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.
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.
Despite all the growth in ecosystem and capabilities, there were still a fair number of container-curious people who were at KubeCon+CloudNativeCon. Their companies sent them to KubeCon+CloudNativeCon because they just beginning to explore containers and Kubernetes. They had a lot of questions about the viability of containers and microservices in their more demanding environments, especially regulated environments. Many of the questions I was asked, especially about visibility within clusters and security, were important discussion points. Some of the doubts were a smokescreen for organizations that resist change. It was obvious that they were looking for an excuse to stick with old ideas.
Another issue holding back container architectures is confusion in the market. CloudFoundry, serverless platforms, and Kubernetes platforms overlap and use similar technology, namely containers. Since vendors will often present these as competing platforms, depending on what they sell, it presents the market as more fragmented then it is. Even within technologies there is a lot of confusion. Take serverless computing. Ask ten people what serverless is and you will get eleven different responses. Some vendors want to make it a marketing label they can slap onto anything to make it shiny and new. This makes life very confusing for an enterprise IT professional trying to design next generation applications.
Some of this confusion is just an artifact of a lifecycle problem. Five years ago, there were several competing container formats from Docker, Rancher, CoreOs and others. That has changed. Containers have coalesced around a common image format. Container engine vendors are no longer competing on the basics but on performance and security layered over standard runtimes such as containerd.
No one is advocating change for the sake of change. We are at a point, however, where the demands of modern applications require a new architecture. Kubernetes represents an excellent platform for highly distributed applications where portability, performance, and development lifecycle problems are easily managed. 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. Expect to see more enterprise applications that rely on rigorous architectures to be Kubernetes.