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Platforms Demystified: Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes, Eirini, and Knative

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Matthias Haeussler and Dr Nic Williams spoke at this year's SpringOne Platform 2019 Conference about different cloud platforms and how they compare in terms of features from a developer perspective. They discussed platforms like Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes, Project Eirini, and the Knative serverless platform.

Haeussler and Williams started the presentation with the history of containers and platform. The history spanned from chroot in 1979 to Knative and Eirini projects in 2018, and they discussed the fundamental concepts of Cloud Foundry and the Kubernetes platforms. They stated that a platform should provide self-service for developers, UX for all support roles, automation & monitoring, and self-healing and optimization of resources. A platform should be infrastructure-focused as opposed to application-focused.

They advised developers to avoid the "Not Invented Here Platform" anti-pattern. If you are not using a platform, then you are building your own platform. And not knowing it doesn't change the fact that you are building your own DIY cloud platform. Standard platforms may not let you do everything, but they address most of your needs on the platform.

Haeussler showed a demo of how the applications are deployed in different cloud platforms. Cloud Foundry application deployment uses commands like cf push, cf scale, and cf ssh.

Project Eirini is a Kubernetes backend for Cloud Foundry. It deploys the applications to a Kubernetes engine using OCI images. Operators can choose between Diego or Kubernetes to orchestrate application container instances.

Project Quarks is another effort from the Cloud Foundry Foundation to package Cloud Foundry Application Runtime (CFAR) as containers instead of virtual machines, enabling easier deployment to Kubernetes. The containerized CFAR provides identical developer experience to that of BOSH-managed Cloud Foundry installation. You can use Eirini and Quarks together in your applications.

Haeussler and Williams also talked about the Cloud Native Build Packs, a CNCF-hosted project that can be used as a standard build and deployment process for delivering applications to cloud platforms without the developers having to worry about which specific platform the apps are being deployed on. Engineers can use these build packs on their local machine or on a cluster. It can also help with rebasing layers in containers, operating system updates to existing OCI images, vulnerability detection, and deploying updates to all containers in the cluster.

Next, they discussed the kpack tool, a Kubernetes-native container build service which utilizes Kubernetes primitives to provide builds of OCI images as a platform implementation of Cloud Native Buildpacks. kpack is part of the Pivotal Build Service. For more information on this new build tool, check out their tutorial. Another initiative called Open Service Broker helps make Cloud Foundry "plug and play". The Open Service Broker API project allows cloud vendors to provide backing services to workloads running on cloud native platforms such as Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes.

They also showed how to use the Istio service mesh framework in cloud native applications. The Knative platform helps with build and deploy, and can manage all of the serverless workloads in organizations. It offers features like scale-to-zero, autoscaling, in-cluster builds, and eventing framework for cloud-native applications on Kubernetes.

For additional details on this presentation, you can check out the slides or the video recording. You can also check out the Cloud-Native Buildpacks on Kubernetes presentation hosted by Emily Casey and Joe Kutner from the SpringOne 2019 Conference.

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