The Cloud Foundry Foundation Certification Program

December 16, 2015 Ian Andrews

sfeatured-CloudFoundry-pourBGWhen we set out to create the Cloud Foundry Foundation and asked others to join us on the journey, we certainly envisioned a platform ecosystem. To benefit customers further, we also wanted to avoid the scenario where one vendor’s distribution is incompatible with another. Yesterday’s announcement of the Cloud Foundry Certification Program is a key milestone in achieving this cross-ecosystem compatibility, and we are very excited to see it deliver on our original vision.

The compatibility need exists at every company around the world. Digital is becoming the center of corporate strategy, and middleware innovation, in the form of Cloud Foundry, is radically changing software lifecycles to support these digital strategies. Companies are investing billions in these two overlapping areas, and the new Cloud Foundry Certification Program will protect a company’s Cloud Foundry investments by ensuring portability and interoperability across all types of vendors. Without such a program, platform investments are locked-in to a single vendor.

Pivotal, CenturyLink, HPE, Huawei, IBM, SAP, and Swisscom are the first companies to certify their products, and our Pivotal Cloud Foundry Field CTO, Joshua McKenty, explains the significance of yesterday’s certification announcements simply, “When you sit down with a CIO, they will say, ‘look, we are making a 20 year commitment to Cloud Foundry as a platform for our organization.’” A twenty year investment decision is eye-opening, but it makes sense. CIOs believe several things—their company’s future is software and data driven, more apps must get released much faster, and the past 20 years of platforms and toolsets won’t cut it. In the first stage of cloud computing, IT teams moved quickly to use public cloud providers like AWS. The next stage will be about regaining control of public clouds, and a lack of cloud standards will prevent portability and interoperability, which doesn’t reliably provide control or choice over time.

The Problem That Cloud Foundry Certification Addresses

Without standards, ecosystems get into trouble. For example, software vendors have historically forked and tweaked operating systems and application servers to the point that “write once, run anywhere” became an impossibility. Apps on one platform could not be easily or cost-effectively moved to another platform, nor would they work together. The customer was locked in, technical debt was imminent, and flexibility disappeared.

This problem helped us formulate one of the most important, early goals for Cloud Foundry—a goal that has now taken shape within the Cloud Foundry Foundation ecosystem and governance model. As an ecosystem, we need a widely adopted, open source standard which allows customers to freely and flexibly move workloads across clouds or platform vendors. Importantly, customers reinforced a very strong view about this type of standard—they had been down this path before and did not want to choose from many proprietary, pseudo-open solutions, or competing standards. So, we invited our customers, partners, and competitors to collaborate on the project—agreeing that we would all build towards a common, open codebase and set of APIs while differentiating on unique capabilities. With the availability of the Cloud Foundry Certification Program, the Cloud Foundry community now provides a collective guarantee for portability, interoperability, and flexibility. No matter where developers push code or DevOps teams manage the platform, they also have a consistent user experience.

While customers who understand the value can give a proverbial sigh of relief, they must continue to hold their vendors accountable to open standards that protect interoperability and portability.

Where Certification Adds Value—Interoperability And Portability

Cloud Foundry’s benefits are proven. There are dozens and dozens of stories, and companies across all industries and geographies have publically shared their experiences with the platform—push-button deployment speed, continuous delivery, DevOps efficiency, cloud architecture support, reduced risks and costs, development agility, open source visibility, and extreme scale—all in a managed and controlled environment.

By adding interoperability and portability to this list, companies gain inherent advantages:

  1. A company can run their app in one Cloud Foundry environment and move it to another Cloud Foundry environment without changing code.
  2. Apps can be developed and prototyped in one environment, like Pivotal Web Services, and then run in production for the U.S. on an internal Pivotal Cloud Foundry® environment while running international workloads on an external Cloud Foundry instance managed by another vendor—all without changing the codebase.
  3. Certification makes any given component or service, such as those from application vendors, work across Cloud Foundry distributions and environments. Neither vendors nor customers have to design, develop for, test against, or manage a huge compatibility matrix—saving millions of dollars.

How Certification Works—The Key Steps And High Level Considerations

Unlike many other industry certification programs, the technical compliance testing is based on specific Cloud Foundry software components—not just API-level compatibility—but the actual Foundation-released software. Companies can develop functional differences, but they must be based on specific plugin points within the Cloud Foundry platform architecture, and required Cloud Foundry component code cannot be modified.

Seeing this vision-turn-reality feels like a personal victory for Pivotal. However, we have all collaboratively achieved a tremendous triumph for the entire ecosystem. Cloud Foundry users and developers are, perhaps for the first time, able to avoid vendor lock-in and protect their Cloud Foundry investments by ensuring portability and interoperability across clouds and vendors. We hope you share the news.

To learn more about the certification program, visit the certification page at cloudfoundry.org/use/cloud-foundry-certified.

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