5 Kubernetes technology vendors hot right now

Kubernetes is a technology that has created a whole new ecosystem around itself, and it is now a key plank in the DevOps movement when it comes to developing new applications and services and improving business operations

Antony Savvas attended the recent IT Press Tour around Silicon Valley, covering technology suppliers which use Kubernetes to serve evolving business needs, and reports on the latest developments.

#1 – Rakuten Symphony

Rakuten Symphony is an operating unit of Japanese shopping and communications giant Rakuten, and is rapidly building out data services at the edge, and in turn making full use of Kubernetes.

Last year, it acquired Robin.io, which was homing in on technology growth at the edge to support both telcos and enterprises with their data management and application development.

We met some of those former leading Robin.io executives who are now very much standard bearers for what Rakuten Symphony can offer.

Robin.io was punching well above its weight before the acquisition, giving VMware a run for its money in the telco space when it came to developing applications and services around the Open RAN communications standard.

Robin.io had also developed the type of edge solutions for the enterprise that the likes of edge processing leader Scale Computing was offering in retail and at other small- and medium-sized data processing sites.

Now, Rakuten Symphony has set out its stall with its new Symworld Cloud offering, and is working with the major cloud hyperscalers to deliver its solutions at the growing edge, while continuing to support the enterprises in the retail space and other business areas Robin.io was building a niche in.

As part of Symworld Cloud, Symworld CNP is a Kubernetes platform optimised for running storage- and network-intensive services, with a special focus on zero-touch deployment and operational automation at the edge. In addition, Symworld CNS is a cloud-native storage stack for Kubernetes and supports data management, while Symworld Orchestrator manages bare-metal servers and applications across clusters and data centres.

All these offerings compete against what VMware offers, particularly VMware Tanzu, along with alternatives like Red Hat’s OpenShift, says Rakuten Symphony.

When it comes to developing applications and services at the edge most telcos and enterprises can’t do it themselves, which is why Rakuten bought Robin.io. It not only boosted its technology and skills for its own mobile and fixed network, but bought a solution it could sell to its rivals.

Partha Seetala, president of the cloud business unit at Rakuten Symphony (and previously founder and CEO at Robin.io), told the IT Press Tour he’d like Rakuten Symphony to be the “VMware of the edge”, illustrating the potential market opportunity he sees for solutions like his.

#2 – CloudFabrix

Another company we met was CloudFabrix, which bills itself as the provider of a “data-centric AIOps [artificial intelligence operations] platform”, delivered through microservices, and which can also be accessed through Amazon Web Services.

The company has reported 250 per cent year-on-year growth, and its technology partners include IBM, Cisco, system integrator DXC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).

HPE offers the technology via its GreenLake on-demand cloud data services, and CloudFabrix says it is in discussions with Dell Technologies too, bringing its offering to that vendor’s on-demand data services as well.

It’s low-code offering allows organisations to get new applications and services up and running quicker using bots, on-demand analytics and pipeline management. Key in all this is CloudFabrix’s “robotic data automation fabric (RDAF)”.

CloudFabrix’s RDAF can be integrated with Kubernetes through kubectl, Kubernetes’ command line tool for communicating with a Kubernetes cluster’s control plane, using the Kubernetes API. It can use this to collect the inventory of Kubernetes resources, like pods, nodes, services and deployments, for instance, either on-demand or on a scheduled basis.

CloudFabrix’s business scale-up going forward includes more OEM deals and the development of its developer programmes.

#3 – Pulumi

Next up was Pulumi, a provider of “open-source infrastructure as code (IaC)”. The company already operates across six countries, and raised $57.5 million in a Series B round two years ago.

Pulumi says it has 1,500 customers worldwide, including Mercedes-Benz, Harrods and Ticketmaster, who all use the solution to help manage their Kubernetes data clusters in the cloud, for instance.

The price to run the software is based on the number of resources under management, and the level of support required by the customer. This includes a “deployment as-a-service” offering.

Currently, 50 per cent of sales are generated in the US and around 30 per cent in Europe, with the UK and Germany the biggest markets in the region.

To demonstrate its international expansion plans, Pulumi is planning to launch a channel partner programme in the “next six to 12 months” to help spread its message and drum up even more business.

#4 – Solo.io

Showing the wide reach of business operations through Kubernetes, Solo.io is a company which provides an open source “service mesh” to manage APIs (application programming interfaces), and help firms adapt to major business and market changes.

It also helps them to control their cloud costs as they go down a multi-cloud route, as most organisations are now doing.

Solo.io is backed with $175 million in funding and markets its products through the “GlooPlatform”. There are a number of service mesh solutions on the market, and Solo.io uses and helps develop the Istio platform.

Istio was originally released by Google five years ago. In fact, Solo.io helped develop an extension to Istio in the form of “Ambient Mesh”, which it says makes Istio more streamlined and easier to use.

The Ambient Mesh technology offers networking, communications and security support for customers’ data, and fills the “operating gaps” found in Kubernetes technology, says Solo.io, which is mainly used to deploy resources, rather than manage policies, for instance.

“As Kubernetes expands in the market, we expand,” Solo.io says. Customers using its software include T-Mobile, Domino’s, Nationwide Building Society, BMW Group and SAP.

#5 – Sysdig

Cloud service management and security vendor Sysdig has a portfolio which includes Sysdig Monitor, Sysdig Secure and the open-source security and management product Falco.

The company has raised an impressive $750m in total over the last few years but is still not profitable.

Last December, it made around 10 per cent of its staff redundant to cut costs and respond to the slowing technology market – even companies in technology sweet spots have to cut their cloth accordingly.

On profitability, Sysdig CEO Suresh Vasudevan says: “We have set out a three-year time frame for becoming a public company, and the question of profitability would be part of that decision-making process, in addition to growth and revenue returns, so that gives you an idea of where we are in terms of profitability.”

Sysdig has grown to be a key player in the market when it comes to offering streamlined management of customers’ data containers and Kubernetes clusters, both on-prem and in a multi-cloud environment.

Over the past year, cloud costs have increased rapidly, making the operation of many cloud-based Kubernetes clusters more expensive. Research from containers and Kubernetes cloud provider Civo, based on questioning 1,000 developers, found that 57 per cent had seen an increase in the amount of Kubernetes clusters running in their organisation over the last 12 months.

And 47 per cent said Kubernetes technology costs had risen, with a majority of these seeing a rise of up to 25 per cent on year-on-year spend.

Vasudevan says of this: “If customers just lift and shift their applications into the cloud without much planning they won’t get the right flexibility and performance they are looking for, and costs will be high too.

“Cost optimisation is key as our own research shows that the capacity acquired in Kubernetes clusters is not being used, the clusters have been over-provisioned. This is partly down to a lack of expertise available to organisations – which is where we come in.”

The company recently unveiled its Cost Advisor tool that helps customers choose the right cloud services at the right cost.

This sample of Kubernetes technology companies in Silicon Valley clearly shows the wide business operations reach of Kubernetes, and it will only get wider, that’s for sure.

More on Kubernetes

How enterprises can get better with KubernetesHow mature is your business when it comes to adopting Kubernetes? Steve Judd at Jetstack offers a guide for CTOs of enterprises adopting Kubernetes technology for software deployment, scaling and management

Antony Savvas

Antony has been a business technology journalist for 35 years, including following the convergence of computing and telecoms, the emergence of mobile and wireless data, and now new industry productivity...

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