When it comes to Kubernetes, getting started can be difficult for large enterprises with a variety of unique needs and requirements to meet.
“The cloud-native journey can be overwhelming,” says Craig McLuckie, vice president of research and development at VMware. “When an organization decides to embrace new technologies and processes, they encounter all sorts of difficult and important decisions. They’re walking into a jungle, and they often need a guide.”
So he and another Kubernetes co-creator, Joe Beda, founded Heptio in 2016 to help enterprises make the best use of Kubernetes. They started by providing expert consulting—Heptio’s field team fed their experiences working with customers back to the engineering team, directing their efforts towards elegant technology solutions to recurring challenges.
Now part of VMware, Heptio has an ally on this mission. “VMware understands the complexity of enterprise infrastructures. They know how to meet customers where they're at right now and move them forward into a new, multi-cloud and cloud-native world,” Beda says.
Here’s how they see Kubernetes impacting enterprises in the present and future.
The Present: Enterprise Adoption of Kubernetes
According to a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) survey, about 40 percent of respondents from enterprise companies run Kubernetes in production. What’s driving Kubernetes deployments in the enterprise?
The Digital Transformation Imperative
"We're in this fascinating time when traditional businesses have to figure out how to become software companies,” Beda observes. “There is this incredible need for organizations to uplevel the way they deploy and operate technology.”
“Kubernetes is a way to push the envelope,” McLuckie says. “It not only gives organizations the ability to package and run applications across a broad array of environments but also creates efficiencies in terms of how quickly developers produce new code and how much infrastructure is needed to run it. It’s incredibly powerful for businesses.”
The Embrace of Open Source Technology
“Enterprises are starting to think very strategically about the technology investments that they're making and how those are going to play out over the long term,” Beda explains. “Open source is becoming an increasingly important factor.”
“There’s a tremendous amount of business value in embracing an open source community, consuming cloud-based resources and rethinking the structure of teams and operations,” McLuckie adds.
The Innovation in Container Orchestration
In addition, the active Kubernetes community constantly pushes the technology forward with unique, customer-centric innovations.
“At Heptio, we built and brought back open source projects to the Kubernetes community grounded in significant customer problems,” McLuckie says. “Those feedback loops successfully add much-needed value to the project.”
“The evolving Kubernetes ecosystem takes us into unexpected directions,” Beda notes. “We’re starting to see a certain amount of solidification at the core of the ecosystem, but there’s also an expanding, active sphere of innovation around that core that's really exciting.”
The Future: Emerging Challenges for Kubernetes
Beda and McLuckie believe compute resources should be as ubiquitous and accessible as electricity—and that Kubernetes is a significant step in that direction. To forge ahead to that reality, the Kubernetes community and enterprises need to figure out how to advance, scale and consume the technology as the world changes.
“Once organizations get a taste for how productive their engineers become and how much it simplifies their day-to-day operations, we're going to see a massive proliferation of Kubernetes,” McLuckie says. “At that point, it makes sense to introduce a set of tools and capabilities that enable organizations to start specializing Kubernetes operations, teasing apart various pieces of the service.”
“A tremendous amount of work still needs to be done to solve for specific use cases and corner cases and to integrate specific technologies,” he adds. “A continued investment in open source is essential to satisfy organizations’ needs in real environments.”
“A lot of the challenges enterprises will face are in terms of scale—not the number of nodes in a cluster but the different types and number of applications across teams and regions at a large organization,” Beda predicts. “Organizations will need solutions that not only make Kubernetes more accessible but also more practical to manage in highly distributed environments on premises, at the edge and in a public cloud. Bringing it under a unified governance model is going to be really important.”
“We also need to ensure we don't shut down consumption models that companies need to solve problems in unique ways,” McLuckie explains. “There's no one right way to consume Kubernetes, and all of the options should be accessible: a lightweight, simple, upstream rendition of Kubernetes; a turnkey, fully integrated solution that solves for a lot of really thorny problems; and Kubernetes as a service, managed in the cloud.”
A Champion for Kubernetes in the Enterprise
“The world needs a champion of this technology, a trusted advocate that's going to commit to the open source ideals and mission,” Beda says. “Supporting an open source community is an ongoing investment, and VMware's already been making down payments by getting involved with the Kubernetes community and CNCF.”
Beda and McLuckie look forward now to solving these emerging challenges at VMware. “VMware is uniquely positioned to provide the resources, expertise and engineering depth necessary to solve these challenges,” McLuckie says. “VMware understands that organizations need cloud-neutral solutions that solve infrastructure problems for where they are and for where they want to be on the multi-cloud journey. I'm really excited about our future with VMware.”