Kubernetes Grows Up – The View from KubeCon EU 2019

Our little Kubernetes is growing up.

By “growing up” I mean it is almost in a state that a mainstream company can consider it fit for production. While there are several factors that act as a drag against mainstream reception, a lack of completeness has been a major force against Kubernetes broader acceptance. Completeness, in this context, means that all the parts of an enterprise platform are available off the shelf and won’t require a major engineering effort on the part of conventional IT departments.

The good news from KubeCon+CloudNativeCon EU 2019 in Barcelona, Spain (May 20 – 23 2019) is that the Kubernetes and related communities are zeroing in on that ever so important target. There are a number of markers pointing toward mainstream acceptance. Projects are filling out the infrastructure – gaining completeness – and the community is growing.

Project Updates

While Kubernetes may be at the core, there are many supporting projects that are striving to add capabilities to the ecosystem that will result in a more complete platform for microservices. Some of the projects featured in the project updates show the drive for completeness. For example, OpenEBS and Rook are two projects striving to make container storage more enterprise friendly. Updates to both projects were announced at the conference. Storage, like networking, is an area that must be tackled before mainstream IT can seriously consider container microservices platforms based on Kubernetes.

Managing microservices performance and failure is a big part of the ability to deploy containers at scale. For this reason, the announcement that two projects that provide application tracing capabilities, OpenTracing and OpenCensus, were merging into OpenTelemetry is especially important. Ultimately, developers need a unified approach to gathering data for managing container-based applications at scale. Removing duplication of effort and competing agendas will speed up the realization of that vision.

Also announced at KubeCon+CloudNativeCon EU 2019 were updates to Helm and Harbor, two projects that tackle thorny issues of packaging and distributing containers to Kubernetes. These are necessary parts of the process of deploying Kubernetes applications. Securely managing container lifecycles through packaging and repositories is a key component of DevOps support for new container architectures. Forward momentum in these projects is forward movement toward the mainstream.

There were other project updates, including updates to Kubernetes itself and Crio-io. Clearly, the community is filling in the blank spots in container architectures, making Kubernetes a more viable application platform for everyone.

The Community is Growing

Another gauge pointing toward mainstream acceptance is the growth in the community. The bigger the community, the more hands to do the work and the better the chances of achieving feature critical mass. This year in Barcelona, KubeCon+CloudNativeCon EU saw 7700 attendees, nearly twice last year in Copenhagen. In the core Kubernetes project, there are 164K commits and 1.2M comments in Github. This speaks to broad involvement in making Kubernetes better. Completeness requires lots of work and that is more achievable when there are more people involved.

Unfortunately, as Cheryl Hung, Director of Ecosystems at CNCF says, only 3% of contributors are women. The alarming lack of diversity in the IT industry shows up even in Kubernetes despite the high-profile women involved in the conference such as Janet Kuo of Google. Diversity brings more and different ideas to a project and it would be great to see the participation of women grow.

Service Mesh Was the Talk of the Town

The number of conversations I had about service mesh was astounding. It’s true that I had released a pair of papers on it, one just before KubeCon+CloudNativeCon EU 2019. That may have explained why people want to talk to me about it but not the general buzz. There was service mesh talk in the halls, at lunch, in sessions, and from the mainstage. It’s pretty much what everyone wanted to know about. That’s not surprising since a service mesh is going to be a vital part of large scale-out microservices applications. What was surprising was that even attendees who were new to Kubernetes were keen to know more. This was a very good omen.

It certainly helped that there was a big service mesh related announcement from the mainstage on Tuesday. Microsoft, in conjunction with a host of companies, announced the Service Mesh Interface. It’s a common API for different vendor and project service mesh components. Think of it as a lingua franca of service mesh. There were shout-outs to Linkerd and Solo.io. The latter especially had much to do with creating SMI. The fast maturation of the service mesh segment of the Kubernetes market is another stepping stone toward the completeness necessary for mainstream adoption.

Already Way Too Many Distros

There were a lot of Kubernetes distributions a KubeCon+CloudNativeCon EU 2019. A lot. Really.  A lot. While this is a testimony the growth in Kubernetes as a platform, it’s confusing to IT professionals making choices. Some are managed cloud services; others are distributions for on-premises or when you want to install your own on a cloud instance. Here’s some of the Kubernetes distros I saw on the expo floor.  I’m sure I missed a few:

Microsoft Azure Google Digital Ocean Alibaba
Canonical (Ubuntu) Oracle IBM Red Hat
VMWare SUSE Rancher Pivotal
Mirantis Platform9

 

From what I hear this is a sample, not a comprehensive, list. The dark side of this enormous choice is confusion. Choosing is hard when you get beyond a handful of options. Still, only five years into the evolution of Kubernetes, it’s a good sign to see this much commercial support for it.

The Kubernetes and Cloud Native architecture is like a teenager. It’s growing rapidly but not quite done. As the industry fills in the blanks and as communities better networking, storage, and deployment capabilities, it will go mainstream and become applicable to companies of all sizes and types. Soon. Not yet but very soon.

Press Release: Amalgam Insights’ Tom Petrocelli: Service Mesh Market Continues to Grow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

For more information:

​Steve Friedberg

​MMI Communications for Amalgam Insights

​484.550.2900

steve@amalgaminsights.com

AMALGAM INSIGHTS: Service mesh market continues to grow, even as “the market is not as mature as the technology”

New research report finds while service mesh is “a required part of a system based on microservices,” platform battle causes “conflict and confusion”

BOSTON, May 15, 2019 — A new SmartListMarketGuide™ from industry analysts Amalgam Insights finds that the market for service mesh technologies and products is still evolving, saying service mesh increasingly represents a required part of a system based on microservices and is likely to be as standard as a web server in an Internet application.

Research Fellow Tom Petrocelli reports, “As is often the case with a developing market, there is an abundance of vendors, open source projects, and other resources available to system architects looking to implement a service mesh in a microservices architecture.” His new SmartList Market Guide complements Amalgam Insights’ “Service Mesh Primer,” which was issued last month.

Service mesh has become more important to companies seeking to modernize their IT infrastructure. Petrocelli notes that service mesh is highly scalable, resilient, and easier to update minimizing the amount of processing affected by a system failure and allowing for systems to scale up without losing resiliency. It also costs less to scale since microservices make better use of unused system capacity.

But the report cites an ongoing “unfortunate rivalry” between the Istio and Linkerd platforms. Companies like IBM, Red Hat, Google and Lyft are supporting Istio, with the Linux Foundation’s CNCF leading open source development efforts for Linkerd, which is championed by Buoyant and Envoy. Petrocelli says while neither side is currently winning the fight, Istio’s alignment with major organizations “is causing supporting vendors to pour resources into Istio/Envoy which practically ensures that Istio/Envoy will succeed. The concern that Amalgam Insights has with this arrangement is that the control plane (Istio) is not open governance. This calls into question its future independence.”

Petrocelli concludes that “the ongoing Istio versus Linkerd debate will act as a drag on the market. It introduces unnecessary conflict, confusion, and distraction. Not only is this unfortunate but unnecessary. There is plenty of headroom for many vendors and approaches.” Nevertheless, he says emerging innovations like a service mesh orchestrator “will be especially important for multi-cloud and hybrid environments that may be running service meshes with different technology.”

Companies prominently mentioned in the report include NGINX and Aspen Mesh, which are now part of Vamp, F5, Solo IO, Buoyant, A10, Red Hat, HashiCorp and IBM.

Petrocelli’s report is available for download at no charge for one week at www.amalgaminsights.com; after that, it will be available for individual license for $500 after that, with vendor licensing available.

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About Amalgam Insights

Amalgam Insights (www.amalgaminsights.com) is a community of visionaries focused on maximizing the business outcomes of technology. We focus on the trends, findings, and strategies that translate leading data, cognitive, and coding technologies into professional value.

Tactically, AI focuses on the following practices that augment and increase the value of technology: Technology Expense Management, IT Financial Management, FinOps, Enterprise Performance Management, DevOps, Blockchain, Open Source Development, Enterprise Training and Learning Development, and Data Science and Machine Learning.

How Red Hat Runs

This past week at Red Hat Summit 2019 (May 7 – 9 2019) has been exhausting. It’s not an overstatement to say that they run analysts ragged at their events, but that’s not why the conference made me tired. It was the sheer energy of the show, the kind of energy that keeps you running with no sleep for three days straight. That energy came from two sources – excitement and fear.

Two announcements, in particular, generated joy amongst the devoted Red Hat fans. The first was the announcement of Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 8, better known as RHEL8. RHEL is the granddaddy of all major Linux distributions for the data center. RHEL8, however, doesn’t seem all that old. As well as all the typical enhancements to the kernel and other parts of the distro, Red Hat has added two killer features to RHEL.

The first, the web console, is a real winner. It provides a secure browser-based system to manage all the features of Linux that one typically needs a command line on the server to perform. Now, using Telnet or SSH to log in to a remote box and do a few adjustments is no big deal when you have a small number of machines, physical or virtual, in a data center. When there are thousands of machines to care for, this is too cumbersome. With web console plus Red Hat Satellite, the same type of system maintenance is much more efficient. It even has a terminal built in if the command line is the only option. I predict that the web console will be an especially useful asset to new sysadmins who have yet to learn the intricacies of the Linux command line (or just don’t want to).

The new image builder is also going to be a big help for DevOps teams. Image builder uses a point and click interface to build images of software stacks, based on RHEL of course, that can be instantiated over and over. Creating consistent environments for developers and testing is a major pain for DevOps teams. The ability to quickly and easily create and deploy images will take away a major impediment to smooth DevOps pipelines.

The second announcement that gained a lot of attention was the impending GA of OpenShift 4 represents a major change in the Red Hat container platform. It incorporates all the container automation goodness that Red Hat acquired from CoreOS, especially the operator framework. Operators are key to automating container clusters, something that is desperately needed for large scale production clusters. While Kubernetes has added a lot of features to help with some automation tasks, such as autoscaling, that’s not nearly enough for managing clusters at hyperscale or across hybrid clouds. Operators are a step in that direction, especially as Red Hat makes it easier to use Operators.

Speaking of OpenShift, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft appeared on the mainstage to help announce Azure Red Hat OpenShift. This would have been considered a mortal sin at pre-Nadella Microsoft and highlights the acceptance of Linux and open source at the Windows farm. Azure Red Hat OpenShift is an implementation of OpenShift as a native Azure service. This matters a lot to those serious about multi-cloud deployments. Software that is not a native service for a cloud service provider do not have the integrations for billing, management, and especially set up that native services do. That makes them second class citizens in the cloud ecosystem. Azure Red Hat OpenShift elevates the platform to first-class status in the Azure environment.

Now for the fear. Although Red Hat went to considerable lengths to address the “blue elephant in the room”, to the point of bringing Ginny Rometty, IBM CEO on stage, the unease around the acquisition by IBM was palpable amongst Red Hat customers. Many that I spoke to were clearly afraid that IBM would ruin Red Hat. Rometty, of course, insisted that was not the case, going so far as to say that she “didn’t spend $34B on Red Hat to destroy them.”

That was cold comfort to Red Hat partners and customers who have seen tech mergers start with the best intentions and end in disaster. Many attendees I spoke drew parallels with the Oracle acquisition of Sun. Sun was, in fact, the Red Hat of its time – innovative, nimble, and with fierce loyalists amongst the technical staff. While products created by Sun still exist today, especially Java and MySQL, the essence of Sun was ruined in the acquisition. That is a giant cloud hanging over the IBM-Red Hat deal. For all the advantages that this deal brings to both companies and the open source community, the potential for a train wreck exists and that is a source of angst in the Red Hat and open source world.

In 2019, Red Hat is looking good and may have a great future. Or it is on the brink of disaster. The path they will take now depends on IBM. If IBM leaves them alone, it may turn out to be an amazing deal and the capstone of Rometty and Jim Whitehurst’s careers. If IBM allows internal bureaucracy and politics to change the current plan for Red Hat, it will be Sun version 2. Otherwise, it is expected that Red Hat will continue to make open source enterprise-friendly and drive open source communities. That would be very nice indeed.

Amalgam Insights Publishes Highly Anticipated SmartList on Service Mesh and Microservices Management

Amalgam Insights has just published my highly anticipated SmartList Market Guide on Service Mesh. It is currently available this week at no cost as we prepare for KubeCon and CloudNativeCon Europe 2019 where I’ll be attending.

Before you go to the event, get prepared by catching up on the key strategies, trends, and vendors associated with microservices and service mesh. For instance, consider how the Service Mesh market is currently constructed.

To get a deep dive on this figure regarding the three key sectors of the Service Mesh market, gain insights describing the current State of the Market for service mesh, and learn where key vendors and products including Istio, Linkerd, A10, Amazon, Aspen Mesh, Buoyant, Google, Hashicorp, IBM, NGINX, Red Hat, Solo.io, Vamp, and more fit into today’s microservices management environment, download my report today.

Docker Enterprise 3.0 is the Docker We’ve Been Waiting For

For the past few years, one of the big questions in the software industry has been what direction Docker would take. Much of their unique intellectual property, such as Docker images, had been open sourced and many of their products have underperformed. Docker Swarm is an excellent example of a product that was too little too late. While loved by Docker customers I spoke with, Docker Swarm simply couldn’t surf the swell that is the

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Google Goes Corporate at Google Next

There’s no doubt that Google exists to make money. They make money by getting companies to buy their services. When it comes to selling ads on search engines, Google is number one. When it comes to their cloud business, Google is… well, number three.

I’m guessing that irks them a bit especially since they sit behind a company whose main business is selling whatever stuff people want to sell and a company that made its name in the first wave of PCs. Basically, a department store and a dinosaur are beating them at what should be their game.

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Coming Attractions: Groundbreaking Service Mesh Research

In early January, I started researching the service mesh market. To oversimplify, a service mesh is a way of providing for the kind of network services necessary for enterprise applications deployed using a microservices architecture. Since most microservices architectures are being deployed within containers and, most often, managed and orchestrated using Kubernetes, service mesh technology will have a major impact on the adoption of these markets.

As I began writing the original paper, I quickly realized that an explanation of service mesh technology was necessary to understand the dynamic of the service mesh market. Creating a primer on service mesh and a market guide turned out to be too much for one paper. It was unbearably long. Subsequently, the paper was split into two papers, a Technical Guide and a Market Guide.

The Technical Guide is a quick primer on service mesh technology and how it is used to enhance microservices architectures, especially within the context of containers and Kubernetes. The Market Guide outlines the structure of the market for service mesh products and open source projects, discusses many of the major players, and talks to the current Istio versus Linkerd controversy. The latter is actually a non-issue that has taken on more importance than it should given the nascence of the market.

The Technical Guide will be released next week, just prior to Cloud Foundry Summit. Even though service mesh companies seem to be focused on Kubernetes, anytime there is a microservices architecture, there will be a service mesh. This is true for microservices implemented using Cloud Foundry containers.

The Market Guide will be published roughly a month later, before Red Hat Summit and KubeCon+CloudNative Summit Europe, which I will be attending. Most of the vendors discussed in the Market Guide will be in attendance at one or the other conference. Read the report before going so that you know who to talk to if you are attending these conferences.

A service mesh is a necessary part of emerging microservices architectures. These papers will hopefully get you started on your journey to deploying one.

Note: Vendors interested in leveraging this research for commercial usage are invited to contact Lisa Lincoln (lisa@amalgaminghts.com).

 

Network Big Iron f5 Acquires Software Network Vendor NGINX

I woke up last Tuesday (March 12, 2019) to find an interesting announcement in my inbox. NGINX, the software networking company, well known for its NGINX web server/load balancer, was being acquired by f5. f5 is best known for its network appliances which implement network security, load balancing, etc. in data centers. The deal was…

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The View from KubeCon+CloudNativeCon – Containers and Kubernetes Become Enterprise Ready

In case there was any doubt about the direction containers and Kubernetes are going, KubeCon+CloudNativeCon 2018 in Seattle should have dispelled them. The path is clear – technology is maturing and keeps adding more features that make it conducive to mission-critical, enterprise applications. From the very first day, the talk was about service meshes and network functions, logging and traceability, and storage and serverless compute. These are couplets that define the next generation of management, visibility, and core capabilities of a modern distributed application. On top of that is emerging security projects such as SPIFFE & SPIRE, TUF, Falco, and Notary. Management, visibility, growth in core functionality, and security. All of these are critical to making container platforms enterprise ready.

“The future of containers and Kubernetes as the base of the new stack was on display at KubeCon+CloudNativeCon and it’s a bright one.

Tom Petrocelli, Research Fellow, Amalgam Insights”

If the scope of KubeCon+CloudNativeCon and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is any indication, the ecosystem is also growing. This year there were 8000 people at the conference – a sellout. The CNCF has grown to 300+ vendor members there are 46,000 contributors to its projects. That’s a lot of growth compared to just a few years ago. This many people don’t flock to sinking projects.

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Containers Continue on Track for 2019: 3 Key Trends For the Maturing Container Ecosystem

Tom Petrocelli, Amalgam Insights Research Fellow

The past few years have been exciting ones for containers. All types of tools are available and a defined deployment pipeline has begun to emerge. Kubernetes and Docker have come to dominate the core technology. That, in turn, has brought the type of stability that allows for wide-scale deployments. The container ecosystem has exploded with lots of new software components that help maintain, manage, and operate container networks. Capabilities such as logging, load balancing, networking, and security that were previously the domain of system-wide software and appliances are now being brought into the individual application as components in the container cluster.

Open Source has played a big part in this process. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation, or CNCF, has projects for all things container. More are added every day. That is in addition to the many other open source projects that support container architectures. The ecosystem just keeps growing.

Where do we go from here, at least through 2019?

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