Keeping up with Kubernetes
a Discussion with Nirmata’s Anubhav Sharma
JoAnne McDougald: “Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another episode of Kubernetes Radio. I’m joined today by Nirmata’s Anu Sharma, and Anu, tell me a little bit about yourself, what you do for Nirmata, and what Nirmata does for the world.”
Anubhav Sharma: “Hey Jo. Thanks for having me. Again, I’m Anubhav Sharma and I run sales, business development, and alliances at Nirmata. Nirmata is focused on helping customers adopt Kubernetes across the enterprise and manage those containerized applications in a multi-cloud environment. We want to be that single pane of glass through which customers can manage their containerized workloads across clouds.”
Jo: “Terrific. And your role is business development, so you’re having those tough conversations. Clearly, Kubernetes is gaining momentum; tell me a little bit about why that is, and what some of the use cases are that people are bringing to you and what future they see in their organization through having an enterprise-wide Kubernetes stack.
The new adopters
Anu: “That’s a great question. I see three types of customers coming to us, who seem to be in three different stages of their journey. Right on the top are customers who are just looking to adopt containers—they’ve heard about it, and they try to figure out how to do it.
For example, maybe there’s a CIO out there who has decided that containerization is one of the top initiatives within the enterprise, and they’ve given the charter to an enterprise architect who comes looking for a solution to the problem of how to get the project going. So, that’s one. The typical challenge these types of customers go through are: ‘how do we go about it?’,’What kind of container management solution should we have?’, ‘What is the business case behind this?’ (that they can present to their own management and move towards this).
I think the benefits of adopting containerization is apparent, but how to you translate that into terms of sheer dollars, what does it mean this year, what does it mean next year? So, they’re dealing with those kinds of challenges, that are on one hand business-specific but on the other hand involve the complexity of adopting a new technology.”
Jo: “So, that’s customer number one, new adopters, what are the other use cases you see?”
The buy-or-build question
Anu: “The other ones are customers who have built something, they’ve played around with Kubernetes, but now they’re trying to figure out how to make this production-grade: ‘how do we move this from the lab to the production environment?’, ‘What are the considerations to IT operations to manage this environment?’ With containers, applications and infrastructure are coming together. What does that mean for the infrastructure management team? What does it mean for the application management team? What are the roles they have to play in this new world of containers?
These customers are dealing with those kinds of challenges, and are trying to figure out the questions ‘how do we adopt this?’, ‘How do we make this production grade within the enterprise?’
Jo: “Is this sort of the buy-or-build category, where they’ve tried to build it themselves and they’ve decided ‘actually, in order for this to be enterprise-grade, this is something we should have bought.’
Anu: “You’re absolutely right. I think this is the point at which they have to decide the question ‘should we invest in additional resources to take this forward, or should we look at a managed solution that can help us get there?’ I think what customers typically realize when they get to this stage is that there’s a lot of undifferentiated heavy lifting involved in adopting Kubernetes. They want to focus on application management and accelerating that journey versus worrying about all the infrastructure policies, etc. that they have to manage.
When they look at what Nirmata does—what we actually do is abstract all that away from them. All of that platform takes care of ‘how do you manage those workloads in an AWS cloud?’ Or Azure, or your private infrastructure, or a bare metal infrastructure. We take care of all of that. Basically, we let them focus on building their apps, deploying their apps, managing and accelerating that journey. That’s the trend that we’re seeing in the second category.
Reining in multi-cloud complexity
For the third category, these are customers that have actually done production grade deployments. Maybe they took help off of Google cloud or GKE, they have managed clusters in a public cloud environment, or they built something on private infrastructure, but they are now thinking about ‘how do we manage this in a multi-cloud environment?’ We have workloads that are sitting in public cloud, workloads sitting in private infrastructure, but we need to have a way of managing all of that. Because managing policies, managing the specific roles and capabilities that you need to have for each of these clusters, they’re very different. They suddenly realize the complexity that comes with this and the kind of talent and knowledge you need to have for managing this disparate infrastructure, is a lot. At some point in time, it starts making business sense for you to start thinking about whether you need to have an AWS cloud expert, and a Google expert, and an Azure expert—“
Jo: “Wow, the dollars are just ringing up in my head!”
Anu: “Hey, you know, that’s great for these public cloud companies, but for enterprises it starts getting a little out of hand. We’ve seen customers at that stage coming to us and saying: ‘So, you have a way of providing a single pane view of all the clusters we’ve got across all the clouds. We can easily manage that. We don’t have to worry about specific policies of AWS versus Google. You have the capability to do single-click migration of an app from one environment to another. When they see all that, then they realize ‘this is how we can operationalize Kubernetes across our enterprise, across the cloud.’”
Nirmata’s resources for pitching containerization in your organization
Jo: “So, I work in marketing and a lot of times when I’m running a big event and there’s a registration form that includes a letter so people can tell their boss the reason they should attend—do you guys have an ‘easy button’ for somebody to work this channel up they chain? Let’s say they’ve found you and they’re realizing their lives could be so much better, what is the easy button document they could share within their organization that’s already been written by Nirmata that they should read and share with their teams?”
Anu: “Actually, we have different documents based on the different stages customers are at. For a customer that is just starting the journey, we have a very nice enterprise buyers’ guide that customers can take a look at that helps them think through what the key considerations are when they’re thinking about container management solutions. We have a great white paper on how to build a business case for containerization as well. It’s about application consolidation, a great way to get a quick win and demonstrate internally how containerization helps.
Containerization in the long run delivers you benefits, both in terms of reducing your overall resource footprint, and also helping you accelerate. The number of features you can roll out, how quickly you can roll them out, the level of business agility that you can bring into your enterprise is all realizable, but it’s a step-by-step process. Our CFOs want to see, ‘what can you do for me this quarter and the next?’ This is a great white paper to get you going and keep those CFOs happy.”
Jo: “That’s great. It sounds like Nirmata helps build both quick wins as well as long term wins. I love it. So, tell me, we’re here at ‘Keeping up with Kubernetes’—where do you go to keep up with Kubernetes?”
Anu: “Great question. The community is so big, and I get to learn from a lot of different places. Kubernetes’ own documentation is very rich, but I also go to Medium. There are a lot of experts writing great articles on Medium. What I’m focused on in my role is what customers’ adoption challenges are. So, I’m really interested in the intersection of technology and the business and operations. For that, it could be a lot of different articles about adoption of new technology. Some of the things we discuss as a use case amongst ourselves—it’s interesting to see that suddenly it’s become an official Kubernetes-sponsored project.
I was just discussing IoT edge use cases with a customer a couple of months ago. A few weeks ago we saw IoT edge appear as part of Kubernetes It’s great to see that the ideas that we are coming up with and we are thinking about in terms of what is possible with Kubernetes are things that others are thinking through as well and are converging on similar kinds of use cases. I think that’s a great testimony to the community that is around Kubernetes and how they are thinking about different problems out there, operational and architecture problems that can be solved with Kubernetes.
So yes, I think there are a lot of different resources, and I would also say that we have one of the widest Meetup groups (the Microservices Meetup), and I get to learn a lot from that community. It’s sponsored by Nirmata, and we’ve been running it for about five years and it has five thousand plus members. It’s a pretty large community out here in the Bay Area. That’s a great way for us to understand how different users are adopting this technology, what kind of challenges they’re going through, and to me that’s where the rubber meets the road and you realize what kind of new features and functionality you can bring in your platform.
Jo: “Love it. I for one am going to be following Keeping up with Kubernetes on SoundCloud, and it’ll also be live on the Nirmata websites, so come and enjoy Keeping up with Kubernetes. Thank you so much today for joining us Anu, and we will see you out there on the sound waves.”
Anu: “Thanks for the opportunity, thanks Jo.”