Standing in the main expo hall of KubeCon+CloudNativeCon Europe 2018 in Copenhagen, the richness of the Kubernetes ecosystem is readily apparent. There are booths everywhere, addressing all the infrastructure needs for an enterprise cluster. There are meetings everywhere for the open source projects that make up the Kubernetes and Cloud Native base of technology. The keynotes are full. What was a 500-person conference in 2012 is now, 6 years later, a 4300-person conference even though it’s not in one of the hotbeds of American technology such as San Francisco or New York City.
What is amazing is how much Kubernetes has grown in such a short amount of time. It was only a little more than a year ago that Docker released its Kubernetes competitor called Swarm. While Swarm still exists, Docker also supports, and arguably is betting the future, on Kubernetes.
Kubernetes came out of Google, but that doesn’t really explain why it expanded like the early universe after the Big Bang. Google is not the market leader in the cloud space – it’s one of the top vendors but not the top vendor – and wouldn’t have provided enough market pull to drive the Kubernetes engine this hot. Google is also not a major enterprise infrastructure software vendor the way IBM, Microsoft, or even Red Hat and Canonical are.
Kubernetes benefited from the first mover effect. They were early into the market with container orchestration, were fully open source, and had a large amount of testing in Google’s own environment. Docker Swarm, on the other hand, was too closely tied to Docker, the company, to appease the open source gods.
Now, Kubernetes finds itself like a new college graduate. It’s all grown up but needs to prepare for the real world. The basics are all in place and it’s mature but there is an enormous amount of refinement and holes that need to be filled in for it to be a common part of every enterprise software infrastructure. KubeCon+CloudNativeCon shows that this is well underway. The focus now is on security, monitoring, network improvement, and scalability. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of concern about stability or basic functionality.
Kubernetes has eaten the container world and didn’t get indigestion. That’s rare and wonderful.