December 28, 2016

Kubernetes: A True Cloud Platform

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Sam Ghods
Sam Ghods, co-founder of Box, discusses Kubernetes’ combination of portability and extensibility during his CloudNativeCon keynote in November.

The Kubernetes community is building a platform that will make application development completely cloud infrastructure agnostic. Sam Ghods, co-founder of Box, said Kubernetes’ combination of portability and extensibility put it in a class of its own for cloud application development, during his CloudNativeCon keynote in November.

“We finally have a portable abstraction to work against in cloud infrastructure,” he said.

Ghods compared Kubernetes to other platforms like Linux, which provides consistency across almost any hardware, Java, which runs on almost any operating system, and Twilio, which provides a single platform across dozens of complicated telephony services. The whole idea is to get the messy bits in the background and create a consistent and predictable layer for creation.

“A platform abstracts away a messy problem so you can build on top of it,” Ghods said.

Currently, each of the major cloud infrastructure providers -- like Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft Azure, and OpenStack -- offers different solutions for autoscaling, load balancing, and remote storage, and no solution at all for service discovery.

As a platform, Kubernetes rises above the mess and provides a single layer where developers can be certain that the specifications needed to run the application they’re creating will always exist. That way, no attention is required to deal with how each infrastructure will fulfill the application’s requirements.

“Now, I can write one JSON spec and submit that to any Kubernetes cluster running anywhere and be able to recreate exactly the right topology and exactly the right infrastructure that I need,” Ghods said.

That’s the portability piece of the platform, Ghods said. For extensibility -- which Ghods said was the piece he was the most personally excited about -- the community is constantly releasing new features and projects to set Kubernetes apart. One such feature is Dashboard, a UI to show resource utilization. Another key component under development is cluster federation for load balancing, and the etcd operator recently introduced by CoreOS, ensures the application is running in the desired state on the cluster.

Ghods said he’s been implementing Kubernetes at Box for the last two years, and the inclusivity and transparency of the community are what set the project apart from other attempts at creating a stable cloud application platform.

“Kubernetes has the opportunity to be the new cloud platform,” Ghods said. “I think the tooling we're seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. I think the amount of innovation and leverage that's going to come from being able to standardize on Kubernetes as a platform is incredibly exciting, more exciting than anything I've seen in the last 10 years of working on the cloud.

“We have an opportunity here in this room to do what AWS did for infrastructure, but this time in an open, universal, community-driven way,” Ghods sadi. “We can build tooling that people today only dreamt of having and truly uplevel the next generation of developers.”

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