In this series of Let’s Talk interviews for KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2022 , I sat down with Itiel Shwartz, CTO and Co-Founder at Komodor, to discuss the event, what kind of participants were there and what major trends he witnessed at the event.

He said that the complexity that we often talk about is only going to increase for a while. “I don’t see it decreasing. I believe that we will reach some sort of peak sometime, at least I hope, for the industry, where things are going to get stable,” said Shwartz.

Shwartz identified two main groups of attendees: the Kubernetes experts and the people who are starting their immigration process to Kubernetes to learn. Schwarz discussed the trends he is seeing in Kubernetes and the challenges with complexity. He also shared details of Komodor’s latest round of funding and the focus of the company going forward.

Key highlights of this video interview are:

  • Shwartz discusses the type of attendees KubeCon attracted and why it was valuable to talk to both the Kubernetes experts as well as the people just starting out on their Kubernetes journey.
  • Shwartz explains the three key trends and patterns he saw at KubeCon this year: how Kubernetes is being used as a bridge for multi-cloud and hybrid solutions, observability tools to help developers, and how to best manage clusters.
  • Although Kubernetes adoption is growing, so is the complexity that comes with that. Shwartz feels that people are still trying to work out the best ways to manage Kubernetes but until more best practices get put into place, complexity will still be an issue.
  • Shwartz goes into detail about a Series B funding that raised $42 million explaining the two key focuses for Komodor: empowering developers and to help SREs and DevOps to solve issues faster. He explains why these are the most important areas of focus and what the company aims to achieve.

Connect with Itiel Shwartz (LinkedIn)

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.
Here is the automated and unedited transcript of the recording. Please note that the transcript has not been edited or reviewed. 


Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome to another episode of our last talk. And today we have with us, once again, Itiel Shwartz, CTO and Co-Founder at Komodor. We were supposed to do this recording at KubeCon in Valencia, but due to some flight changes, we are doing it virtually. So I missed an opportunity to see you there, but from what I saw there, what I heard, the energy was different. There was a lot of excitement. So you were also there in person. Tell us, what was the experience like for you there at the event?

Itiel Shwartz: Like in one word, it was amazing. It was when my first KubeCon ever. I’ll be honest when we started Komodor everything was in the middle of the COVID, so no big conferences, everything was virtual. So all of the talks that I had, or most of them, were via Zoom. And to see all of those people, I think there were like 7,000 people in KubeCon, something like that, to see all of those people talking about Kubernetes, thinking about Kubernetes, thinking about where is Kubernetes heading in the upcoming year was really like amazing experience.

And I feel that a lot of people are a bit like me and they missed the live interaction to meet like actual people and not only Zoom. So the atmosphere and the vibe was super like happy and excited. So it was fun both from like a technical standpoint, like where are we heading? But also from a personal standpoint, like it was fun being there and meeting all of those people that are behind camera all of this time. So super fun.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Since this was your first KubeCon, like you said, so there is no frame of reference where I can kind of compare the previous ones, but what kind of crowd did you see there? Was it more operators, were there more developers, were there more DevOps people? So what kind of folks were there?

Itiel Shwartz: I will say like mainly DevOps, or like SRE, you know, different titles, same position for a lot of the people. And what I saw there that was interesting is quite a lot of platforming engineers. I think that we see it as a really big trend, like people who develop internal tools for the rest of the dev, or like even the ops team. And they are basically empowering other people to use Kubernetes more efficiency. And I think there, we saw a very big bunch of platform engineers.

We saw developers, like I saw developers, but not in a very big masses. And I think that there are two main groups that you can see there. First one are the ones who are like Kubernetes experts. They are already cloud native, they know what they’re doing, they are coming to learn about all of the cool new features that are coming in Kubernetes.

And on the other side, you have the people who are now starting their immigration process to Kubernetes, and they come to learn and to understand, and to choose the right tools or to choose the right technologies when it comes to Kubernetes and they are much more eager to learn.

So it was nice to see the difference between the two. So super fun as well, talking with both of those groups, understanding the different needs. And so on.

Swapnil Bhartiya: In addition to meeting all these folks, did you also see a pattern in the kind of discussions that were happening there? Which also gives us kind of an insight to what are the trends that are there that you notice which makes sense, not only from Komodor’s perspective, but for where you see the Cloud Native ecosystem is moving.

Itiel Shwartz: Yeah. I think we saw a couple of interesting trends. First off, is Kubernetes as a bridge for multi-cloud or even hybrid solutions. We saw quite a lot of those, how, and what’s the best way to go more than one cloud vendor, or to be On-Prem and on the cloud as well. It’s something that I think Kubernetes is like great platform to use in order to achieve it quite easily, because Kubernetes is pretty much the same, even if you’re On-Prem, on Google Cloud, or on AWS. So we saw a lot of people from that direction that they’re trying to understand what’s the best way to manage the Kubernetes across all of those different places. So this is very, very interesting conversation that we saw.

And I think that both from Komodor perspective and the industry as a whole, and like observability. I think there were a lot of observability tools that help developers and DevOps to understand, to troubleshoot, to monitor. We see more and more of those kind of both the demand and also a lot of new, cool startups in that area.

And maybe like as a third thing that is interesting, I manage Kubernetes or Rancher, like tools that is also starting to get more and more momentum. Like, how do I manage the cluster themselves, because the cloud provider is simply not enough, because I’m also On-Prem because Kubernetes is so complicated. So we saw also quite a lot of those kind of things.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Of course, that option of Kubernetes is growing, that is evident from the gathering there at this event. One thing that I keep hearing about Kubernetes, and this is nothing new, is complexity. Even when I talk to the folks they’re like, “that complexity is not going to go away.” CNCF landscape will have more logos, not less, which actually could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you look at it from a user’s perspective or developer’s perspective, they do get overwhelmed, intimidated with this complexity. But which also creates an opportunity for folks like Komodor to help solve those problems. So from your perspective, how do you see this? Adoption is also growing, but complexity is also growing. So where do you see things are heading?

Itiel Shwartz: I think that we’re still in the trend that complexity is only on the rise. I don’t see it decreasing. I believe that we will reach some sort of peak sometime, at least I hope, for the industry, where things are going to get stable. But you know, like you said about the CNCF ecosystem, you can press refresh on the button and a new logo will pop up. And the complexity is the combination of all of those different tools and all of those different options and the usage of all of them.

So I think that when you see that you now must use Service Match, and you must use like a CD solution, and also you want to have the database on top of Kubernetes. So it’s very hard to do persistence on top of Kubernetes.

And you try to do so many different things on top of Kubernetes that I think that I know Kubernetes like quite well, I’m doing that for the last five or six years. And there were a bit of kind of big companies that I didn’t really know. And it’s weird because I do only Kubernetes all day long and it is still so vast. So, so many options that it’s quite amazing.

So I think complexity is only going to get worse until it’s going to improve. We’re still at the stage when people are trying to understand what’s the best way to manage, to handle Kubernetes. And until we will have more best practices, more tools that are like that factor, like standard, I don’t see a decrease in that.

I think that for like the observability space, like the APM login and so on, I think that there is a nice status quo. I think that most people are using Datadog as a commercial solution, or I don’t know, [inaudible 00:08:01] use as the open source, cool things. And that’s pretty much it, that’s like 80%, I don’t know, is going there.

And it’s good, because when you talk about Service Smash, for example, you have 1% there, 1% there, 1% there, and like the rest is trying to adopt Service Smasher and failing. So I think that for most of the different pieces in Kubernetes, the winner is yet to be decided. You know, we [crosstalk 00:08:29] try to help in the troubleshooting landscape and to help serve the complexity in that area and we see really high demand, but overall, a lot of new contenders trying to be the next big thing and no clear winners for almost any category.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Now let’s talk about Komodor. You folks raised another $42 million in a Series B funding. So first of all, talk about what is going to be the focus? Of course, you do have a very laid out plan, but what are the areas you plan to invest? What are the growth areas? And also tell about the investors.

Itiel Shwartz: Yeah, sure. So the investors, it was led by Tigera, which is one of the biggest we see in the world, basically. I think that everyone is seeing where a Kubernetes is heading, which is to being widely adopted and very, very complex. That’s the trend. It’s not like I’m talking from a position, but I think everyone can see the trend graph going there.

And the reason that we raise so much money is because we see how hard it is for people to adopt Kubernetes and to manage Kubernetes efficiency. And when we talk about what’s up in the roadmap, we see two main areas that we want to focus.

The first one is to empower developers. We see more and more shift platform and more platform teams trying to help the developers to troubleshoot issues on their own. And in that area, the focus is simplicity, and Komodor tries to give developers a very crisp insights on what’s the issue, what they should do next, and to be able to take people who are not experts to an expert level. So that’s one thing that we’re really investing in.

The second thing is to help the SRE or DevOps to solve issues faster. And that is a different persona, a different use case. We try to bring people who are experts, who troubleshoot most of their day out of the times and putting out fires, more tools in order to solve issues in Kubernetes. And for them, what we’re doing is we’re giving something which is completely holistic. The ability to examine changes in problem across your stack, from the single code to the fact that you just changed the cluster version, to a problem with the load balancer or to a problem with the PVC, that only happens on a specific node.

So we try both to ease the life of the developers so they can be much more effective, but on the other hand to bring the tools necessary for Kubernetes operators so they will be able to solve the issues faster.

We see from a lot of our customers that the SRE team simply doesn’t have time to be proactive because there are so many problems, so many issues, that they are forced to be reactive and we try to shift the paradigm. And so we can help them move from to offense from defense.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Itiel, thank you so much for taking time out today and of course to talk about some of the big trends you’re seeing, where you see the space is moving, and also about the funding round. I wish we could have done this in person, but hopefully next time.

Itiel Shwartz: Next time.

Swapnil Bhartiya: But I really appreciate your time today. Thank you.

Itiel Shwartz: Thank you very much, and I hope to do it next time in person.


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