Inside the new Continuous Delivery Foundation

Does the world need yet another open source foundation? That is a question that was posed to the founding members of the CDF - the Continuous Delivery Foundation - which recently formed as an addition to the roster of sub-groups beneath the Linux Foundation.

Skeptics might be brought over by the fact that Jenkins, Jenkins X, Netflix and Google's Spinnaker and Google's Tekton projects have all found themselves at the heart of the initiative, which is aimed at "developing, nurturing, and promoting open source projects, best practices and industry specifications" related to continuous delivery - in other words, speedy software cycles that are at the heart of the devops motto to 'fail fast'.

Back in 2017, says Cloudbees' Tracy Miranda who is director of open source community at the vendor, Jenkins board member R Tyler Croy met with the Linux Foundation's Chris Aniszczyk to discuss governance issues about the setup at the time. There were some thoughts about creating a Jenkins Software Foundation, and although the community was "pretty receptive", others urged them not to make another foundation - or if they did, to broaden the scope rather than run one for a single tool.

Shortly after Miranda joined Cloudbees in mid-2018, developments at companies like Google - with the Tekton open source framework for continuous delivery - and Netflix, with its commitment to the open source Spinnaker project, the various initiatives seemed to fall into place, complementary to one another and in supporting open source CI/CD.

"We were in a similar position in that we had a growing community, large enterprises entering the fold, innovating and putting people on the project," adds Andy Glover, director of delivery engineering at Netflix. "A fairly consistent question coming in from the community was, is Spinnaker going to be donated to a foundation? We started looking into it. We had some talks with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. We toyed with the idea of well, CNCF is big, it seems appropriate there would be a more focused foundation..."

Glover and other contributors wondered if Spinnaker should have its own foundation, but they reached the conclusion that this would be yet another foundation with yet another single thing in it.

He had a conversation with the Linux Foundation's Chris Aniszczyk, who in turn mentioned his conversation with Cloudbees and Google for a continuous delivery organisation.

"Everything clicked, the lights went on - it was the obvious home for Spinnaker," says Glover.

"The chance to collaborate with [Cloudbees CTO and Jenkins founder] Kohsuke Kawaguchi, Tyler, Tracy, and the rest of the Cloudbees and Jenkins community is unprecedented from the standpoint of I believe every company on the planet has used or uses Jenkins," adds Glover. "The lessons learned from that community is tremendous, and then there is obviously the Spinnaker community - we've learned a ton of lessons especially when it comes to continuous delivery at scale.

"Then you have Google and Tekton - that was very appealing, the idea of portability, and of building blocks of continuous delivery, which was another thing we had already begun working on."


Founding members include technology vendors as well as users, such as Capital One, as well as something in-between, as is the case with Netflix. Other founding members include IBM, Huawei, IBM, and JFrog, as well as Alibaba Cloud, Armory, Atos, Rancher, and Puppet. More members will be en route as the organisation of the foundation moved quite quickly - others needed to get budget or legal involved, for instance, and this didn't work out quite in time for launch. "We're expecting a second wave of companies to join in," says Miranda, "just because they didn't have enough time originally, but they do want to get involved so we're looking forward to future announcements."

"One thing I think we're proud of and want to keep as a top priority is the fact that we do have members who are end user companies like HSBC and Capita One," says Miranda. "I think having them in the foundation from day one is super important because we do want to have that voice of not just the software vendors, but having different types of companies in there all working together. I think that's really set us off on a good footing."

"As in other big enterprises, this idea of continuous delivery is not a fad - it is a differentiator for any business," adds Glover. "Netflix is a great example - Google - all the successful companies on today's market have figured out how to safely, reliably and quickly deliver value to their end user and I think companies realise that if they cannot get continuous delivery correct, if they can't figure it out, their competitor will.

"So I think that's why you see the other companies getting involved with CDF - I think being able to standardise and elaborate on how everyone can take advantage of this principle is a win-win."

According to CloudBees' Tracy Miranda the organisation is in a "bootstrapping period right now" - so is in the process of setting up the various bodies, such as a strategic group, the governing board, and the technical oversight committee. There is also an outreach committee being established to spread the word on the CDF.

"At the same time we are pressing ahead with the coding and the integration of Jenkins X and Tekton, that's actually happening," adds Miranda. "So lots of different things are happening in parallel, getting all the groundwork and the right people in the right places."

Glover adds that from a Spinnaker standpoint the community is trying to better understand the specification and building blocks of Tekton, and how the code can be integrated into Spinnaker.

And there will be social events, with a co-located event with Kubecon in Barcelona this May where a "more refined message" will be on show, along with the "game plan" of how the various projects will be integrated, and what's to come next.

The response from the Jenkins community, Miranda says, was that since conversations about CI/CD governance dated back to 2017 at the contributor summit, a new foundation was "long overdue".

However, she adds that there has been "some hesitation" - in terms of how the new foundation might effect day to day operations and contributions and so on.

"Similarly, the Spinnaker community has been very positive," says Glover. "I think most in the community were not surprised at the move. That's been the sentiment I've been receiving and seeing on Twitter and Slack."

However, he adds that the thinking behind creating a new foundation rather than rolling it into the CNCF was because continuous delivery is "a process and as a theme spans more than just cloud native computing".

"There are plenty of software packages or companies out there that aren't yet in the cloud, or have apps that are in the cloud and not in the cloud, either taking advantage of continuous delivery, using Jenkins or using Spinnaker," he says.

"Or they're looking to embrace continuous delivery. So I think that's my answer to the people who have come to me and asked: why not the CNCF? I think we have a larger scope, per se, in terms of the problem we're trying to solve.

"Jenkins X and Tekton are very much aligned with the CNCF. I think when I look at Spinnaker I think we solve a very broad problem," he explains, adding that Spinnaker and Netflix are delivering firmware upgrades to systems that are not necessarily cloud-native. "We do deliver containers, but we also deliver VMs. I think it's a broader scope than just say, cloud native computing."


Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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