Cloud Foundry's Project Erini gathers momentum

The project is gathering pace amongst the Cloud Foundry community as the open source platform and Kubernetes continue to converge

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The latest project to emerge from the open source Cloud Foundry Foundation is another signal that Kubernetes will play a core role in the future for the platform-as-a-service.

Project Eirini first surfaced out of IBM nearly a year ago as a way to allow operators and vendors to plug in Kubernetes as the underlying container scheduler with the Cloud Foundry Application Runtime (CFAR). What this allows is for developers working within the Cloud Foundry framework to easily push an application into production with Kubernetes for orchestration. This gives customers a choice of orchestrator for the first time: Kubernetes or CF's own Diego.

Abby Kearns, executive director of the Cloud Foundry Foundation said during the organisation's European Summit in The Hague this week that "the Erini project represents a strong shift ... we announced our distribution of Kubernetes for Cloud Foundry Container Runtime (CFCR) in 2017 and have done a tonne of work to bring Kubernetes closer in alignment with the way Cloud Foundry works as the technology has matured. Erini represents a step in that, which is allowing the option to choose which scheduler you want."

Kearns often talks about the Foundation's north star, which is to create "the best open source developer experience," which now means "largely, on top of Kubernetes with the Erini and Quarks projects," she said.

Often mentioned in the same breath as Erini, project Quarks is focused more on packaging CFAR as containers, instead of virtual machines, with the aim of giving developers a similar operational experience to Kubernetes when dealing with BOSH-managed installations. It does this by converting a BOSH release into a Docker image for installation into Kubernetes.

The two projects essentially help Cloud Foundry community members to run in a more Kubernetes-familiar way, and are another step towards the two environments coming closer together.

Project Erini progress

Zooming in on Erini specifically, the project is currently in technical preview and is now supported by the ATOS, Suse, IBM, Cloud.gov, Pivotal, SwissCom and SAP distributions of Cloud Foundry.

In terms of early feedback, Chip Childers, chief technology officer at the Cloud Foundry Foundation, told Computerworld that the "anecdotal feedback I have got from a handful of end users, who are customers of these distributions, as well as those that have tried it on their own with the open source software, is that it's solving a need."

Childers added that generally available is "not a term we use in open source" but that he can predict "by reading tea leaves and making a guess that we will start to see some of the commercial distributions switch to generally available sometime in the six-to-nine month horizon."

The open source team on the other hand is still engaged in the process of gathering as much feedback as possible through these commercial partners in order to reach a stable state with Erini.

Case study: Swiss government

Speaking in a breakout session in The Hague this week, Lucas Bickel, a software engineer at open source service provider Adfinis SyGroup, talked about a recent project he had worked on with an unnamed Swiss government agency, and how it is setting itself up to move towards Erini and Quarks adoption.

Working with SUSE – which has supported the technical preview of Erini since the Cloud Application Platform 1.4 release in April – Adfinis SyGroup has built a Cloud Foundry deployment for the client, and learned a lot of lessons along the way.

The project essentially aimed to free up developers and involved giving end users access to a self-serve service catalog for procuring virtual machines, for example, all while keeping conservative product owners and IT operations staff happy.

One key difference between Kubernetes and Diego is isolation. Kubernetes has a feature called node selectors, which is similar to isolation segments on Diego, in that it allows users to place deployments on specific hosts, but with Kubernetes, developers get a greater degree of freedom and granularity.

Bickel told Computerworld that this feature in particular is highly attractive to his clients when it comes to broader adoption of Erini. These customers want to move away from Cloud Foundry's "monolithic" Diego container management system, he said, allowing for better governance and security practices, which are particularly pertinent for Swiss public sector clients.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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