KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe: Another Milestone Event for Kubernetes, but Don’t Expect a Developer-Led, Infrastructure-Agnostic World Anytime Soon

C. Drake

Summary Bullets:

  • Last week’s KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe conference in Denmark demonstrated the extent to which Kubernetes has become the industry standard for orchestrating and managing cloud-native applications.
  • The conference saw Kubernetes announcements from Cisco, Red Hat, and Oracle, illustrating the growing commitment of data center infrastructure vendors to open source and application performance management (APM) technologies.

Last week’s KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe conference in Denmark saw over 4,000 people descend on Copenhagen’s Bella Center for three days of keynote presentations, technical discussions, and networking with a focus on containers, microservices, serverless computing, and the challenges and options facing cloud-native application development.

The conference was partly a testimony to the growing popularity of the open source software ecosystem that currently sits under the nurturing leadership of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The CNCF serves as a vendor-neutral home for 20 projects committed to container orchestration as part of a microservices architecture. Projects are grouped into three categories – ‘graduated,’ ‘incubating,’ or ‘sandbox’ – depending on their level of maturity, and defined according to criteria that include the number of organizations committed to a project and the number of independent end users successfully exploiting the technology in production. Although Kubernetes is currently the only CNCF project to have reached graduated status, the Foundation expects others to ‘graduate’ in the near future, including Fluentd, a data logging technology, and Envoy, an edge and service proxy for cloud-native applications. Graduate status for these projects would help give further momentum and adoption/support potential, both to the projects and the wider CNCF ecosystem.

Opening the conference, the CNCF welcomed 34 new members to the Foundation, while declaring that membership had now crossed the 200 mark. New members include both end users and solution vendors from North America, Europe, and Asia, reflecting widespread geographical support for the CNCF and its projects. The CNCF also announced 20 new Kubernetes Certified Service Providers (KCSPs) – pre-qualified organizations experienced in helping enterprises successfully adopt Kubernetes – and 22 new Certified Kubernetes vendors, which offer Kubernetes products certified through the Conformance Program (the latter was launched in November to ensure that certified Kubernetes products deliver consistency and portability). Collectively, these new members help to ensure a more consistent and standardized approach to Kubernetes product delivery, while giving end users more choice in terms of a solution partner.

Kubernetes dominated almost every discussion at last week’s conference, demonstrating the extent to which this open source technology has become the industry standard for orchestrating and managing cloud-native applications. Announcements from technology vendors gave further testimony to the unstoppable power of Kubernetes. Examples include the launch of a new managed Kubernetes service from application platform provider Digital Ocean, as well as the market debut of Upbound, a US$9 million startup offering multicloud management tools based on Kubernetes.

There were also plenty of announcements from traditional data center solutions vendors, including Oracle, which announced improvements to the Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes, and Red Hat, which unveiled its new Operator Framework, an open source project originally built by CoreOS (now owned by Red Hat) that specifies tools for maintaining and managing Kubernetes clusters.

The conference also coincided with the announcement from Cisco that its CloudCenter multicloud management offering and AppDynamics application optimization solution (which Cisco acquired in early 2017 for a hefty US$3.7 million) were both to benefit from new Kubernetes integration (also see “Cisco Makes Good on Pricey AppDynamics Acquisition with New Kubernetes Integrations”). These announcements illustrate the extent to which traditional IT infrastructure providers are committed to equipping developers with APM tools that can be applied regardless of the underlying infrastructure environment. These commitments point to a longer-term goal of organizations committed to the CNCF and its projects: full application layer abstraction.

Feeding on the buzz in the exhibitors’ hall and enjoying the spring sunshine beating in through the Bella Center’s glass-paneled roof, one might be forgiven for thinking that the vision of a serverless, developer-led, infrastructure-agnostic world had already been achieved. But it’s important to remember that the majority of CNCF projects and initiatives remain works in progress. Furthermore, despite the growing availability of, and interest in, APM technologies, many enterprises continue to face organizational and process obstacles to their adoption and successful use. Meanwhile, infrastructure continues to matter, a fact that is not lost on the traditional hardware vendors. Despite their increasing commitment to open source and APM technologies, traditional kit vendors will continue to safeguard their infrastructure businesses. Meanwhile, it seems that Kubernetes is here to stay and we should expect to see further major initiatives around Kubernetes by the time of the Shanghai and Seattle KubeCon events later this year.

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