Why CNCF? Why now?

I was asked on Twitter why the Cloud Native Computing Foundation should exist… Instead of responding ala Tweetstorm, I thought I would write a super quick blog post.

There are a few important reasons, but I will focus on the main one that I really care most about: Decoupling Kubernetes from Google.

It is no secret that Kubernetes is one of the fastest growing open source projects around, perhaps ever. In any category, not just distributed systems or infrastructure software. The growth rate is essentially on-par with Docker’s first year of contributors and commits. It is absolutely explosive.

Having said this, Kubernetes is still in its infancy having just reached v1.0. There are many years to go before the project grows into what its creators (Google) had in mind when open sourcing it a year ago. To that end, in order for Kubernetes to reach its full potential, it MUST be a community-owned/run/governed project and NOT a Google-owned project.

On top of the fact that many see Google as the benevolent dictator for Kubernetes (good and bad things can come of this), there is in fact hard data available on the differences in success (let’s call it “pervasiveness potential”) open source projects reach when you compare ones that were predominantly run and owned by a single corporation vs ones that evolved collaboratively and where governed by independent foundations (ASF or project-specific ones). Let alone how much adoption a given open source project can reach when community-governed and driven, but there are also many examples of projects that simply died off because a vibrant community never galvanized around them.

Collaborative governance always dominates over monopolistic governance:

Sam Ramji (CEO of the Cloud Foundry Foundation) presented some great frameworks of thinking this morning during his OSCON keynote around why foundations are extremely useful as we see certain highly successful open source technologies adopted by the industry.

Bryan Cantrill (CTO of Joyent and member of the Technical Oversight Committee of the CNCF) also gave an amazing and quite relevant talk this afternoon at OSCON. His slides are here. Pay attention in particular to slides 20 and 21.

Note: I work for Kismatic, a founding member of the CNCF.


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