Kubernetes as a service simplifies public and private cloud management

With Platform9's Managed Kubernetes, enterprises can run Kubernetes without having to learn the intricacies of deploying and managing the software

Kubernetes as a service simplifies public and private cloud management

Platform9, creator of a turnkey OpenStack SaaS solution and the Fission framework, today unveiled a new service for running Kubernetes at scale in multiple environments.

Managed Kubernetes enables enterprises to run Kubernetes without having to learn the intricacies of deploying and managing the software -- in much the same manner as managed OpenStack solutions like Platform9’s promised to make the open source cloud management platform less unwieldy.

With the new service, Kubernetes moves into its next phase as a technology known both for its potential and its limitations as it becomes the basis for other products, building on its power and ameliorating its problems.

Babysit less, run more

In a phone interview, Platform9 CEO Sirish Raghuram noted “a lot of problems that exist with OpenStack also exist with Kubernetes.” Managed Kubernetes, which is meant to complement Platform9’s OpenStack offering, allows enterprises to equalize the management experience with applications whether they run in VMs on OpenStack or in containers on Kubernetes.

Managed Kubernetes can run in most public clouds or behind the firewall of an enterprise's datacenter. Once delivered, it runs as a remotely managed service administered by Platform9 engineers. “It simplifies the operational management of Kubernetes itself,” Raghuram explained. “It makes it really quick to get started, but also makes it really easy to use in an ongoing manner in production.”

Kubernetes has been criticized for being internally complex and for needing administrative “babysitting,” Raghuram said. Removing that setup and management burden allows enterprises to focus on how best to adopt containers and microservices for their use.

The “managed” part of Managed Kubernetes is similar to the workings of Platform9’s OpenStack product. Once deployed, an agent on the systems running the solution contacts Platform9’s control plane, so connections to Platform9’s management are always outbound from the product.

Pricing starts at $1,500 per CPU socket per year, with discounts at scale and for cloud instances.

No mechanics needed, only drivers

Some Managed Kubernetes' promises sound similar to those of Mesosphere DCOS, an open source cluster-management system that can also run Kubernetes to handle containerized applications. The products have some parallels, Raghuram said. They both can be used to aggregate computing capacity and provision that capacity to run applications without having to worry about what’s underneath.

But according to Raghuram, DCOS requires administrators to run and manage the whole item on their own. “It does not address the challenges of monitoring, troubleshooting, and upgrading these systems, and that’s the same problem that has plagued OpenStack over the years,” he said.

Raghuram feels another detail differentiates Managed Kubernetes from Mesosphere DCOS: The momentum Kubernetes has built up, which far outstrips that of DCOS. Some traction was created by Red Hat and Google supporting Kubernetes out of the gate as an open source project, whereas DCOS was open-sourced after the fact, noted Raghuram.

Raghuram also noted that if an organization builds on top of Managed Kubernetes, it can still decide to take control later if it wants. “What’s under the hood is the stock Kubernetes car,” with all of the attendant APIs and standards components, he said.  If you decide to lift the hood, the pieces will be the same as if it were a hand-built Kubernetes installation. “You don’t have to be a mechanic to drive a car,” he added.

[Edward Hsu, vice president, product marketing at Mesosphere, contacted us to say that DC/OS "is built around Apache Mesos and a number of other long standing open source projects," and that it was "planned to be an open source project from the beginning."]