As Kubernetes grows, a startup ecosystem develops in its wake

Kubernetes, the open source receptacle orchestration tool, came out of Google several years ago and has gained traction amazingly fast. With each step in its growth, it has created opportunities for companies to develop industries on top of the open source project.

The beauty of open source is that when it runs, you build a base platform and an economic ecosystem follows in its wake. That’s because a project like Kubernetes( or any successful open source offering) generates new requirements as a natural extension of the growth and development of a project.

Those requirements represent opportunities for new projects, of course, but also for startups looking at building companies adjacent that open source community. Before that can happen however, a couple of key pieces have to fall into place.

Ingredients for success

For starters you need the big corporates to get behind it. In the case of Kuberentes, in a 6 week period last year in quick succession between July and the beginning of September, we saw some of the best known enterprise technology companies including AWS, Oracle, Microsoft, VMware and Pivotal all join the Cloud Native Computing Foundation( CNCF ), the professional organisation behind the open source project. This was a signal that Kubernetes was becoming a standard of kinds for container orchestration.

Surely these big companies would have preferred( and tried) to control the orchestration layer themselves, but they soon found that their customers preferred to use Kubernetes and they had little choice, but to follow the clear tendency that was developing around the project.

Photo: Georgijevic on Getty Images

The second piece that has to come together for an open source community to prosper is that a significant group of developers have to accept it and start build stuff on top of the platform — and Kubernetes get that too. Consider that according to CNCF, a total of 400 projects have been developed on the platform by 771 developers contributing over 19,000 perpetrates since the launch of Kubernetes 1.0 in 2015. Since last August, the last date for which the CNCF has numbers, developer contributions had increased by 385 percentage. That’s a ton of momentum.

Cue the investors

When you have those two ingredients in place — developers and big vendors — you can begin to gain velocity. As more companies and more developers arrive, the community continues to grow, and that’s what we’ve been considering with Kubernetes.

As that happens, it typically doesn’t take long for investors to take notice, and according to CNCF, there has been over$ 4 billion in investments so far in cloud native companies — this from a project designed didn’t even exist that long ago.

Photo: Fitria Ramli/ EyeEm on Getty Images.

That investment has taken the form of venture capital fund startups trying to build something on top of Kubernetes, and we’ve seen some big raises. Earlier this month, Hasura created a $1.6 M seed round for a packaged version Kubernetes designed specially to meet the needs of developers. Just last week, Upbound, a new startup from Seattle get$ 9 million in its Series A round to help manage multi-cluster and multi-cloud environments in a standard( cloud-native) way. A little farther up the maturity curve, Heptio has raised over $33 million with its most recent round being a $25 million Series B last September. Finally, there is CoreOS, which raised virtually $50 million before being sold to Red Hat for $250 million in January.

CoreOS wasn’t alone by any means as we’ve find other exits coming over the last year or two with organizations scooping up cloud native startups. In particular, when you consider the largest organizations like Microsoft, Oracle and Red Hat buying relatively young startups, they are often go looking for talent, customers and products to get up to speed more quickly in a growing technology region like Kubernetes.

Growing an economic ecosystem

Kubernetes has grown and developed into an economic powerhouse in short period of time as dozens of side projects have developed around it, making even more opportunity for companies of all sizes to build products and services to meet an ever-growing situated of required in a virtuous cycle of investment, invention and economic activity.

Cloud Native Computing Foundation projects. Photo: Cloud Native Computing Foundation

If this project continues to grow, chances are it will gain even more investment as companies continue to flow toward containers and Kubernetes, and even more startups develop to help create products to satisfy new needs as a result.

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Red Hat acquires CoreOS for $250 million in Kubernetes expansion

Red Hat, a company best known for its enterprise Linux products, has been making a big play for Kubernetes and containerization in recent years with its OpenShift Kubernetes product. Today the company decided to expand on that by acquiring CoreOS, a receptacle management startup, for $250 million.

The company’s core products include CoreOS, a Linux distribution and Tectonic, a receptacle management solution based on the open source Kubernetes container orchestration platform, originally developed by Google.( For more information on receptacles, see this article .)

CoreOs and Red Hat have been among the top contributors to Kubernetes, along with Google, FathomDB, ZTE Corporation, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Fujitsu and Mirantis.

Perhaps by working so closely on Kubernetes, CoreOS and Red Hat formed a bond, and it eventually constructed sense for them to come together and share customers and brain power. The companies also had vying Linux distros with CoreOS and Red Hat Atomic concentrating on containers, and perhaps the two can find some common developer ground by blending the two.

If the next generation of software is going to be in a hybrid cloud world where proportion lives on prem in the data center and its participation in the public cloud, having a cloud-native textile to deliver applications in a single route is going to be critical. Red Hat’s president of products and technologies, Paul Cormier said that the combined companies are providing a powerful route to span environments.

“The next epoch of technology is being driven by container-based applications that span multi- and hybrid cloud surroundings, including physical, virtual, private cloud and public cloud platforms. Kubernetes, receptacles and Linux are at the heart of this transformation, and like Red Hat, CoreOS has been a leader in both the upstream open source communities that are fueling these innovative new its work to bring enterprise-grade Kubernetes to customers, ” Cormier said in a statement.

As CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi told me in an interview last year, “As a company we helped make the whole container category alongside Google, Docker and Red Hat. We helped create a whole new category of infrastructure, ” he said.

His company was early to the game by developing an enterprise Kubernetes product, and he was able to capitalize on that. “We called Kubernetes super-duper early and helped enterprises like Ticketmaster and Starbucks adopt Kubernetes, ” he said.

He has pointed out that Tectonic included four main categories, including governance, monitoring tools, chargeback accounting and one-click upgrades.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst told us in an interview last year that his company also came early to containers and Kubernetes. He said the company recognise containers included an operating system kernel, which was usually Linux. One thing they understood was Linux, so they have begun delving into Kubernetes and containerization and built OpenShift.

CoreOS has raised $50 million since its inception in 2013. Investors include GV( formerly Google Ventures) and Kleiner Perkins, which appear to have gotten nice returns. The most recent round was a $28 million Series B in May 2016 led by GV. One interesting aside is that Google, which has been a big contributor to Kubernetes itself and whose venture limb helped finance CoreOS, was scooped by Red Hat in this deal.

The deal is expected to close this month, and devoted we only have one day left, chances are it’s done.

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Cloud Foundry makes its mark on the enterprise

Today, more than ever, its open source projects that are leading the charge in how modern software is developed, deployed and managed. Theres Kubernetes for receptacles and OpenStack for running enterprise-grade infrastructure, for example. But over the course of the last few years, another platform Cloud Foundry has changed the way enterprises are developing their internal and external services.

Cloud Foundry falls under the platform-as-a-service( PaaS) umbrella, which essentially builds it the PaaS counterpart to OpenStacks infrastructure-as-a-service. The promise of Cloud Foundry is that it abstracts all of the grunt work of running the infrastructure and more high-level services like databases away and dedicates developers a single platform to write their applications for.

The premise here is that what sits underneath Cloud Foundry shouldnt have to matter to the developer. That can be an on-premises OpenStack cloud or a public cloud like AWS, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Bluemix or Azure. This is something that means that companies get the ability to move their applications from one cloud to another( or use multiple clouds simultaneously) without having to adapt their code to every cloud peculiarities. As Cloud Foundry Foundation CTO Chip Childers told me, the project wants to induce developers happy( and productive ).

While Cloud Foundrys history dates back to 2011, when VMware launched the first version, the Cloud Foundry Foundation that now shepherds the project with the help of the Linux Foundation, merely launched in 2015. While the project saw its fair share of success before this, its actually come into its own since. Half of the Fortune 500 now use Cloud Foundry in some for or another.

Because enterprises move slowly and often have to keep a lot of older software around, many havent constructed the full switching yet but plenty of them are now constructing all of their new software on top of Cloud Foundry. Even some of the biggest users may merely operate 10 percentage of their applications on Cloud Foundry, but going forward, thats the platform they are betting on.

A lot of them are focused on their path forward, Cloud Foundry Foundation executive editor Abby Kearns told me. For many of them, their digital transformation is also early days and I think we all know that for an enterprise transformation can take seven to eight years and for some of them it can take longer.

To help company employees build the switch easier, Cloud Foundry dedicates them the ability to write in the language of their choosing. The objective of Cloud Foundry is to set more of the controls back in the hands of developers so that they are able to self-provision, so there arent a lot of roadblocks in their style. But it dedicates a lot of guardrails.

In addition, the Foundation also now offers a certification program that trains developers in both utilizing the platform and cloud-native development patterns in general.

This week, Cloud Foundry hosted its annual developer meeting and speakers there ranged from Allstate and Liberty Mutual to Ford, Home Depot, Google, Microsoft, SAP, IBM and plenty of startups that are now offering their own services to these companies. All of these companies are Cloud Foundry Foundation members and its a sign of the times that Google, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, VMware, Cisco, DellEMC, Pivotal and others are all coming together here to build this project.

With Microsoft and Google on board, the company thats obviously missing from this lineup is Amazon with its AWS cloud. I dont expect theyll sign on anytime soon. Its users, however, are deploying Cloud Foundry on AWS already so it would probably be in their best interest to have a word in how the platform evolves.

As Childers emphasized, the project isnt so much about open source as it is about shared research and growth. That induces the projects doctrine at bit different from that of other open source projects( and its governance model is also a little bit different from other Linux Foundation projects ), though at the end of the day, the result is very similar.

Looking ahead, Childers argued that the foundation is patently not a product company, so its roadmap is very much up to the members and various sub-projects and because many of the commercial vendors that are part of the overall attempt have their own roadmaps, its hard to really predict where exactly the project is going.

One of the more hyped theories in the enterprise space right now is serverless computing, for example. The Cloud Foundry foundation hasnt quite jumped on this bandwagon yet. Childers highlights the fact that because enterprises arent really looking at this year but he also acknowledges that there may arrive a hour when the project will look at this. Were in a weird place where we want to install innovation in the ecosystem, Childers said. Sometimes it makes sense to do a directed move to say this constructs sense there are a lot of options out there but we think this is the right one that constructs sense in the overall platform were releasing. Were not at the time where we think thats the right answer. [] We dont chase squirrels.

Another area the project is actively looking at is unikernels a conception thats slowly bubbling again, especially after Dockers acquisition of Unikernel System. In addition, the group is also looking at how Cloud Foundry can play an important role in the recent pushing to bringing more compute power to the edge of the network( which in itself is an interesting change after years of working to bring calculate to centralized clouds ).

Innovation is hard. And we as their home communities are going to explore thing, Childers said. Sometimes they are going to bear fruit and sometimes, perhaps they dont. Now that Cloud Foundry has a stable core in place, well likely insure more of these explorations in the coming months and years, especially as enterprises are looking how they can not just leverage the cloud in general but also how they can work with the best use of breed services from multiple cloud vendors simultaneously.

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