KubeCon EU 2020: Importance of CNCF’s Blessing Highlighted Among Cloud Players

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

• OSS wars are heating up between cloud providers vying for larger followings via service mesh solutions

• Hybrid and multi-cloud management solutions are vital for providing enterprises with a gradual move into the cloud

During last week’s mega Kubernetes conference, KubeCon EU, cloud leaders continued to vie for mind share of cloud management offerings in support of advanced Kubernetes deployment scenarios spanning hybrid/multiple clouds and in support of multiple containerized clusters. Heightened controversy between various service mesh technologies further illustrated the importance of having the backing of a standards body like CNCF, and its vast community membership.

The conference (taking place twice annually in the U.S. and Europe) has grown in popularity among DevOps teams for emphasizing the latest on advanced developer tools and techniques for building containerized apps to support a more workload-optimized experience for deployment. On the operations side, attendees sought methods for reducing the complexity of managing Kubernetes containerization of high-performance apps involving machine learning and big data. With these needs in mind, application platforms providers are laser focused on providing enterprises with solutions that improve operational requirements around scaling, monitoring, security, serverless, and service mesh. Three key themes were evident during the conference:

OSS Technologies and Controversies

There’s a lot at stake among vendors that have significantly invested in solutions that are based on leading OSS technologies. Service mesh in particular is a good example and has of late become a contentious topic among leading cloud providers. Recent controversial moves among key players are likely to affect the success of leading standardized configurations. IBM has been vocal over its disappointment in Google’s recent move to donate the Istio OSS project (jointly launched by Google, IBM, and Lyft over three years ago) to Google’s new Open Usage Commons group. IBM has been counting on the technology being donated to the mature and reputable CNCF group for garnering broader industry support and ensuring interest in IBM’s (and others’) service mesh and cloud services.

Just prior to KubeCon, Microsoft announced its own service mesh technology, Open Service Mesh (OSM), along with plans to donate it to CNCF for consideration as a reference implementation of CNCF’s Service Mesh Interface (SMI). OSM serves as an alternative to Istio, Linkerd, and many other technologies, while strengthening Microsoft’s position in the highly competitive and crowded space.

Jockeying Over Cloud Management

Operations teams are looking for more effective ways of managing IT platforms and the modern applications they support, driven by various processes of digital transformations involving growing volumes of data. Efforts to simplify and modernize enterprise IT footprints, via composable or hyperconverged infrastructure, pay-per-use consumption models, and managed solutions, are especially necessary due to distributed applications which extend to multiple edge locations (including IoT) and the cloud.

IBM highlighted its latest multi-cloud brand, IBM Cloud Satellite, for expanding the footprint of IBM Cloud, Cloud Paks, and for extending Red Hat technologies to be delivered as-a-service. IBM faces strong rivals in hybrid and multi-cloud solutions. Innovations among various players are geared towards supporting public, private, edge computing locations, and on-premises, as well as infrastructure technologies, advanced AI/ML and automation to manage and automate workload activities. Vendor solutions include Google Anthos, AWS Outposts, Azure Arc, IBM/Red Hat OpenShift, and VMware Tanzu. All are aimed at providing enterprises with the unification of a common control plane from the public cloud across various locations, and simplifying the workload lifecycle management. Kubernetes based platforms help fulfill hybrid cloud initiatives and serve as the foundation for high-value services such as AI and automation.

Kubernetes Cluster Management

There is a growing need among enterprises to access unified management solutions as multiple containerized clusters grow in use (and complexity) to improve scalability and availability. DevOps teams are looking for more automation and lifecycle management of apps as they struggle to keep up with governance and compliance requirements. Vendors including Microsoft, Red Hat, Rancher, and Mirantis have been investing in solutions to help enterprises better manage multiple clusters.

Red Hat announced GA of its Advanced Cluster Management (ACM) offering, in which its OpenShift platform serves as the means for managing the lifecycles of Kubernetes clusters, including distributed edge scenarios. After acquiring Docker’s enterprise technology, Mirantis announced during the conference its acquisition of Lens, an IDE for easing the lifecycle management involved in deploying and managing Kubernetes workloads. Microsoft announced new Azure features which improve Kubernetes cluster deployments, including integration with Azure Resource Health for alerts on unhealthy clusters.


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