Guest: Rob Hirschfeld (LinkedIn)
Company: RackN (Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk @ KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU

Kubernetes has reached critical mass and adoption. Along with its growing adoption, the complexity has also grown thanks to an ever-expanding CNCF landscape and ecosystem. The good news is that Kubernetes has done a good job with the API being portable across different providers which allows users to choose vendors they prefer. However, this massive landscape does leave many new users overwhelmed. In this episode of TFiR: Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Rob Hirschfeld, Co-Founder and CEO of RackN, to share his insights on the themes and discussions that were prominent during the 2023 KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe, particularly around Kubernetes complexity.

Key highlights of this video interview:

  • Hirschfeld thinks it’s a benefit to the community in general when a vendor can enter and be part of Kubernetes without having to conform to somebody else’s project. But it can be confusing to the users because it presents a lot of options.
  • The antidote to complexity is not simplicity, it’s not giving things up, it’s not reducing your vendors or reducing the pieces that you have. The antidote to complexity is exercise, meaning, when you have highly complex systems, you use, automate, and run them on a regular basis. It then becomes less scary and more maintainable.
  • The best way to deal with Kubernetes infrastructure (or any infrastructure in the modern era) is to run it through the extent of its capabilities and tweaking, tuning, patching, updating as you go.

Current trends in the market:

  • People are still trying to understand what they need to do with Kubernetes, how to use it, who to buy it from, how to support the vendors, and how many Kubernetes clusters they have to set up and manage.
  • There is more collaboration around gateways and standardizing gateway technologies.
  • Users do not have a concrete, preferred Kubernetes vendor. They feel like they can have a degree of portability.
  • Functionality sets continue to increase.
  • Most people are hosting Kubernetes or consuming it in very prescribed ways. The variations that creep in between different environments contribute to the complexity.
  • There is an automation reliability crisis: companies don’t feel like they can reliably do patches/upgrades, run the system, or copy that automation site to site without a lot of manual intervention.

Advice for companies looking to adopt Kubernetes:

  • Pick the appropriate Kubernetes vendor for your use case.
  • Have options so that you’re not locked in.
  • Invest the time to pay down the technical debt and embrace architectures that actually encourage robustness and reliability in the automation, which you can only do through code reuse.

RackN helps companies manage the complexity by:

  • Actually spending a lot of time talking to customers about it and working with them architecturally.
  • Looking at ways to modularize, decompose, create reusable parts of automation so that customers can automate their systems and do it reliably.

What’s ahead for KubeCon:

  • Hirschfeld believes KubeCon is transitioning from being a “Kubernetes developer” conference to a “Kubernetes user operator/developer” conference. Half of the attendees at this year’s KubeCon EU were first-timers, which means they came looking at Kubernetes as a product.
  • We need to understand, as an industry, how we’re going to help people use that product.
  • A new wave of innovation, not on Kubernetes itself, but on helping people use Kubernetes in ways that combat the complexity or exercise the systems or have better reuse models.
  • It is still very early in the journey for these companies to embrace a tool chain above and around Kubernetes.

This summary was written by Camille Gregory.

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