This week, Rancher Labs announced the general availability of the container management platform Rancher 1.0. Rancher 1.0 allows users to take advantage of the Docker Swarm and Kubernetes orchestration frameworks, while nevertheless delivering a unified management experience for production-grade container deployments. Organizations can use the open source Rancher platform to deploy and manage Docker Swarm and Kubernetes clusters of any size on any cloud, on-premise or hybrid cloud infrastructure. Meanwhile, the platform’s management console delivers deep visibility into container deployments in ways that allow users to enhance its software development and delivery lifecycle. Rancher Labs CEO Sheng Liang commented on the success of the Rancher platform as follows:
Since announcing our beta product less than a year ago, Rancher Labs has experienced incredible demand, as well as received encouraging and helpful feedback and community support for this open platform which has enabled us to make meaningful enhancements to Rancher. Now, with well over a million downloads, Rancher has quickly become the platform of choice for teams serious about running containers in production.
Liang remarks on how the “incredible demand” for the platform has led to feedback and customer engagement that accelerated enhancement of the open source Rancher platform and subsequently positioned it strongly as one of the industry’s leading container management platforms. Spearheaded by a rich user interface, its support for both Docker Swarm and Kubernetes and a cloud-agnostic framework, Rancher gives users a centralized platform for enterprise grade container deployment and management. In addition, the platform features a rich application catalogue that facilitates the creation of templates for storing applications that can subsequently be re-used, tweaked and variously customized. Rancher Labs supports a commercially licensed version of its container management platform that wraps professional services around the open source Rancher container management platform. Headquartered in Cupertino, CA, the company has raised $10M to date from Mayfield and Nexus Venture Partners.
Puppet Labs today announced the availability of a Kubernetes module that extends Puppet’s IT automation capabilities and functionality for managing infrastructure as code to the Kubernetes cluster management platform for containers. The Kubernetes module from Puppet Labs allows customers to generate configurations for Kubernetes clusters that can be disseminated across distributed teams to facilitate enhanced collaboration and application standardization. Moreover, the Kubernetes module delivers granular reporting and audit functionality that enables customers to keep track of Kubernetes-related configuration changes. The ability of the Puppet Labs Kubernetes module to track configuration changes allows customers to more effectively manage configuration drift and subsequently ensure that their deployments remain in keeping with their design specifications. As a result, customers can use Puppet Labs to audit their applications with a view to understanding the current state of their Kubernetes clusters. Importantly, customers who take advantage of the Kubernetes module can manage Kubernetes using the same Puppet Labs automation framework that they use to manage the rest of their IT infrastructure. As container usage skyrockets throughout the enterprise, Puppet Labs’ deep integration with Kubernetes and attendant functionality for Kubernetes configuration management gives customers a unified IT automation framework capable of managing containers in addition to infrastructure, networking components and applications. Puppet’s Kubernetes module continues to underscore the way in which it intends to differentiate from the pack of third party IT automation vendors. Expect Puppet’s Kubernetes module to garner increased attention as Kubernetes deployments in production environments increase in number and size within the enterprise.
Here are three quick thoughts on Google’s recent decision to become a corporate sponsor of OpenStack:
1. Google’s support of OpenStack marks one of the biggest endorsements to date of OpenStack, and as such, bolsters the credibility of the platform even further. Even though OpenStack is currently endorsed by the likes of Platinum Members Red Hat, IBM, HP and Rackspace, Google’s announcement constitutes an especially significant announcement given its ownership of a competitor public cloud IaaS platform in the form of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Google’s endorsement suggests that the days of OpenStack’s segregation from proprietary public clouds such as the Google Cloud Platform, AWS and Microsoft Azure may well be numbered and that the IaaS space may well end up developing APIs from proprietary platforms to OpenStack in the foreseeable future.
2. The cloud computing industry is increasingly coming to terms with hybrid cloud infrastructures and the necessity for interoperability across different cloud ecosystems. By supporting OpenStack, Google embraces cloud hybridity and in particular, the necessity for Kubernetes to integrate deeply with the OpenStack ecosystem. Given that enterprises almost invariably embrace some combination of private and public clouds as part of their larger cloud strategy, Google’s support of OpenStack constitutes an emphatic affirmation not only of OpenStack, but also of the criticality of hybrid cloud infrastructures and management frameworks at this stage of the evolution of cloud computing.
3. Google’s collaboration with OpenStack on the Kubernetes project underscores the emerging ascendancy of containers to contemporary cloud computing as an alternative and complement to virtual machine based computing. By working with OpenStack to ensure the compatibility of Kubernetes as part of Project Magnum, Google is betting big on increased adoption of container technology throughout the industry. Furthermore, Google is placing its bet that Kubernetes, as opposed to other container management frameworks, has the pizazz to emerge as one of the premier container management frameworks in the industry, particularly in light of its forthcoming, deepened integration with OpenStack.
CoreOS has announced that its rkt (pronounced: rocket) container technology will be integrated with Google’s Kubernetes container management framework. The integration of CoreOS rocket technology with Kubernetes means that the Kubernetes framework need not leverage Docker containers, but can instead rely solely on CoreOS Linux container technology. CoreOS’s rkt technology consists of container runtime software that implements appc, the App container specification designed to provide a standard for containers based around requirements related to composability, security, image distribution and openness. CoreOS launched rocket on the premise that Docker containers had strayed from its original manifesto of developing “a simple component, a composable unit, that could be used in a variety of systems” as noted by CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi in a December 2014 blog post:
Unfortunately, a simple re-usable component is not how things are playing out. Docker now is building tools for launching cloud servers, systems for clustering, and a wide range of functions: building images, running images, uploading, downloading, and eventually even overlay networking, all compiled into one monolithic binary running primarily as root on your server. The standard container manifesto was removed. We should stop talking about Docker containers, and start talking about the Docker Platform. It is not becoming the simple composable building block we had envisioned.
Here, Polvi notes how Docker has transitioned from an initiative focused around creating reusable components to a platform whose mission has deviated from its original manifesto. Today’s announcement of the integration of CoreOS with Kubernetes represents a deepening of the relationship between CoreOS and Google that recently included a $12M funding round led by Google Ventures. While CoreOS previously supported Kubernetes, today’s announcement of its integration into Google’s container management framework represents a clear sign that the battle for container supremacy is now likely to begin in earnest, particularly given that CoreOS brands itself as enabling other technology companies to build Google-like infrastructures. With Google’s wind behind its sails, and executives from Google, Red Hat and Twitter having joined the App container specification community management team, Docker now confronts a real challenger to its supremacy within the container space. Moreover, Google, VMware, Red Hat and Apcera have all pledged support for appc in ways that suggest an alternative standard that defines “how applications can be packaged, distributed, and executed in a portable and self-contained way” may well be emerging.
Piston Cloud Computing today announced the availability of Piston Cloud OS 4.0, an operating system that builds upon the company’s platform for deploying enterprise-grade OpenStack deployments by enabling customers to deploy Hadoop and Spark on bare metal. In addition to support for Hadoop and Spark, Piston CloudOS 4.0 will support Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm in a forthcoming release. As such, Piston CloudOS 4.0 represents a notable expansion of Piston CloudOS because it aims to support the larger vision of empowering enterprises to quickly deploy the infrastructure and applications they need by using a unified platform in contrast to siloed platforms and interfaces. In its current state, Piston CloudOS 4.0 supports the open source Apache Hadoop distribution but plans to support commercial releases of Hadoop in the future as illustrated in the graphic below:
The graphic shows how Piston CloudOS 4.0 aspires to become a one stop shopping ground for frameworks that allow enterprises to launch application development, application management and data analytics-related projects. The deployment of Hadoop on bare metal allows organizations to enjoy performance benefits in comparison to virtualized environments, thereby enabling in-memory technologies such as Apache Spark to function at a high level of performance. By delivering the capability to enjoy push-button deployments of Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, Piston Cloud accelerates the operational agility of deployment teams that are interested in spinning up virtualized, cloud infrastructures in conjunction with bare-metal environments for their Big Data use cases. Moreover, by supporting technologies such as Docker, Mesos, Kubernetes, MongoDB and Cassandra, Piston Cloud gives customers an impressive array of frameworks and tools in what amounts to the industry’s first turnkey platform for cloud, Big Data and container management. Another advantage of Piston CloudOS 4.0 is that it gives users the ability to redistribute workloads across different frameworks to ensure the continued optimization of the infrastructure.
While Piston CloudOS 4.0 represents an important complement to Piston’s renowned OpenStack capabilities, the obvious question raised by this product offering concerns the significance of the company’s decision to pivot on its core OpenStack offering toward a platform that embraces a broader set of use cases and workloads. While the decision to shift course from a pure OpenStack-play strategy constitutes an astute move to gain an early foothold in the emerging market for integrated cloud, Big Data and application management platforms, the attendant question involves the long-term viability of commercial OpenStack solutions as a standalone offering, particularly in light of Nebula’s decision to close on April 1. Regardless of its implications for OpenStack, however, Piston’s new CloudOS platform represents a noteworthy intervention in the evolution of cloud and Big Data technologies by delivering a unified platform for OpenStack-based infrastructure provisioning, Hadoop deployment and, in forthcoming releases, container management and access to NoSQL as well. The bewildering heterogeneity of cloud, Big Data and application management technologies means that unified interfaces for the provisioning of infrastructures and associated data and applications promise to simplify the workflows and technology management overhead faced by organizations. Meanwhile, by tying OpenStack deployments more closely to contemporary data and application frameworks, Piston promises to increase the attractiveness of its core OpenStack offering by surrounding it with technologies and frameworks that are garnering increased traction in the enterprise.
On Tuesday, Mirantis announced the integration of OpenStack with Kubernetes, the open source framework developed by Google to manage containers. The integration between OpenStack and Kubernetes enhances the portability of applications between the private cloud infrastructures typical of OpenStack and public cloud environments such as the Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure that support Kubernetes. Even though Docker containers are well known for enhancing the portability of applications across infrastructures, transporting applications and workloads from private clouds to public clouds remains challenging. The availability of Kubernetes within (OpenStack) private clouds in addition to public cloud environments now renders it easier to transport containerized applications from private to public clouds and subsequently obtain a greater return on investment from deploying hybrid cloud infrastructures.
Moreover, the integration between Kubernetes and OpenStack facilitates container management on the Mirantis OpenStack platform by automating and orchestrating the management of Docker containers within an OpenStack-based IaaS infrastructure. The integration between Kubernetes and OpenStack depends on the OpenStack Application Catalog Murano, which manages the infrastructure for Kubernetes clusters and deploys the Docker application to the Kubernetes cluster. As the application and Kubernetes cluster scale, Murano manages the interplay between OpenStack compute, storage and networking resources and the application to ensure support for the infrastructure needs of the application and its attendant Kubernetes cluster. Tuesday’s announcement underscores the burgeoning power of containers, container management frameworks such as Google’s Kubernetes, the significance of OpenStack within the private cloud space as well as the increasingly urgent need for technologies that promote communication across cloud infrastructures toward the end of realizing the true potentiality of hybrid cloud environments. The integration of Kubernetes and OpenStack’s Murano will be available for preview on the Mirantis OpenStack Express platform in April 2015.
Microsoft recently announced support for Docker and Kubernetes technology on the Azure platform. Docker is an open source technology that enables developers to “build, ship, and run distributed applications” by means of container technology that facilitates application migration and deployment. Meanwhile, Kubernetes is an open source cluster management platform that can be used to deploy Docker containers. Azure customers can now use the Kubernetes platform to create and publish Docker containers to the Azure storage platform. In addition, Azure customers can deploy and configure Azure clusters using container images from Azure Storage or the Docker Hub. The Microsoft Azure team also built the Azure Kubernetes Visualizer which provides developers with a visual representation of the status of Kubernetes when managing Docker technology as illustrated below:
The Azure Kubernetes Visualizer is intended to “visually demonstrate some Docker and Kubernetes concepts such as containers, pods, labels, minions, and replication controllers.” Given that Kubernetes was open-sourced by Google in June, Microsoft’s decision to support Kubernetes and Docker represents a stunning example of the way in which container technology promises to drive product development as it relates to Infrastructure as a Service cloud computing. Amazon Web Services, for example, has yet to embrace Docker technology, and given its history of ignoring open source projects with the exception of Apache Hadoop, is likely to continue to withholding support for Docker. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s decision to support Kubernetes in conjunction with Google and its IaaS Google Compute Engine opens the door for the possibility of increased inter-operability between Azure and GCE, and subsequently promises to assert the criticality of Docker and Kubernetes to conversations about cloud computing inter-operability. The real winner from Azure’s support for Kubernetes and Docker, however, is Docker, whose container technology is likely to continue skyrocketing in adoption and affecting market dynamics not only within the IaaS space, but also the Platform as a Service (PaaS) landscape given its ability to reduce the gap between application development and operations by streamlining application migration across different cloud environments.