June 25, 2017

While the Kubernetes container orchestration framework has generated a lot of enthusiasm, mastering it can be a significant challenge for IT organizations.

To make Kubernetes more accessible, CoreOS has created Operators, a set of open-source applications that IT organizations can employ to invoke a specific Kubernetes function.

CoreOS CTO Brandon Philips says the first two operator applications are now available for etcd key value software and the Prometheus container monitoring tool. In time, he says, CoreOS will develop additional Operators as part of its efforts to deliver Google Infrastructure for Everyone Else (GIFEE).

The end goal, says Philips, is to make it possible to declarative use simple commands to add capabilities to a Kubernetes cluster without any programming skills being required. Operators software can provide that capability by extending the Kubernetes application programming interfaces (APIs) in a way that make it possible to create, configure and manage stateful applications, he notes.

Making Kubernetes more accessible will be crucial in terms of driving adoption in the enterprise. Most IT administrators today don’t have programming skills. In some environments, developers are responsible for managing containers. But most enterprise IT organizations prefer their developers to spend most of their time writing code rather than managing IT infrastructure; after all, the limited number of developers they have already are coping with significant amounts of application development backlog.

Most of those administrators are IT generalists who don’t have much expertise when it comes to container orchestration platforms. Organizations such as Google, in contrast, have a deep bench of engineering talent capable of programming just about any type of IT infrastructure imaginable. There are very few engineers actually working inside a classic enterprise IT organization.

Of course, this issue is not lost on backers of rival container orchestration platforms. Docker Inc., for example, is specifically targeting class IT administrators with a set of visual tools designed to make managing its container orchestration platform easier. Via Operators, CoreOS is aiming to take that issue off the proverbial IT table. By making Operators available as open-source software, CoreOS is hoping the entire Kubernetes community will start developing software that makes Kubernetes more accessible to a much larger swath of the IT community, Philips says.

In fact, one of the primary reason so many containers are deployed on top of virtual machine is that most IT organizations don’t have access to native container management tools. It’s a lot easier for them to manage the virtual machine on which the container is deployed regardless of how inefficient that approach might be.

In general, it will take a significant amount of time for enterprise IT organizations to fully embrace containers. IT administrators who lack tools they can use to manage containers will continue to be reluctant to deploy containerized applications in production environments. The challenge facing providers of container technologies today is to help bridge the gap between the enthusiasm developers have for containers and the ability of the IT organization to be able to manage them.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.