Keeping up with Kubernetes
Open Source Kubernetes for the Enterprise
A Discussion With Nirmata Founder & CEO Jim Bugwadia
Joanne McDougald: “Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another episode of Keeping up With Kubernetes. I’m here with Nirmata CEO Jim Bugwadia—so Jim, tell me a little bit about what you do for Nirmata, and how long you’ve been at it.
Jim Bugwadia: “Sure. Alright, thanks Jo. I’m Jim Bugwadia, CEO and co-founder at Nirmata. So, we started Nirmata back in 2013, and the way we look at it—myself, Damian, and Ritesh—Nirmata is really a continuation of what we’ve been doing for the last twenty plus years. All of us come from a network management background where we build centralized management systems for highly complex, highly distributed applications in telephony, in wired and wireless networking.
Now, if you fast forward to today with cloud computing, cloud applications share that complexity, which is what we’re trying to solve.”
Kubernetes’ (and Nirmata’s) brand of open source
Jo: “Yes, and so Kubernetes is born out of the open source world, and that’s the likes of Hadoop and Hive and Oozie and Sqoop and Flume and the rest of them, but what differentiates Kubernetes from the rest of those in terms of its origin and path, and benefit to the enterprise?”
Jim: “Great question. Today, just in general, just beyond Kubernetes, open source is extremely important to any enterprise. Every business today, every enterprise, is a software business, and if you want to deliver software faster and better, you are going to be leveraging open source. So, as developers ourselves, we love open source, we want to be part of the open source community, and we want to enable other developers, especially enterprise developers, which is the world that we come from, to be able to leverage this open source innovation.
Kubernetes is a project that was first born from and came out of Google, and was based on their experiences their learnings in operation of containerized applications. While the rest of the world was doing virtualization and VMs, Google was busy fine tuning and learning hard lessons with containers at scale. Kubernetes came about out of some of those efforts with Docker, Red Hat, and several others in the industry.
So, it’s extremely important, and one of our main goals and part of our mission at Nirmata is to enable enterprises to be able to use and consume these technologies.”
Jo: “What does it mean when Nirmata says that it’s ‘open source’? What does being ‘open’ mean to you?”
Jim: “Of course, there’s the ‘source’ part of it, and a lot of folks tend to confuse open source with an open system. In reality, it’s not than an enterprise wants to go and dig int source code and fix bugs. That’s not the goal of what they’re trying to solve. What they really want is to try to avoid being locked in to a single vendor, have strong community support, and make sure that there’s a foundation of innovation in the types of applications they’re building and what they’re leveraging to build their own applications, because these are the mission critical apps that are relying on some foundational technologies like Kubernetes and others.
Being open really means being able to compose with best in class applications components: you may want to compose with the best in class database, the best in class messaging tool, and not be so constrained to one vendor’s stack. Really, that’s the spirit of being open here; it’s not so much about getting into the code and debugging the code, as much fun as that may sound like or not, it’s about that composable nature.”
Jo: “I’m just going to say from zero experience, messing with the code would not be fun! Based on my level of zero experience…
Jim’s typology of Kubernetes vendors
Recently, I was reading Krishnan Subramanian’s article called ‘Kubernetes Platforms: Stay Close to the Edge or Not,’ and in it he does talk about Nirmata and he first calls out what’s happening, and then he lists four distinct types of vendors in the Kubernetes ecosystem. I think you’ve read this too; could you talk about Krish’s take on things and your take on things?”
Jim: “Yeah, Krishnan does a good job of classifying the different types of Kubernetes vendors and how they are packaging distributions, going back to the point we were just discussing about being open and allowing the flexibility and freedom to developers. Instead of the four types of vendors that he classifies, I would simplify it down to two: either the vendor is between the path of the enterprise and open source or they’re enabling that path.
What Nirmata has chosen to do—again going back to our network management/telco type of background— is that we believe in out-of-band management, where the management component is sitting alongside the applications and the things that it’s managing, and enabling that seamless path.
For example, going back to Kubernetes, we don’t mandate a particular version of Kubernetes, we don’t curate our own distribution, and Nirmata is the only enterprise platform where customers are free to pick any version. Of course, we certify with certain versions and we publish that certification list, but if an enterprise wants to go and try the latest version, we’re not preventing them from doing that.”
Jo: “That’s terrific, you’ve just got an open hand and you can do whatever you want. Nirmata’s there to hold your hand, and take you on that journey.”
To keep up with Kubernetes, listen to the community
Jo: “So, we’re ‘keeping up with Kubernetes,’ and I wonder where you go for your networking information about how you keep up with Kubernetes, where do you go?”
Jim: “Certainly there’s many different channels of information out there on Kubernetes, but it really comes from the community—seeing what customers are doing, looking at use cases, whether it’s GPU-enabled clusters to Kubernetes at the edge, to Kubernetes in the enterprise, I have no doubt that in the next five or ten years we’ll see all sorts of different applications, not just cloud but every application running on some form of Kubernetes.
Going back to your question about keeping up with it, I think the best pulse is the actual users and customers, and that’s what we love doing.”
Jo: “I love it. You guys are here to help customers, and what are the ways someone can go ahead and start using Nirmata’s Kubernetes?”
Jim: “We have two different forms of distribution. The easiest one to try is our SaaS distribution, so you can just go to nirmata.io and sign up, try it out for yourself, and deploy your application on any cloud. If you prefer an on-premises version of Nirmata, we offer that too, and that will run as an application in your data center or on your cloud.”
Jo: “So, I want to hear your vision for the future of Nirmata and enterprises around the world. What is your ultimate vision for helping people with their containerized applications, and their journey to become containerized?”
Jim: “Containers are a means to an end, we don’t see the technology necessarily as a goal. We do believe that containers are the best way to package and manage applications. Really, our mission at Nirmata is to empower teams, software development and operations teams all over the world, to be able to manage their applications in an easy, scalable manner.
Our goal, our end vision is to be powering and operating millions of containers worldwide for all sorts of different applications and enabling these enterprise teams to build software better, faster, and more efficiently.”
Jo: “I love it, you’re bringing dev teams and ops teams together for the benefit of their companies.”
Jim: “Absolutely, yeah.”
Jo: “Thanks for joining us today Jim, it was a pleasure. Stay tuned for Kubernetes Radio!”
Jim: “Thanks Jo.”