Notes From KubeCon
I love technical conferences. There is no other place you find so many brilliant people under one roof, and have such stimulating conversations. It almost feels like walking into a Starbucks on a Saturday, in San Francisco Bay Area or Seattle, and finding smart people discussing ideas for launching new startups. My first startup also was conceived in a coffee shop, so I do have some nostalgic and emotional attachments to the idea.
This year, Seattle hosted KubeCon, the annual Kubernetes conference, on November 8-9. I could not have passed up such great opportunity since we don’t get a lot of events like this in Seattle.
Containerized applications allow companies to build applications at a rapid pace, and put business applications in the hands of customers quickly, addressing business challenges. Modern cluster infrastructure is designed to meet these needs. However the business applications and services are being developed with a lot of assumptions about their environments that result in the impedance mismatch between the applications and the infrastructure. Kubernetes, built for managing containerized applications across a cluster of nodes in a cloud, is designed to address this disconnect.
Many brilliant minds in industry that are tackling some of the most difficult problems in deployment, monitoring and management of containerized applications, especially using Kubernetes, gathered at KubeCon, and I really enjoyed the insightful conversations. Most of the presentations were high quality, but my biggest interest was at the exhibit floor. I spent the day on the exhibit floor, having conversations with the vendors, understanding their offering, watching demos, and discussing their roadmaps. The good news is that there is a lot of excitement and activities around Kubernetes, and an impressive array of software is being offered.
All of the products were very technical, requiring deep understanding and knowledge of deployment, networking and orchestration technologies, and focused on solving technical problems. Some of the companies are offering open source tools for packaging and distribution of applications and services, targeted at Kubernetes. Security is another area getting a lot of attention. Some of software is targeting the thorny issue of probing and troubleshooting containerized applications, and looks very impressive. Monitoring helps identify the production issues early. There were multiple open source software offered in the area of monitoring deployed applications in the cloud, targeted at operations engineers. Virtual network enable a data center network to provision the most suitable and efficient networking structure, using software rather than requiring physical hardware. Although Kubernetes comes with a virtual network overlay, complex network configurations require more intricate constructs. Open source network virtualization is another hot area, and there were several vendors offering virtual network overlays for Kubernetes. These software were highly technical and targeted experts in networking. Some of the companies offered solutions to automatically launch Kubernetes cluster. Once the Kubernetes cluster is launched, the user can deploy applications using command line interface of Kubernetes kubectl on targeted clusters. The use of Kubernetes, however, still requires expert level knowledge in Kubernetes, and deep familiarity with the nuances of deployment and orchestration of containers.
Although there was an impressive array of software, and some of the offerings were very innovative, I felt that something was sorely missing. Microservices and containers, such as Docker, and orchestration technologies, such as Kubernetes, are transformative technologies, to help organizations become agile, and meet rapidly changing market demands. With the help of these technologies, organizations need to develop the agility to counter the forces of digital disruption. The purpose of Kubernetes and Docker is to solve a business problem – to accelerate business innovation and growth. At the end of the day, what is needed is a comprehensive business solution, which brings all aspects of deploying, monitoring and managing the applications in one place, including the financial aspects, access control, costing, metadata, etc., with a simple and intuitive interface. All the solutions I saw in KubeCon were technology centric, and were solving one piece of the puzzle. There certainly is a need for software that builds a business solution around Kubernetes and Docker technologies and provides solution not just for IT managers, but CFOs and business leaders as well.