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Don’t Throw Your Kubernetes Away


The adoption of Kubernetes is growing at an unprecedented rate. Companies of all sizes are running it in production. Almost all of these companies were early adopters of Kubernetes where different dev teams brought Kubernetes inside the organization.

Kubernetes is a very engineer-driven technology. Unlike instances like virtualization or other infrastructure components that are managed by the central IT team which offers them to different development groups, Kubernetes is something that developers bring into the organization.

Developers take upstream Kubernetes, use it to build something and take it to production. Over a period of time, different developer teams within an organization built different Kubernetes environments and manage them independently of each other. Once these deployments are in production they need to find a way to host and support them internally.

From OpenStack With Love

That’s where Mirantis saw an opportunity to bring in their expertise and experience to help such companies. “We dealt with a similar problem in the OpenStack world because there were a lot of OpenStack snowflakes which we supported in the beginning,” said Boris Renski, co-founder and CMO of Mirantis.

The problem Mirantis is trying to solve is enabling organizations that run brownfield Kubernetes deployments to get support without having to throw away all of the work they have invested in and buy a vendor’s solutions.

“Companies like Red Hat ask customers to throw away all of their stuff and take OpenShift if they wanted to support, that oftentimes doesn’t work,” said Renski. Most of these organizations have made heavy investments in expertise and deployments, they don’t want to just throw that work away. They want someone who supports their existing environments.

To help these companies, Mirantis recently announced a new service called Mirantis Enterprise Support for Kubernetes aka “Bring Your Own Distro (BYOD) support for brownfield Kubernetes implementations.

Mirantis works with these companies to support their internal Kubernetes deployments. The new support option enables customers to use any conformant Kubernetes distribution and complementary technology, as long as it complies with general constraints outlined in the Mirantis service agreement.

Thanks to the work Mirantis did to support OpenStack, they ended up building a support organization within the company in a particular way that allowed them to offer such services. “Unlike other companies, we are very process-oriented for a particular piece of software,” said Renski.

Mirantis hires top-notch engineers, who are also part of the upstream community, that makes it capable of supporting a much broader set of solutions.

Mirantis also helps build a path for these companies to move all of their ‘fragmented’ Kubernetes deployments to a common code-base so all of their Kubernetes environments are consistent and easy to manage. To further help those customers who want to move to ‘managed’ Kubernetes in a smooth way, Mirantis announced beta of its own Kubernetes as a Service (KaaS) offering.

Go Metal

But KaaS is something customers can get a dime a dozen these days. What differentiates Mirantis from its competitors is the ability to deploy and manage Kubernetes clusters on bare metal with no VM intermediary at all.

“We can do cloud to cloud, which almost everyone can do, and bare metal to cloud. The bare metal piece is unique to us,” said Renski. A developer can easily provision Kubernetes clusters on bare metal in the AWS and other places, network them together, et cetera.

“To cut a long story short, we are bringing all the competencies that we have gained over the years and all the best of the breed open source projects to make it easier for customers to run their workload the way they want and where they want,” said Renski.

The big problem Renski said Mirantis is solving is cost efficiency associated with running Kubernetes. It was born in the cloud and it assumes that a lot of things related to infrastructure are already solved for it. So if you run Kubernetes in AWS, for instance, you can use a load balancer as a service that’s already there. You can use DNS as a service.  If you look at lower-level infrastructure problems they are already solved by the cloud provider and are hidden for the customer.

“When you go to an enterprise cloud environment, you have to deal with these problems. There are only two options around Kubernetes – either pay VMware to emulate and create an EC2 like environment for your on-prem or you build a VMware like solution and stitch together all the needed pieces. “It’s either ‘Do-it-Yourself’ or VMware. DIY is expensive and risky,” said Renski. “VMware is expensive. What we do is bring our experience and expertise in infrastructure and provide a straightforward solution for running Kubernetes on bare metal that is both efficient and cost-effective.”

Breaking new grounds

Historically, Mirantis has been serving two very distinct segments of customers – telcos and large enterprises. While telcos make up for 70% of Mirantis revenues, they are new to the Kubernetes game. Mirantis does see growing adoption of Kubernetes in the telco space. They are collaborating with AT&T where they are using Kubernetes for OpenStack life cycle management. “We are starting to actually penetrate Kubernetes into the telco sector as well,” he said.