KubeCon and the growing importance of Kubernetes

Google is the exemplar for how to build and run massive applications. When it open-sourced its infrastructure management system, it unleashed a wave of activity.


Google has been running containerized workloads in production for more than a decade. From service jobs like web front-ends and stateful servers, infrastructure systems like Bigtable and Spanner, or batch frameworks like MapReduce and Millwheel, virtually everything at Google runs as a container. Google used a system called Borg (you have to love the naming conventions that Google uses!) to manage all of its containers.

Kubernetes is an open source initiate that traces its lineage directly from Borg. Kubernetes was donated to the Linux Foundation by Google, and a number of the developers working on Kubernetes were formerly developing Borg. Kubernetes, therefore, can be seen as a broadly applicable version of Borg, without any of the Google-specific bits.

Kubernetes was only released this year, but its promise of delivering a powerful and massively scalable system for managing containerized applications captured the Zeitgeist of the moment, and the project has gained lots of momentum.

Next month sees the Kubernetes initiative hold its inaugural developer and user conference, KubeCon. KubeCon is being organized and run by the KubeAcademy. Given that conference attendance is a good proxy for the early success of an open source initiative, it is interesting to note that Kubecon will roughly be as big as the first DockerCon (500 attendees) and much bigger than the first MesosCon (270 attendees).

Given the major interest in containers generally, it is interesting to see the speed at which the Kubernetes ecosystem is developing. Existing technology players are rebuilding their offerings on Kubernetes, and a number of early-stage startups are appearing built on top of Kubernetes. Some examples:

  • CoreOS - Tectonic (proprietary Kubernetes distro).
  • Red Hat - Openshift, leading PaaS platform based on Kubernetes.
  • WSO2 - 10+-year-old leading OSS middleware vendor, re-platforming their entire middleware platform to be based on Kubernetes.
  • Engine Yard - acquired DEIS PaaS and orienting the entire company around a rebase of DEIS on Kubernetes.

It's always interesting to watch an initiative grow from its inception to rapid growth. KubeCon looks to be a vibrant and thought-provoking event.

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