Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes let organizations deploy applications to the cloud and manage containers. Both are PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) offerings where your cloud service provider (CSP) offers everything from the data center to the development frameworks.
Overall, these aren’t competing platforms. Rather, you’d select one over the other based on your organization’s deployment and management needs. We’ll discuss those needs in this piece and outline the differences and advantages of both Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry.
Cloud Foundry is an open-source PaaS solution for deploying and managing cloud applications.
As a PaaS, Cloud Foundry enables organizations to cut their Day 2 operations costs by focusing on supporting only their applications, not the cloud infrastructure or runtimes.
Though open-source, there’s also a commercial offering, i.e., Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF).
One of the biggest benefits of PCF is that you can set it up on any cloud platform (GCP, AWS, Azure, etc.), making it a true cloud-agnostic platform. You can also deploy PCF on OpenStack, which enables you to deploy it in a proprietary/self-owned data center.
PCF decouples your applications from the underlying system. It allows you to create services for different functions. It also frees your developers from worrying about system resources or where they’re connecting to — they can focus on coding.
Overall, PCF is beneficial for organizations with specific cloud needs. For example, PCF works for those with hybrid cloud and in-house data center deployments. Likewise, organizations that are planning to deploy across multiple CSPs will need PCF.
PCF offers a lot of flexibility for organizations with complex infrastructure plans (e.g., multi-cloud, running an in-house data center, etc.). However, PCF also comes at a higher cost and technical challenges.
In terms of cost, you’ll need to pay for each application instance and Service Instance (SI). As a result, PCF doesn’t scale well, especially as your user base/demand grows.
Secondly, it’s not as easy finding people skilled in PCF compared to Kubernetes. In all likelihood, you’ll need to train them yourself, which will add to both your upfront and ongoing costs.
In light of these strengths and drawbacks, you’ll find that PCF is more common with government organizations (such as the US Air Force) and financial services institutions. Basically, most PCF users are those reluctant to deploy on public cloud platforms such as AWS, GCP, etc.
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Like cloud foundry, Kubernetes is an open-source PaaS solution. You can learn all about Kubernetes in an earlier blog piece; in short, Kubernetes favors those looking to save time and money.
First, Kubernetes requires fewer resources than PCF to run. In fact, at one point, PCF required as many as 30 virtual machines (VM).
Second, if you’re deploying your cloud apps with CSPs, such as Google Cloud Platform (GCP), the CSP will typically offer its own Kubernetes services out-of-the-box, which will save you time and money in terms of configuring your Kubernetes clusters.
Now, you could use the Cloud Foundry Foundation’s open-source project, but this will require a lot of additional development work to get baseline capabilities.
On the other hand, Kubernetes has found its way into almost every industry. In fact, a growing number of organizations looking for multi-cloud orchestration suites are moving to Kubernetes.
Arguably, PCF’s biggest advantage is that you can deploy it in private or in-house data centers. But with the release of Google Kubernetes Engine’s (GKE) On-Prem and Anthos, you can run Kubernetes on-premises, and leverage Kubernetes’ deployment scaling and cost advantages.
Ultimately, the discussion of Kubernetes vs. Cloud Foundry (and PCF) boils down to what your organization needs out of its cloud deployment plans.
As we noted earlier, organizations which were reluctant to deploy on public cloud infrastructure needed PCF in order to manage containers on their private data centers.
On the other hand, if you don’t have such constraints and are relying on a CSP like GCP, then Kubernetes will likely be your best course of action.
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