For a technology that the average person has probably never heard of, Kubernetes surged in popularity in 2017 with a particular group of IT pros who are working with container technology. Kubernetes is the orchestration engine that underlies how operations staff deploy and manage receptacles at scale.( For the low-down on containers, check out this article .)
In plain English, that means that as the number of receptacles grows then you need a tool to help launching and track them all. And because the idea of receptacles — and the so-called “microservices” model it enables — is to break down a complex monolithic app into much smaller and more manageable pieces, the number of receptacles tends to increase over day. Kubernetes has become the de facto criterion tool for that job.
Kubernetes is actually an open source project, originally developed at Google, which is managed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation( CNCF ). Over the last year, we’ve considered some of the biggest names in tech flocking to the CNCF including AWS, Oracle, Microsoft and others, in large proportion since they are want to have some influence over the development of Kubernetes.
As Kubernetes has gained momentum, it has become a platform for invention and business ideas( as tends to happen with popular open source projects ). Once you get beyond the early adopters, companies start to see opportunities to help customers who want to move to the new technology, but lack internal expertise. Companies can create commercial opportunities by hiding some of the underlying complexity associated with using a tool like this.
We are starting to see this in a big way with Kubernetes as companies begin to build products based on the open source that delivers a more a packaged approach that makes it easier to use and enforce without having to learn all of the tool’s nuances.
To give you a sense of how quickly usage had increased, 451 Research did a receptacle survey in 2015 and observed merely 10 percent of respondents were using some sort of container orchestration tool, whether Kubernetes or a competitor. Just two years later in a follow-up survey, 451 found that 71% of respondents were use Kubernetes to manage their containers.
Google’s Sam Ramji, who is VP of product management at Google( and was formerly CEO at Cloud Foundry Foundation ), says it feels like an overnight sensation, but like many things it was a long time in the making. The direct antecedent of Kubernetes is a Google project called Borg. Ramji points out that Google was operating containers in production for a decade before the company released Kubernetes as an open source project in 2014.
“There was almost a decade of container management at scale in Google. It wasn’t an experiment. It was code that ran the Google business at scale on Borg. Kubernetes is built from scratch based on those lessons, ” Ramji said.
Cloud native computing
One of the big drivers behind use Kubernetes and cloud native tools in general is that companies are increasingly operating in a hybrid world where some of their resources are in the cloud and some on-prem in a data center. Tools like Kubernetes provide a framework for managing applications wherever they happen to live in a consistent way.
That consistency is one big reason for its popularity. If IT was forced to manage applications in two different places employing two different tools( or situateds of tools ), it would( and does) create a confusing mess that stimulates it difficult to understand just what resources they are using and where the data is living at any particular moment.
One reason the Cloud Native Computing Foundation is called that( instead of the Kubernetes foundation ), is that Google and other governing members recognize that Kubernetes is only part of the cloud native narrative. It may be a big component, but they want to encourage a much richer system of tools. By naming it more broadly, they are encouraging the open source community to build tools to expand the ability to manage infrastructure in a cloud native fashion.
Big companies on board
If you look at the top 10 contributors to the project, it involves some major technology players, some of whom cross over into OpenStack, Linux and other open source projects.These include Google, Red Hat, CoreOS, FathomDB, ZTE Corporation, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Fujitsu, and Mirantis.
Dan Kohn, the CNCF’s executive director, says these companies have recognized that it’s easier to cooperate around the base technology and vie on higher level tools. “I would describe an analogy back to Linux. People describe Kubernetes as the’ Linux of the cloud’. It’s not that all of these companies have decided to hold hands or are not vying for the same clients. But they have recognized that trying to compete in receptacle orchestration doesn’t have a lot of value, ” he said.
If every company is truly a software company, Capital One is out to the prove it. It was one of the early users of Critical Stack, a tool designed to help build security into the container orchestration process. In fact, it liked it so much it bought the company in 2016, and today it’s releasing Critical Stack in Beta.
This is a critical step toward becoming a commercial product, giving the bank its first entree into software selling.
Capital One is espousing modern applications delivery methods like containerization, and it needed a tool specifically tuned to the security requirements of a financial services company. That’s what Critical Stack purports to give it, and they liked it so much, they believed others who required a similar level of security would too.
Critical Stack comply fully with Kubernetes, the popular receptacle orchestration tool, but it’s been designed to provide a higher level of security than the base product, while giving large organizations like banks a packaged approach to container orchestration.
“One of the many strengths of Kubernetes is its rapid development cycle. You understand how challenging that can be to keep up with that moving target. We have an orchestration layer that has an abstraction away from that. Critical Stack is a stand-alone tool within the ecosystem of tools compatible with Kubernetes, ” Liam Randall, Critical Stack chairperson and co-founder told TechCrunch.
Critical Stack does everything you would expect a Kubernetes distribution to do including managing the receptacle delivery and lifecycle management, but it’s specifically designed to allow operations to automate security and conformity policies around the containers, something banks and other highly governed business need to do.
The company also concentrated on putting that various kinds of functionality in an interface that’s easy to use.
Photo: Critical Stack
While the company isn’t open sourcing this tool, they believe by selling it, they can get a similar situated of benefits. “When you think about a lot of the great platforms, the best lessons learned come from working with other partners, ” Randall said. While he and his team saw a broad set of use examples internally, they felt that getting the product into the hands of others would only help enhance it — and it doesn’t hurt they could attain some money doing it.
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When it comes to container orchestration, it seems clear that Kubernetes, the open source tool developed by Google, has won the battle for operations’ hearts and minds. It therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention that Docker announced native is supportive of Kubernetes today at DockerCon Europe in Copenhagen.
The company hasn’t given up altogether on its own orchestration tool, Docker Swarm, but by offering native Kubernetes support for the first time, it is acknowledging that people are using it in sufficient numbers that they have to build in support. To take the sting away from supporting a rival tool, they are offering an architecture that enables users to select an orchestration engine at run period. That can be Swarm or Kubernetes each time without any need to alter code, Banjot Chanana, head of product at Docker told TechCrunch.
Before today’s announcement, while it was possible to use Kubernetes with Docker, it wasn’t necessarily an easy process. With the new Kubernetes support, it should be far simpler for both Docker Enterprise Edition and Docker Developer Edition users.
Chanana says that because of the route Docker is architected it wasn’t actually that difficult to offer Kubernetes alongside Docker Swarm and do it in a way that it wouldn’t appear or feel like a bolt-on. Docker gives customers a standard way to build program containers . This is usually taken care of by the developer in the DevOps model.
Operations deals with deploying, procuring and managing the receptacles through their lifecycle utilizing an orchestration tool. Over the last couple of years, Kubernetes has been gaining steam as the orchestration tool of option with big names like AWS, Oracle, Microsoft, VMware and Pivotal all to intervene in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation this year, the open source organization that houses the Kubernetes project.
When all of those organizations climbed on the bandwagon, Docker had little choice but to go along to get aligned with customers’ wishings. Docker was able to build in support while keeping is supportive of their own orchestration tool alive, but it’s reasonably clear that Kubernetes has become the orchestration tool that people will be using for the majority of container workloads moving forward.
It’s worth noting that The Info reported the coming week that in 2014 when it was developing Kubernetes, Google offered to collaborate with Docker and let it house the Kubernetes project, but the company decided to develop Swarm and Google moved onto the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Today’s announcement brings them full circle in a sense, as they will be supporting Kubernetes moving forward( even if they don’t house the code ).
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The last day I spoke to Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, in June 2016, he had defined a pretty audacious aim for his company to achieve$ 5 billion in revenue. At the time, that seemed a little bit far-fetched. After all, his company had just become the first open-source company to outstrip $ 2 billion in revenue. Getting to five represented a significant challenge because, as he pointed out, the bigger you get, the harder it becomes to keep the growth trajectory going.
But the company has continued to thrive and is on track to pass$ 3 billion in revenue some time in the next couple of one-quarters. Red Hat is best known for creating a version of Linux designed specifically for the enterprise, but it has been engaged in adapting to the changing world out there with cloud and containers — and as its RHEL( Red Hat Enterprise Linux) customers start to change the way they work( ever so slowly ), they are continuing to use Red Hat for these new technologies. As Whitehurst told me, that’s not a coincidence.
The cloud and containers are built on Linux, and if there is one thing Red Hat knows, it’s Linux. Whitehurst points out the legacy RHEL business is still growing at a healthy 14 percent, but it’s the newer cloud and receptacle business that’s growing like gangbusters at a robust 40 percent, and he says that is really having a positive impact on revenue.
In its most recent earnings report last month, overall revenue was up 21 percentage to $723 million for the one-quarter for a $2.8 billion operate rate. Investors surely seem to like what they are seeing. The share cost has gone on a straight upward trajectory, from a low of $68.71 in December 2016 to $121 per share today, as I wrote such articles. That’s a nice return any style you slice it.
Whitehurst says the different parts of the business are actually feeding one another. The company made an early bet on Kubernetes, the open-source receptacle orchestration tool originally developed at Google. That wager has paid off handsomely as companies are moving toward containerized application delivery employing Kubernetes. In the same way Red Hat packaged Linux in such a way that induced sense for enterprise IT, it’s doing the same thing with Kubernetes with its OpenShift products. In fact, Whitehurst jokes OpenShift would be more widely recognized if they had just put Kubernetes in the name.
While he attributes some of the company’s success in this area to being in the right place at the right time with the right technology, he reckons it’s more than that. “We have some skill in identifying architecture that is best for the enterprise, ” he said. It doesn’t hurt that they also got involved with contributing back to the community early on and today are the second largest contributor to Kubernetes.
But he says the Linux connection, the fact that containers are built on Linux, is truly what is the most likely factor driving the business, and that they can apply what they know in Linux to receptacles is a big deal.
But he points out that large organisations, which are his company’s bread and butter, aren’t all rushing to containerize their entire application inventory. These companies tend to move more slowly than that, and Red Hat is trying to cover them regardless of where they are in that evolution: employing virtual machines in the cloud or on prem or operating containerized applications.
Whitehurst understands his company is selling free software, so they have to add value by easing the implementation and management of these tools for customers. “When you sell free software, you have to obsess about the value it can bring because the IP is free, ” he said. Given the numbers, it would appear clients see that value, and that is contributing to that steady march toward$ 5 billion.
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