When Priyanka Sharma took the reins at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) this summer, it was hard to say whether her timing was auspicious or ominous.
As general manager of the organization that oversees the fast-growing open source movement, she is in an immensely influential position. But with a global pandemic upending everyone’s plans, she knew the foundation’s priorities would need to adapt.
For four months now, she’s been trying to strike a balance between helping the foundation navigate its technical mission and tending to the well-being of its community. What she’s learned so far is that both aspects are essential for an open source movement to thrive.
“Many people are like, ‘Oh, what a terrible time to walk into this job,’” Sharma said. “But I think it’s been really good because I’ve had a chance to step up and help the community go through a challenging period.”
A new cloud infrastructure
Founded in 2015, the CNCF is an open source organization that operates under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation. The CNCF’s mandate is to oversee the ecosystem of tools being developed to drive the growth of “microservices,” or “cloud-native computing.”
This approach to developing cloud infrastructure, which relies on containers, holds that breaking applications into smaller, self-contained units can significantly reduce the costs and time needed to write, deploy, and manage them. The result should be a web that is faster yet more stable. Just as compelling to proponents, it should deliver a more open web that makes it easier for users to change cloud platforms.
As containers began taking off several years ago, Google developed an orchestration platform called Kubernetes to manage them. Google approached the Linux Foundation about open-sourcing Kubernetes, and those talks led to the creation of the CNCF, which also counts Twitter, Huawei,