Cloud Foundry Blog

About James Watters

James is the head of Product for Cloud Foundry where he oversees product development and strategy. He is also responsible for the marketing, developer relations and ecosystem development functions of the group.
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The Platform for Building Great Software

Since the formation of Pivotal as an independent company the Cloud Foundry open source ecosystem has progressed from a promising collection of early movers to the dominant pattern for enterprise PaaS.

Tomorrow, to celebrate the GA launch of Pivotal CF, our enterprise PaaS powered by Cloud Foundry, we are sponsoring a broad swath of Internet and print advertising to spread awareness of the project and the change it will bring to how enterprises build and deliver software. The marquee advertisement will be a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal, supported by some of the leading companies in the world.

We welcome the support of industry leading companies, such as IBM, Intel, NTT, SAP and Verizon in building the leading open PaaS, as well as the support of the over 750 individual contributors who have contributed to Cloud Foundry. Cloud Foundry is not about any one company or individual group of people. It’s about scaling a community and providing a channel for broad industry participation in shaping the Platform for the cloud era. And that’s why we’re celebrating. We hope you’ll join us.

The Platform

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Facilitating Open Community: an Interview with Andrew Clay Shafer

While planning the first Platform conference, I asked Andrew Shafer for advice and to facilitate an unconference. I first met him at OSCON 2010 and have enjoyed Andrew’s thought provoking perspective ever since. I sat down with Andrew to learn more about his experience with conferences, communities, open source, business and his plans for the Platform unconference.

Andrew, most people who are following the cloud computing and devops storyline for the past few years probably know who you are, but why don’t we start with an introduction.

Right, I’m Andrew Clay Shafer (@littleidea). A lot of people know me as a co-founder of Puppet Labs, and for evangelizing devops, but I worked for a couple of funded startups before that. I worked on an engineering team with David Flynn on devices using flash technology before he started Fusion-io. Since the Puppet days, I led teams that implemented some of the largest CloudStack and OpenStack deployments as VP of Engineering for Cloudscaling. I also like to organize events. I helped put together the first Puppet Camp, the devopsdays in Silicon Valley, Agile Roots and a bunch of Ignite events. That’s probably enough to get the conversation started.

I asked you to help with the planning for our Cloud Foundry community conference and to lead the unconference. Please share a bit about your experiences with similar events.

As I was saying, I’ve been involved in planning a few conferences. I’ve also been to dozens of conferences in the last few years. Some things you have to learn by doing it wrong and some things you learn from seeing other people do it right. Conferences can literally change the trajectory of a career. I learned a lot about that from watching and working with my co-founder Luke Kanies. I’d been working as a developer for a few years before I really understood that. I remember leaving Mountain West Ruby Conf in 2008 and I was just so pumped. You see the technology, but it’s really about the people, seeing what they are capable of, seeing what is possible, that’s what is inspiring. Seeing other people do something makes it possible for you.

Unconferences are really my favorite type of conference. Rarely do you have more expertise on the stage than you do in the audience at an industry conference, but most conferences are all about one person broadcasting, so you have the real dialog in the hallway. A good unconference inverts that. The group co-creates the experience, first deciding what is important enough to discuss and then discussing that as peers. I’m not going to direct people to do anything so much as articulate a framework for that co-created experience. Sadly, I think it is harder to get companies to support sending people to a pure unconference. The first conference I know of to do half presentations, half unconference was the first Puppet Camp, then devopsdays. That was a somewhat strategic decision because we knew we wanted to get a bunch of smart people together to talk about important things, but we thought it would be easier if we published some names who work for companies with well known names and logos to get managers to sign off on travel. And here we are… nice logos by the way.

You’ve also been involved in a few projects helping to build businesses and communities around open source. I’d like to hear what you think of how we are doing with Cloud Foundry so far.

To be honest, I don’t believe open source business or community is a formulaically solved problem. I know quite a bit about a lot of projects and a lot of communities. I’d say there are qualitative and quantitative differences in all of them so it makes it hard to compare apples to apples. Projects get started with different goals. Projects get led by people with different perspectives and personalities. That has an impact on everything to do with the community and business that can grow around the project.

Communities are defined by how they handle critique and dissent. I obviously think community is important, but I think people often mistake politeness and a lack of open conflict for cohesiveness. This is often the case in organizations as well, so there is no surprise to see that brought into a larger collective. The end is a lot of unresolved sublimated conflict and compromise with sub-optimal results. That doesn’t disregard the need for courtesy and respect, just that those are not ends.

Business is about creating and exchanging value. Open source can change some of the dynamics, but ultimately it comes down to convincing someone that what you provide is valuable. If you can do that, you can build a business, if you can’t, you have a hobby. Sometimes what you have isn’t valuable and sometimes you need to improve the narrative you are selling.

All that being said, I think Cloud Foundry has had some stutter steps along the way but appears to be trending in a good direction with regards to both community and business. In the end, my opinion doesn’t really matter, what does matter is who runs the code, who contributes to the code, who gets value from the code and how that allows for relationships that create more value for everyone.

Also, you could use better documentation. How’s that?

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just that it is an amazing time to be building applications and operating infrastructure. So many interesting threads and possibilities are coming together with this. When I was first drawn to working with Luke on Puppet, the mission was literally to change the way that people manage computers. The first discussions we had about that were over a decade ago and look at where the devops discussions are now. A big influence on how I see software and what I see as my contribution to devops come from lessons I learned from Agile, especially the community around Alistair Cockburn and the Salt Lake Agile Roundtable. In the Agile community, I was always impressed by Pivots and Pivotal Labs. I can still picture their logo as a sponsor of my first Mountain West Ruby Conference and some of the great conversations I had with Pivots in the hallways.

There is massive narrative building around continuous delivery, cloud, devops and Agile. Software is eating the world and these things I’ve worked on for the last decade are all blurring into one story. I expect a lot of competition. We both know there is competition out there and on the way, but Cloud Foundry is positioning itself towards the center of that hurricane. You know I don’t think Cloud Foundry is perfect, no tool is, but people are getting real value now and I think it raises the bar for what people expect is possible deploying applications with open tools.

This is an amazing journey. I’m grateful to be a part of all of it, and grateful to get your invitation to help out. I hope people will come to learn and share their journey.

Thanks Andrew, we’ll look forward to seeing you at Platform.

I look forward to being there.

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Cloud Foundry is Open and Pivotal, Part 2

In early March we introduced our vision for the Cloud Foundry Open Platform-as-a-Service project at Pivotal, and laid out a strategy of furthering our broad ecosystem with deep engineering partnerships with external organizations.

“Adding full-time external committers has always been a goal of the team, and we are engaged with several organizations around putting dedicated resources on the extended engineering team”

As of today’s major collaboration announcement with IBM, we can now be explicit about one of the organizations we were already working with in March. Working with IBM and other external organizations over the last several months we have learned more about what it will take to scale our thriving community.

Together, we are taking the following steps to further grow the Cloud Foundry community and the success of its members.

The “Cloud Foundry” open source brand

The “Cloud Foundry” open source brand will be preserved from direct use in product names, in a similar way as the ‘Hadoop’ brand is preserved. Ingredient and functional attribution is still vital to spreading the community (example: “powered by Cloud Foundry”). We believe this is vital as Cloud Foundry will always be greater than any one vendor’s product or service offering.

Bringing the community together

With financial, marketing and engineering help from IBM we will be bringing the community together twice a year at a conference we have named “Platform.” With such a large community building on and around Cloud Foundry it is important to collaborate and plan ongoing roadmaps in person as well as online. We will be co-hosting the first event this September 8th and 9th in Santa Clara. We invite all members of the Cloud Foundry community to join us.

An ongoing advisory board

We will be naming key partners and customers to an ongoing advisory board to the project. IBM is the first ecosystem partner to be named to the board. Stay tuned for further announcements on this.

Agile development backlogs made public

Our ongoing agile development backlogs, executed through Pivotal tracker stories and epics will be made public soon. We will also encourage the community to document major new feature proposals for feedback on the mailing lists, such as was recently done for the new logging functionality. These real-time progress updates and documents will augment longer term roadmap discussions at the Platform conference.

The “Open Dojo” program

We have been piloting a new “Open Dojo” program, where external engineers are invited to work directly with Pivotal’s core Cloud Foundry engineering team. Over the past few months, IBM successfully participated in this program leading to the development of IBM Java and Liberty buildpack. We are welcoming several other large and small organizations to the program in the coming weeks.

It is an exciting time for the growth of Open Platform-as-a-service, and we look forward to seeing you at Platform conference this September in Santa Clara.

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Cloud Foundry is Open and Pivotal

For those who have not heard, Cloud Foundry, the open platform-as-a-service project, is now part of the recently announced Pivotal Initiative, an independent entity funded by VMware and EMC. (For a preview of our Paul Maritz-led Pivotal Initiative, check out this Wired article).

Our independent status is quite meaningful and gives us the ability to engage with our large ecosystem in new ways. Adding full-time external committers has always been a goal of the team, and we are engaged with several organizations about putting dedicated resources on the extended engineering team –we believe this to be a very important step forward. The scale of these external investments is significant and a major milestone in our growth. The heart of Cloud Foundry, however, really comes from individual community contributions and users, so of course, we invite you to join us. All you need to do is send a pull-request.

As more and more organizations contribute to Cloud Foundry a transparent roadmap to the community is paramount. In January we began publishing a quarterly plan as part of our community documentation and since then our mailing list activity has hit an all-time high. We will be prolific in communicating the updated roadmap and updates on new work including logging APIs, .NET support, Cloud Foundry BOSH enhancements and more.

Cloud independence and multi-cloud support are important beliefs for us and the broader Pivotal Initiative. Expect open interfaces and support for a variety of clouds, with continued development on AWS, Openstack, vCloud and vSphere environments.

Our own financial and human investment in the project continues to grow. Cloud Foundry is staffed with over forty full time internal engineers, augmented by an additional team of twenty five spread across PM, developer advocacy and community management.

Last week we began actively selling software update and support subscriptions to large customers, another important milestone. Enterprise interest in building large scale internal agile platforms with Cloud Foundry is tremendous and we expect an interesting new backlog of feature requests from these engagements. The only proprietary code in these subscriptions is our web console, so any new enhancements will immediately benefit the larger community.

Finally we have again weighed the best governance model for the project and believe the current corporate sponsored, Apache 2 licensed, pull request driven approach, remains the right one. Adding external committers will also enhance the diversity and strength of the team. That said, the massive growth of the community and ecosystem requires mediating a diverse set of needs and we will always be open to other governance models for the project in the future.

Our mission is to become the most popular platform for new applications and the services used to build them across public and private clouds. If your organization would like to join us in building something great please contact us here.

James Watters, Head of Product

The Cloud Foundry Team

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