August 16, 2017

Now that IT organizations are getting more comfortable with containers, IT vendors are starting to position themselves to provide the frameworks through which all those containers will be managed. SUSE has become the latest to join the pack with the release of a beta version of a SUSE Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) Platform that is optimized for managing container deployments on bare metal servers.

Although most containers today are deployed on top of virtual machines, SUSE CTO Thomas Di Giacomo says it’s only a matter of time before many more containers are running on bare-metal servers. Developers have enthusiastically embraced containers to make it easier to update and distribute their applications. But IT operations teams, for the most part, don’t have frameworks in place to directly manage those containers. Because of that issue, it’s more practical for IT operations to deploy those containers on top of virtual machines. But that approach also limits the number of containers that can be run per physical servers. Di Giacomo says a desire to maximize server utilization as much as possible will push IT organizations away from virtual machines.

To facilitate that transition, SUSE is providing organizations with early access to a CaaS environment running on top of a SLE MicroOS host and the Kubernetes container orchestration engine. Within that environment, SUSE is also employing open-source Salt automation software along with other routines to automate the container management process.

SUSE already makes available an implementation of Kubernetes running on OpenStack, which some organizations use as an alternative to VMware for deploying containers on top of an open-source virtual machine. But Di Giaccomo says the SUSE CaaS platform signals that SUSE expects to see a major shift in how containers are deployed and managed. As an indication of how serious SUSE is about containers, it also is now a gold member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which oversees Kubernetes alongside several other container technology projects.

There’s a lot of debate these days in the open-source community concerning where Kubernetes ends and other frameworks such as OpenStack will begin. The latest version of Kubernetes can span as many as 5,000 nodes. There’s even an effort underway lead by Google, Intel and Mirantis to port OpenStack to Kubernetes.

Of course, Kubernetes is not the only orchestration engine in the container game. But it does seem to have attracted the broadest amount of support across the industry, resulting in a lot of engineering resources being poured into make Kubernetes a viable platform the enterprise. The benefit of a CaaS platform built on top of Kubernetes is to not only abstract away some of the underlying complexity associated with Kubernetes, but also automate as many manual function as possible.

In the meantime, most IT organizations will spend much of the next year coming up to speed on container management before deciding of and to what degree they want to abandon their existing IT management frameworks.

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.