Cloud Foundry Foundation CEO Sam Ramji departs for Google

Sam Ramji, the founding CEO of the open-source platform as a service Cloud Foundry Foundation, is joining Google in a yet-to-be-disclosed executive role. Abby Kearns, the current VP of Industry at the Cloud Foundry Foundation and an industry veteran, will take over as Executive Director while Chip Childers will become the organization’s CTO.

Ramji is leaving Cloud Foundry at a time when open source is becoming increasingly important in the enterprise. It’s unclear what exactly his role at Google is going to be, but chances are it will involve Cloud Foundry in some form. Over the last few years, Cloud Foundry has found its niche in large enterprises, after all, and that’s exactly the market Google is currently trying to attract to its own public cloud platform. Ramji tells me we will have to wait until Monday to hear more details, though (“Cloud Foundry is pretty damn important to the Google Cloud Platform,” is all I got out of him). It’s worth noting that Google also recently acquired Apigee, a company where Ramji was Chief Strategy Officer from 2009 to 2015. The Cloud Foundry Foundation board appointed Ramji as CEO in early 2015.

Before joining the Cloud Foundry Foundation earlier this year, Kearns worked on Pivotal Cloud Foundry and at Verizon. Her job now is to steer the project and build upon its current momentum. “Abby reminds me of Tron, in that she fights for the user,” Ramji said. Childers spent 18 years working on large-scale computing projects before he joined the foundation as its Technology Chief of Staff in 2015.

“As we’ve thought about where we want to go for 2017, we’re going to focus on doubling down on the work we’ve been doing with CIOs and CTOs with our enterprise customers and help them be successful,” Kearns told me when I asked her about her goal. She also noted, however, that the foundation plans to go after the developer community more. “If you attended our events in the past, you haven’t seen much of the narrative in sessions and even keynotes directed at developers,” she said. Going forward, the foundation’s events and its messaging will include far more developer-centric discussions.

The reason why the foundation didn’t quite do this before is because a lot of the traction Cloud Foundry got in the last few years came from the C-suite. Childers echoed this and added that the companies that have adopted Cloud Foundry now often find themselves struggling to find the talent necessary to operate their platforms and write applications for them. The foundation plans to soon launch a certification program to help ease this issue.

Childers also noted that the project needs to ensure that its tools fit into the complex IT setups that many of these enterprises already operate today. To this, Kearns added that as enterprises move their Cloud Foundry experiments into production, the project will also need to ensure that it can meet their scaling needs.

Looking ahead, Ramji told me that he would like to see more end user-focused companies as foundation members going forward and he believes that it will be pivotal for Cloud Foundry to add service certifications, too, especially as the Cloud Foundry ecosystem continues to grow. He also argued that for Cloud Foundry, adoption is currently ahead of awareness, so the foundation’s job going forward will be to bring more balance to this.