In this blog series you will find quotes, backgrounds, suggested further readings and other information related to my latest book SAP HANA 2.0, An Introduction published by SAP Press.
As the goal of the book is to provide an introduction, we could not spend as much time and pages on each and every topic as we wished at times. The SAP Cloud Platform and Cloud Foundry is one of such topic. Although we do address the technology in the book, it is mostly related to native application development and XS Advanced. In this blog, we will cover the cloud platform and Cloud Foundry story in a bit more detail and include references where to find more information.
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Don’t Shave That Yak!
You do not have to be familiar with with DRY (don’t repeat yourself), MVC (model-view-controller), or any of the protagonists of our story: Ruby on Rails, Django, Grails, and Spring. They reference popular web development frameworks that have supported application development in the last decade and a half. Cloud Foundry shares some common ideas and principles. Although it has evolved as product and service over time, it is motived by the same objective: improving developer productivity and avoiding yak shaving.
For the name Cloud Foundry, we can thank Chris Richardson, who in the summer of 2007 developed and open-sourced Cloud Tools to make it easier to deploy Java web applications on Amazon Web Services. To commercialise his cloud tools, Richardson started Cloud Foundry.
For a taste, you can browse his CloudCon presentation
- Developing and Deploying Java applications on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (CloudCon East 08) (SlideShare, 2008)
Not rocket science but there are many servers to configure and multiple files to upload.
Although technically not related with the Cloud Foundry to come, we find some key ingredients already present
- open-source with commercial service
- making it easy to deploy web applications to the cloud
- monitor, self-healing, and automatic scaling of applications
In 2009, SpringSource, the company behind the Java development framework Spring, acquired Richardson’s Cloud Foundry. One year before, SpringSource had also acquired G2one, the company behind the Groovy Java scripting language and the Grails development framework. One year later, SpringSource would also acquire the messaging services of RabbitMQ, all open-source projects. For some contemporary perspectives on the deal, see
During all this shopping, SpringSource was acquired by VMware who also had forged strategic alliances with Salesforce.
- VMware to Acquire SpringSource (2009)
- Salesforce.com and VMware Form Strategic Alliance to Launch VMforce™, the World’s First Enterprise Java Cloud (2010)
Heroku for the Enterprise
Cloud Foundry was designed and developed by a small team led by Derek Collison.
10 yrs ago I was just joining VMW from a 7yr stint at Google. I came up with an idea for Heroku for the enterprise (meaning java and a real DB). We called it Project B29 as @derekcollison recently recalls on Twitter.
For the concepts, browse his contemporary Cloud Foundry architecture presentation and get to know the messaging system (Nervous System), router (Traffic Cop), CloudController (The King), HealthManager (Court Jester), and DEA (Droplet Execution Agent).
- Distributed Design and Architecture of Cloud Foundry (SlideShare, 2011)
The Magic Triangle
In 2011, Cloud Foundry was ready for (beta) release. Like its predecessor, it was open-source but also available as commercial service (cloudfoundry.com). VMware being VMware, CloudFoundry was also available as VM.
- VMware Delivers Cloud Foundry, The Industry’s First Open PaaS
- VMware Delivers Micro Cloud FoundryTM, Bringing the Industry’s First Open PaaS Directly to any Developers’ Mac or PC
- MongoDB selected as core data service for VMware’s newly announced Cloud Foundry platform as a service (PaaS) offering
For the technology, you can browse these contemporary blog posts for the origins of VCAP (VMware Cloud Application Platform) and ‘vmc push’.
For a contemporary review, see
From the first Hello World blog on CloudFoundry.org:
Simply put, our goal is to remove the obstacles developers face in building, deploying, running and scaling applications. And do it in an open way so there is no lock-in to frameworks, application services or clouds.
Heroic Haiku and Force
Heroku, founded in 2007, was one of the platform-as-a-service early birds and introduced many developers to the concept. It was initially intended for Ruby on Rails, but later extended to Java and other languages and frameworks. The creator of Ruby, Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, would eventually join Heroku. By that time, Salesforce had acquired Heroku.
Earlier, Salesforce had already launched an internet application development platform called Force. This addressed a different need we will also encounter for SAP’s cloud platform: customising SaaS applications with DaaS (development-as-a-service).
For the haiku, visit www.heroku.com/art
The Twelve-Factor App
In 2011, Heroku co-founder Adam Wiggins created the twelve-factor app methodology for building web applications. If this is new to you, you can read all about on 12factor.net or ponder this illustration. Key takeaways: micro-services architecture
Illustration from Zero to Cloud in 12 Easy Steps (Cloud Foundry Summit 2018)
The Way of the Panda
You might associate VMware more with Virtual Machine than with open-source PaaS. What’s the story? VMware had brought virtualisation to the (Windows) desktop and successfully and entered the server market for hosting virtual machines, according to Gartner with 86% market share in 2010.
VMware’s enthusiasm for open-source cloud platforms might have been influenced by the preferences of another cloud giant, Amazon Web Services, whose web services were powered by open-source virtualisation (Xen at the time).
Illustration from xenproject.org.
The Tool of the Underdog
According to some, open source is what underdogs do to win. Now, we do not need to agree with this view but it is clear that open-source software plays an important part in the cloud compute and PaaS story. Time and again, we see big vendors embracing open source.
Simple Storage and Elastic Compute
Although the cloud pictogram and term precedes it, cloud computing as we know it took off in 2006 when Amazon Web Services launched Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3).
It is no coincidence that Richardson selected EC2 to deploy Java applications to the cloud. In 2013, Gartner estimated that AWS provided five times the compute capacity in use compared to the aggregate total of the other fourteen providers in its Magic Quadrant.
- Amazon’s cloud dwarfs all others, Gartner finds (The Register, 2013)
AWS had the unusual advantage of a seven-year head start before facing like-minded competition, founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos told the press at a 2018 earnings call. The market is still growing and although competitors show higher growth rates, AWS market share is still larger than number 2,3, and 4 combined (according to some studies, there is some guesswork in the data)
- AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud Market Share 2020: What the Latest Data Shows
- COVID-19 Fails to Dent Aggressive Growth in Cloud Spending; Half of the Q1 Market Belongs to Amazon & Microsoft
App Engine and Azure Services
Google’s PaaS is called Google App Engine (GAE). It was launched in 2008, made generally available in 2010, and the Google Cloud Platform was gradually built around it.
Microsoft followed a similar trajectory with Azure Services, also launched as beta in 2008, and aimed to extend Windows and the .NET development framework to the Web (as it was still called then).
- Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform: Making Microsoft’s Software-plus-Services Vision a Reality (2008)
- A Look Back At Ten Years Of Microsoft Azure (2020)
Theory and Practice
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, while in practice there is (quote).
When the software-, platform- and infrastructure-as-a-service (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) concepts are explained a diagram similar to the one below is usually included.
Illustration from Cloud Foundry Overview; the original NIST definitions date from 2011.
AWS started as infrastructure provider (IaaS) but over time moved up and expanded the stack and currently offers over 140 services. Google and Microsoft started with PaaS but gradually moved up and down the stack, mostly leveraging their own technologies, including the one for virtualisation.
Today, we find a similar overwhelming service offering on both Microsoft Azure and on the Google Cloud Platform. This often makes clearly separating PaaS from IaaS challenging, for example with BYOR (bring-your-own-runtime) solutions.
In 2011, AWS launched its own PaaS service: Elastic Beanstalk. CTO Werner Vogels explains in a blog that the service was designed with all developers in mind, referencing both Heroku and CloudFoundry.
Here is a video that explains, once again, the PaaS concept (2014).
What’s Not to Love?
A contemporary review of the PaaS offerings at the time compares Elastic Beanstalk with Google App Engine, Heroku, Microsoft Azure, Cloud Foundry, and some others.
Conclusions: Cloud Foundry “just worked” — we did nothing to the application but install an Eclipse plug-in. What’s not to love?
- Which freaking PaaS should I use? (JavaWorld, 2012)
Here is another contemporary view, comparing the proprietary offers with open-source. With PaaS, large vendors attempted to charm developers on stay on their platform and consume other services. To compete, a good alternative was to promote open-source.
Learned Something New?
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SAP HANA 2.0 – An Introduction
Just getting started with SAP HANA? Or do have a migration to SAP HANA 2.0 coming up? Need a quick update covering business benefits and technology overview. Understand the role of the system administrator, developer, data integrator, security officer, data scientist, data modeler, project manager, and other SAP HANA stakeholders? My latest book about SAP HANA 2.0 covers everything you need to know.
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