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InfoQ Homepage News KubeCon and CloudNativeCon 2017: An "Exciting Time for Boring Infrastructure"

KubeCon and CloudNativeCon 2017: An "Exciting Time for Boring Infrastructure"

At the joint KubeCon and CloudNativeCon conferences, held in Austin, USA, over 4000 engineers met to learn about and share the latest status of Kubernetes and other cloud native technologies. Core takeaways included: much of the cloud native "boring" infrastructure is starting to become mature; many of the CNCF hosted technologies are being released as generally available and ready for production use; and the CNCF is attempting to promote the creation of a diverse and inclusive community in order to help further its mission of creating and driving the adoption of cloud native technologies.

Dan Kohn, executive director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), opened the conference and set the scene for the CNCF's mission. Quoting Tim Hockin, Kohn said that it is now an "exciting time for boring infrastructure", and this was a quote that was often repeated throughout the three day conference. The general consensus of the speakers and attendees at the event was that much of the underlying cloud native infrastructure and platforms -- the "boring" parts of a system -- are becoming mature.

The increase in maturity of the cloud native platform is increasingly enabling application developers to focus more effectively on delivering business value through writing application code, rather than having to divert attention to creating and operating infrastructure. However, "cloud native" is also becoming a popular buzzword (following in the trend of "DevOps"), and the combination of vendor products and open source innovation is making this a crowded space in regards to technology selection. The CNCF is aiming to promote standardisation at the interfaces, and provide cohesive APIs that promote loose coupling that will allow technology to be swapped in and out with relative ease.

Cloud Native Technologies

In addition to all of the major public cloud vendors joining the CNCF as Platinum members over the previous year, Alibaba Cloud has also recently upgraded its membership from Gold to the Platinum level. Alibaba Cloud is the number one provider of public cloud services within China with 47.5% market share according to IDC. Alibaba has embraced container technology, and runs hundreds of thousands of containers for transaction processing across its e-commerce offerings. There is also extensive support for Kubernetes on Alibaba Cloud, with a particular focus on machine learning (including Helm templates for one-click Tensorflow deployment) and high-performance computing.

Kohn continued the discussion on the rise in popularity of Kubernetes, and stated that Google trends, alongside other factors like the amount of enterprise organisations presenting container migration stories at the conference, indicate that Kubernetes is winning (or has won) as the de facto container orchestration platform. The growth in accompanying cloud native meetups, the increasing signups on the Kubernetes Slack channel, and the increasing number of attendees at KubeCon/CloudNativeCon also suggest the strength (and participation) of the community is increasing.

The CNCF is committed to supporting inclusion and diversity within the associated community, and for this event in North America over $250k was raised to support the offering of diversity scholarships to enable attendance at the event. The CNCF Diversity Committee worked hard to secure the necessary funding from generous donations from CNCF, AWS, Twistlock, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

The CNCF is hosting a number of projects, special interest groups (SIGs) and working groups, with the ultimate goals being to help engineers and organisations to make effective technology choices, and also provide a safe place within the industry for discussion and debate around standardisation of cloud native technology interfaces and APIs.

CNCF hosted projects

The second host to continue the keynote presentation was Michelle Noorali, a senior software engineer at Microsoft. Over the previous year, the number of projects hosted by the CNCF has increased from four to fourteen, and Noorali welcomed several of the project leads to discuss recent innovations. Highlights included:

  • Prometheus: The launch of Prometheus 2.0 monitoring and time series database was presented, which alongside enhanced integration with Kubernetes, also promised a ~3x reduction in CPU usage, 2x reduction in disk space, and ~100x reduction in IO for typical use cases
  • Fluentd: The launch of the Fluentd v1.0 logging framework saw performance improvements, MS Windows support, a new plugin API and several security enhancements
  • CoreDNS: The release of CoreDNS 1.0.0 focuses on improving functionality and performance of the Kubernetes plugin, as CoreDNS is now on track to replace kube-dns as the default cluster DNS in Kubernetes
  • Rktlet: The initial preview release of rktlet, the rkt implementation of the Kubernetes Container Runtime Interface, was announced
  • Containerd: The general availability of containerd 1.0, an industry-standard runtime for building container solutions, was announced, which includes a complete storage and distribution system that supports both OCI and Docker container image formats, a new events system, and an enhanced snapshot model to manage container filesystems
  • Jaeger: The Jaeger distributed tracing framework saw the release of version 1.0 that now supports an ElasticSearch storage engine in addition to the original Cassandra support. The Jaeger web UI has also been improved, and the installation procedure simplified with the creation of a Helm chart. Jaeger also now offers drop-in replacement for Zipkin

Intel also announced Kata Containers, a new open source project hosted by the OpenStack Foundation which is building a standard implementation of lightweight Virtual Machines (VMs) that feel and perform like containers, but provide the workload isolation and security advantages of VMs. Kata Containers combines technology from Intel Clear Containers and Hyper runV.

The videos of the KubeCon / CloudNativeCon keynotes, and all other sessions, can be found on the CNCF YouTube channel playlist "KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2017 - Austin".

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