Home Insights Should I move from Pivotal Cloud Foundry to Amazon Kubernetes? A critical comparison
Should I move from Pivotal Cloud Foundry to Amazon Kubernetes?

Should I move from Pivotal Cloud Foundry to Amazon Kubernetes? A critical comparison

As a business in the digital age, developing, deploying and managing applications in the fastest, most secure and cost-effective way possible is critical to achieving and maintaining a competitive edge. In pursuit of achieving these milestones, we have seen the application development process shift from deploying software directly to bare metal servers to virtualization, and finally to containerization in the cloud. This transition enabled greater efficiency, scalability, speed, and security, as well as increased ROI across the board. 

To stay at the forefront of tech evolution, most forward-thinking businesses are now modernizing their legacy applications by adopting a cloud-native microservices architecture. While this allows better services, customization abilities, and control, some companies are reluctant to move away from their on-prem monolith apps. The hesitation is often caused by fear of losing their initial investment, or by the lack of resources or knowledge to support the change. For these companies, Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) became the perfect solution. It’s a popular commercial framework for on-prem development, deployment and management, that offers a bridge between the traditional on-site infrastructure and the benefits of modern cloud-based technologies.

While PCF still holds its value, things have clearly changed with the emergence of mature, managed, cloud-native Kubernetes platforms. Coupled with the increasing need for businesses to cut costs, achieve horizontal scaling, and become more efficient in the face of global disruption and major shifts in consumer demand, it prompted many PCF customers to consider moving to the cloud and Kubernetes, but it isn’t always an easy choice. 

There are a number of PaaS frameworks for deployment process automation available on the market today. In this blog, we will compare two systems – PCF and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) – to help you decide which one is the best for your business.

Cloud Foundry vs Kubernetes: A critical comparison

What is the difference between cloud foundry and Kubernetes?

Before we can delve into the specifics of PCF and Amazon EKS, it’s important to understand their production environments. At their core, Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry are both PaaS platforms for application deployment and management. Cloud Foundry, however, is supplemental to Kubernetes, meaning you can install Cloud Foundry on top of Kubernetes to make app developers more productive. Kubernetes, on the other hand, can easily be extended to offer the same functionality as Cloud Foundry. 

The key difference between the two is that Cloud Foundry comes pre-configured with an opinionated workflow, while Kubernetes offers a considerable amount of flexibility, and can be configured and extended to support virtually any workflow.

While Cloud Foundry has a sizable user base, the open-source community has been slow to embrace Kubernetes. Because of this, the platform is not often the first choice for enterprises on the cutting edge of container orchestration and microservices. In most cases, they opt for the major cloud-hosted Kubernetes services from Azure, AWS and Google, or other hybrid cloud platforms such as IBM/Red Hat OpenShift. 

Deploying Cloud Foundry typically requires dedicated on-premises virtual infrastructure or public cloud subscriptions. Kubernetes, on the other hand, offers more flexibility in terms of underlying infrastructure and multi-cloud deployments while still providing a unified app developer experience.

The ultimate question for CTOs, data scientists, and developers boils down to this: Which solution will bring the greatest potential for flexibility, agility, scalability, resiliency, and security as technology needs within hybrid and multi-cloud environments continue to evolve?

What is Pivotal Cloud Foundry?

Originally built on the Cloud Foundry framework, PCF is a service layer that enables developers to deploy and manage applications on-premises and in the cloud. After VMware acquired Pivotal in 2019, PCF became known as VMware Tanzu Application Service. This acquisition marks Cloud Foundry’s first entry (albeit late) into the world of Kubernetes, leaving many legacy PCF customers wondering about ongoing product support and service commitment.

What is Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service?

Amazon EKS is a managed service that makes it easy for businesses to run Kubernetes both on AWS and on-premises. It is an open-source platform for automating the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Amazon EKS is certified Kubernetes-conformant, so existing applications that run on upstream Kubernetes are compatible with Amazon EKS. Because it is a managed service, Amazon EKS automatically manages the availability and scalability of the Kubernetes control plane nodes responsible for scheduling containers, managing application availability, storing Kubernetes cluster data, and other key tasks.

With Amazon EKS, you can take advantage of all the performance, scale, reliability, and availability of AWS infrastructure, as well as integrations with AWS networking and security services, such as application load balancers (ALBs) for load distribution, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) integration with role-based access control (RBAC), and AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) support for pod networking.

Container tools used by respondents | Flexera state of cloud report

Pivotal Cloud Foundry vs Amazon EKS: Which one to choose

PCF vs. EKS: Which is better?

It may be fairly obvious by now which platform is more flexible, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right platform for your business needs. In short, EKS is favorable to enterprises with complex technology ecosystems and multi-cloud orchestration suites looking to save time and money. While PCF is pre-configured, easier to use and enables organizations to cut their Day 2 operation costs by focusing on supporting only their applications, not the cloud infrastructure or runtimes, the lock-in licensing costs can be substantial. 

Let’s break down some of the basics:

 Amazon EKSPCF (VMware Tanzu Application Service)
Licensing costsNo licensing costs, only pay for what you useSubscription license, typically for one- or three-year terms
Managed servicesFully managed services from Robust AWS infrastructureNeed to use service brokers (added complexity)
Open-source community supportAWS has a massive open-source community to find a tool or answer to resolve any and every challengeVMware has a strong open-source community, but not as big as AWS
Security and maintenanceAWS investment into platform security is unmatched and maintenance updates and health monitoring are automatically managedYou need to apply security patches and platform updates manually

Explore features of both platforms in more depth with the following resources:

Benefits of the PCF to Kubernetes starter kit

Grid Dynamics and AWS teamed up to create a PCF Kubernetes Migration Starter Kit, which enables a seamless transition from PCF (now called VMware Tanzu) to AWS Kubernetes. With this kit you can say goodbye to complexities associated with deploying new application features and hello to a future-ready, streamlined infrastructure. As an enterprise entering the world of cloud and microservices, you can rest assured that you’ll be up and running in a matter of days, with much more time to focus on your newfound business value.

Check out some of the benefits of this cloud migration starter kit:

Co-innovate in a fully pre-integrated environment

Leveraging the AWS EKS blueprint for best practices and onboarding your engineering teams to AWS, we help you learn how to effectively use AWS resources and how to efficiently manage and configure them.

Quick time to market

Efficiently set up new environments, encompassing both lower (development, QA, pre-production) and upper (production) tiers, in a matter of days rather than weeks or even months.

Backed by emerging AWS EKS Blueprints

The Starter Kit improves existing features offered by the AWS EKS Blueprint and AWS CDK. It is fully compliant with AWS best practices on infrastructure provisioning, management, and security.

Migrate without changing existing code

The source repository is migrated automatically and configured to operate on a scalable architecture without any changes to your application code. Furthermore, our migration script is designed to manage all the intricate aspects of the process for you.

DevOps automation

The infrastructure and CI/CD pipelines are constructed based on Infrastructure as Code (IaC) principles. This approach automates both infrastructure and application provisioning, ensuring a stable and uniform environment, faster iterations, shorter development lifecycle, better risk prevention, and greater flexibility throughout the process.

If you’re willing to embrace enhanced automation, modern CI/CD, and the flexibility of cloud-native applications, you’re on the right track. Transitioning can help you achieve faster time-to-market, industry best practices, and substantial cost savings by eliminating license fees.

With these compelling benefits in mind, it’s time to determine whether a migration from PCF to EKS aligns with your organization’s goals and needs. To facilitate this assessment, we’ve prepared a checklist designed to assist you in making an informed decision:

  • Do you want better automation with Infrastructure as code (IaC) and to minimize infrastructure drift?
  • Do you want modern CI/CD and a faster time to market?
  • Do you want to implement a modern OSS/Cloud-native microservices platform with the potential for future growth?
  • Do you want to migrate to the cloud/improve your existing cloud platform with industry best practices?
  • Do you want to stop paying license fees?

If you answered yes to the questions above, it’s time to make the move. If you want the process to be as fast and efficient as possible, our cloud migration starter kit will help you rapidly migrate from PCF to EKS.

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