weird in a good way.

Chip Childers:
Very good way.

Coté:
I’m really curious how do you set up the structures and stuff in the foundation so that it encourages them to keep contributing and it ramps up the involvement because historically that’s been a hard nut to crack.

Chip Childers:
It’s a very hard nut to crack and I would say that we’re going to welcome any of the development contribution from the end users where they want to contribute but I’m not going to sit here with an expectation that I would place on them say you need to develop the software. If you take a look at it from an enterprise perspective, it’s an investment question.

If you’re directly deriving revenue from some technology, you have a good reason to invest in the creation and the continued development of that technology. You have dollars. You’re going to get more dollars from it. If you’re using it for competitive advantage but there’s not necessarily direct revenue, it’s a slightly harder sell to say let’s get 10, 20 developers engaged in this project.

Coté:
Yeah.

Chip Childers:
It’s a tough investment discussion. Instead, what I think is the most frequent approach and what we’re willing to engage with them in any way they want to engage but the most frequent approach that is happening is that these end user companies are engaging with us and saying, “I don’t want to talk about the needs that I have in a formal environment. I want to be able to collaborate with others in my industry.”

Coté:
It’s almost a product management discussion.

Chip Childers:
That’s exactly what it is. It’s exactly what it is. We’ll have industry working groups that we’re forming around each one of those industries. We’re going to be standing up a user council and each one of those besides the collaboration value, the specific outcome that’s going to flow upstream to the development teams and the project leads is going to be the product management result. What is it that they need to go achieve in this industry? What are the outcomes or anything forward, the struggles they’re having?

What are the good things? That needs to be reported back to the developers. Almost again, think about it as what’s the right thing to do if you’re just truly a close source product company. You engage with your customers. You do product management. You bring those requirements back. You prioritize across your whole portfolio of customers and prospects. It’s the exact same process that we’re trying to do but within a foundation.

Coté:
You’re walking through the scenarios of how does an end user pay, dedicate or to put it more crudely pay for resources to work on open source. It was making me think of-

Chip Childers:
If I said resources, let’s go edit that. People.

Coté:
Resources is a fun word.

Chip Childers:
I’ve walked out of meetings when I got called a resource.

Coté:
Oddly enough, the HR people. See now you’ve derailed me, good job. It was reminding me of … I’m always very cautious about applying anything to general life that Google or Apple does but there is this one mentality, which I don’t know if it’s true but you see Google do all these weird, inexplicable things that seem to make no business sense and one of the reasons that they do it.

Chip Childers:
Did Shafer text you or something to suggest that you mention that?

Coté:
No, no. One of the reasons that they … I always sound like I’m about to insult someone.

Chip Childers:
I wasn’t implying that Andrew is going to insult anybody.

Coté:
No, no. That would never happen. Anyway, one of the reasons that it gets explained is that, to understand Google’s business model, the more people that are using the web more often, the more money Google makes. IBM has a similar line that as GDP goes up, the IBM corporation as they say makes more money.

Chip Childers:
We have an example of that in the foundation, Intel. Intel’s using Cloud Foundry but in general they’re participating in a lot of different open source initiatives because it’s driving more demand for compute.

Coté:
There must be some fancy name if I had a PhD in business or economics I would know for what this is but it almost seems like it would be interesting to know if on the end user front, if they can understand and if that kind of strategy thinks for them. In the sense of … We’ll use a favorite example.

You’re like a payment processing company or you’re in banking and as it becomes easier to write applications that do more payments, you will just make more money. Your incentive to make sure that the environment is such that more applications tend to be written that make money change hands.

Chip Childers:
Absolutely, that’s a basic platform play.

Coté:
Right, exactly.

Chip Childers:
Platforms and platforms and platforms here.

Coté:
I think the shift that maybe happens with end users is, to make that argument about Linux or Tomcat or things like that, kind of makes sense but it’s not quite as to use a word at the wrong way you’re using the word. It’s not quite fluid and liquid as that whereas nowadays it’s freely more visible that you can directly start writing more applications that will affect your revenue.

Chip Childers:
Yes.

Coté:
Whereas in the past, just because you’re running on Linux servers doesn’t … It has all sorts of benefits but it’s not like exactly tied to revenue. Therefore, why would I assign people to work on Linux? Whereas now they’re growing an overall platform. I don’t know, it’s all bunk whatever but it has an interesting motivation to get enterprises.

Chip Childers:
It does and so I gave the keynote yesterday or gave the keynote here at ApacheCon yesterday and the basic message there, if we distill it is that, at a macro level, yeah, software is eating the world. We all know that. We can tease out the details or whether that’s for real.

What is happening is that technology is eliminating the opportunity for sustainable competitive advantage for years and years. They’ve been saying, the way to be successful, the thing you should focus on for your business strategy is to figure out what your sustainable competitive advantage is and then drive towards that because that’s how you’re going to win. We don’t say that anymore.

They’ve actually now declared that they don’t believe it’s possible.

Coté:
There was an HBR article that was nuclear disruptive technology. If you want to make yourself cry, go read that article. It basically … In other words, you must like that resources articulates what you were just saying.

Chip Childers:
Articulates is okay. At the end, it’s basically like what do you do about this.

Coté:
When he paints his picture … I think basically what it says is either acquire competitors or enter new industries. The answer of this column is give up.

Chip Childers:
We could always go Harvard against MIT here. MIT is-

Coté:
That baseball game.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, yeah. MBA wonks going at it on the field. What Sloan has been saying, they’ve shifted the discussion to how continuous innovation is in fact the only model that’s going to allow for growth and frankly sustainability of companies. You have to move into a continuous innovation world. If you go back to the question, that you were asking or the thought process you’re going through there.

It’s becoming increasingly more important for the platform to exist for continual innovation within your company. It’s starting to be much more tied to your ability to actually get revenue. You might not sell that platform but if you can’t do continuous innovation, it’s likely somebody that is your competitor is going to figure out how to do it and you’re going to end up in history books.

Coté:
Yeah. Hmm. I wonder if you reframe technology as a channel. If that would get through the non-techs. We started off talking about any insurance industry used to have … There is two channels. It was agents you talk face to face with and it was the call center. Yeah, then you have this other channel that’s the web. Now the first one arguably people aren’t technologies just depending on your ontological view of the world. But like, those other two are technologies. But they aren’t really technologies, but in this frame we are thinking of them ast technologies. And like a platform is like another channel that your business can think of to deliver things Platform is not so much it but this idea of a continuous learning thing facilitated by a platform. Becomes another way, another channel to run business through. I don’t know.

Chip Childers:
Just riffing off that. I think channel may be the wrong analogy, or the wrong way to think about. The problems is when you start talking about channels, silos form. It’s almost immediate. And then that company is busy trying to dig their way out of the silos they built. And figure out how they solve a problem.

Coté:
Then you call up a call center and they don’t have email and can’t send you a screenshot of anything.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, and have no idea that you’ve filled out a form online–that goes through a different team. So, when I think about it, the channels is really a vertical touchpoint. But the enabling continuous innovation is more of a horizontal capability. It allows the verticals to innovate. It allows them to collaborate. But its horizontal within the enterprise.

Coté:
Yeah, its something to think about. This is probably a topic for another time. I am starting to figure out where all the edges of comprehensibility. One of them is like, the Ops people don’t want to talk to me.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, which is a shame because what are the Cloud Foundry constituencies? Cloud Foundry is the developers, the operators, and the IT decision makers and buyers who are trying to be relevant..

Coté:
Exactly, and that’s just an example. Its funny, because the second one is a lot easier, at least in my experience in Ops people. The business people don’t know what to do with us. In the sense of, you want to talk with “the business” (I am putting this in air quotes) and have them start generating this pull of I want to use technology in the way you were just describing it as a horizontal cross cutting concern that enables blah blah blah. There is a way that technology can be use in whatever my business is. We can write some custom applications that do interesting new things.

My sense is that not all business people just think that. They don’t wake up in the morning thinking like how can I write some new software that would help run my business better.

Chip Childers:
No, because as it tends to happen, when a market starts to change around you, it’s typically, if you were very engagemed in that market, difficult to identify the its at change as its happening. That’s why they rely on the magazines from the academics.

Coté:
That’s an interesting thing is to think how to explain the … I guess we call it the value proposition.

Chip Childers:
It would in fact-the value proposition.

Coté:
To these various folks..

Chip Childers:
What’s the elevator pitch?

Coté:
Yeah, yeah absolutely.

Chip Childers:
The elevator pitch probably can’t be … You can no longer have sustainable competitive advantage anymore.

Coté:
Hopefully, it’s a tall building and you’re going to the top floor.

Chip Childers:
Yeah, absolutely.

Coté:
On that note, we’ll leave it with a mystery at the end. Where can people find you around the technologies, the internet.

Chip Childers:
On the Twitter, @ChipChilders and you can always reach me at Cloud Foundry so cchilders@cloudfoundry.org and in real life, Cloud Foundry Summit.

Coté:
Yeah, that’s next month, right?

Chip Childers:
We cannot close this podcast wihtout pitching it. You want to have everybody there, May 11th and 12th, Santa Clara. If you haven’t found a discount quote online, let me know. I will send you personally a discount card.

Coté:
I have one.

Chip Childers:
Well, not you. You’re the audience.

Coté:
Well, no. I’ll put it in the show. If you use COTE, my name Cote, that will give you 25% off.

Chip Childers:
Right on.

Coté:
Yeah, it’s great. A lot of the … I actually haven’t been to a Cloud Foundry Summit in person but I like to watch videos and talk with people. What I’m looking forward to is … Like the conversation we’re having here. I feel like there’s a good mix at the Cloud Foundry summit of like nerds and business people. It’s actually all the constituency, right?

I think it will be a fun big pool of people to sort out all the stuff and talk about how they’ve successfully figured it out. How to have this platform mentality. How do I get in on that software eating the world stuff? Then there’s also the tech stuff.

Chip Childers:
We’re going to go from very high level, industry level. Let’s talk about the macro. We’ve got a whole track of user stories including the keynote. Keynotes are hopeful fact of breakouts and user stories to me are always fascinating and then just deep fascinating and interesting technology discussions plus some informal design conversations with every one of the project leads and the architects.

We’ll have a great expo hall. I hear there’s going to be some pretty kick ass demos there with some companies.

Coté:
Probably those conference cookies that are really big and have a stick of butter in them.

Chip Childers:
Absolutely.

Coté:
How do you think they keep those things so soft?

Chip Childers:
Yeah.

Coté:
It’s just basically butter with some chocolate chips attached.

Chip Childers:
Might be lard, lard is a little cheaper.

Coté:
Even better. Everyone knows that tortillas with lard are what you really want.

Chip Childers:
Absolutely. We’ll make sure they’re there for you.

Coté:
Okay, great. That’s cfsummit.org?

Chip Childers:
That is cfsummit.org.

Coté:
Again, you can use the code COTE, you get 25% off and it’s like really cheap actually. That’s 25% hefty.

Chip Childers:
It is hefty because it’s not an expensive ticket.

Coté:
Well, great.
Thanks for letting me enjoy this view here and talking about stuff. I think that’s good stuff.

Chip Childers:
It was great.

Coté:
We’ll see everyone next time.

About the Author

Biography

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