New industry group to bring web-scale tech to the enterprise

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation will develop software for creating a 'micro-services' architecture

Some of the biggest names in IT and online services have banded together to standardize the way applications are run in the cloud.

Organized by the Linux Foundation, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation was announced Tuesday and has drawn the support of Cisco, IBM, Intel, VMware, CoreOS, Docker, and Joyent. It is also getting input from cloud service providers such as Box, eBay and Twitter.

"We're seeing a shift towards a new form of application development and data center management, based on container technology and the orchestration and deployment technologies you see in a lot of in web-scale companies," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation.

One of the first software packages to be managed by the foundation will be Kubernetes, software originally designed by Google for managing large numbers of virtual containers. On Tuesday, Google was due to release the first production ready version of the software.

The foundation aims to help coordinate the development of software used to create micro-service architectures, an emerging approach to systems design in which applications are broken into multiple components and packaged in virtual containers so they can be easily moved around or duplicated to handle heavy workloads.

Web scale companies like Google and Twitter have gravitated towards this componentized architecture, finding it to be the most efficient way of managing complex, heavily-used applications.

They've open-sourced much of the software they've created to run microservices, but the technologies can be complex and difficult for other companies to set up without dedicated engineering help.

The foundation aims to make the software easier to deploy in enterprises, by funding further development, fostering interoperability and creating educational material to get enterprise IT administrators and developers up to speed.

"While there are a lot of great technologies out there, there is not the level of convergence among them that would yield the greatest alignment of the ecosystem," Sam Ghods, cofounder and systems architect at Box, said in a a blog post due to be published Tuesday.

"Driving structure and standards across the full 'Cloud Native' stack is going to propel the ecosystem forward is incredible ways," he wrote.

The foundation will also provide a neutral zone for managing the software.

Because many of these projects were started by individual IT companies, a third-party organization managing the code will give enterprises assurance that the future development of a software package won't be controlled by a single vendor.

Under the auspices of a vendor-neutral organization, software such as Kubernetes "can become a piece of Internet infrastructure, like raw plumbing for the Internet," said Alex Polvi, CEO of CoreOS.

The foundation also plans to work with Mesophere, which is software deigned to coordinate data center operations to support microservice workloads, and with the recently launched Open Container Project.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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