The Kubernetes container platform is largely still a work in progress, so naturally there’s a need for a lot of support from external service providers. Most internal IT organizations, however, still don’t have much in the way of Kubernetes expertise. One of the providers of a curated instance of Kubernetes is stepping into fill the void: Heptio, which has launched the Heptio Kubernetes Subscription (HKS) service, through which it ensures that the instance being provided is always compatible with the latest upstream instance of Kubernetes made available by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
Eryn Muetzel, head of product marketing at Heptio, says her company is trying to address the issue of rival distributions of Kubernetes, which are usually a few or more releases behind the CNCF. In most cases, it’s because they have extended the platform to add some form of unique value. In contrast, Heptio is committed to making available extensions in a way that doesn’t change the core code provided by CNCF. In addition, whatever extensions the company creates will be contributed back to the Kubernetes community or to the appropriate open source project, says Muetzel.
In every recommendation Heptio makes, Muetzel says the company will also insist on supporting an open source tool over any commercial offerings. Heptio is touting its approach as an “undistribution,” in that its curated instance of Kubernetes makes it possible for IT organizations to deploy it on-premises or in a public cloud running on virtual machines or bare-metal servers. In contrast, cloud service providers are exposing instances that still serve to lock in customers, she says.
Muetzel says IT organizations should not be forced to compromise between attaining support from a single vendor and flexibility. IT organizations want to be able to deploy various classes on workloads on top of a consistent implementation of Kubernetes as they see fit. Each platform then can be weighed on its own merits versus essentially forcing an IT organization to make a specific long-term commitment for all workloads. That’s especially critical should they ever want to move a workload, says Muetzel.
Heptio is also committed to keeping pricing for 24/7 support for Kubernetes simple, Muetzel notes. The company provides support services in three sizes that IT organizations can move between as needed. In contrast, rival approaches to services contracts lock customers into a specific class of service that can range as high as $15,000 per server.
Founded by two of the co-inventors of Kubernetes, Heptio is pursuing something of a purist approach. It’s not clear to what degree IT organizations will appreciate that zeal just yet. But when it comes to multicloud computing, no platform in recent memory has shown as much promise as Kubernetes. The challenge now is making sure that promise gets fulfilled by limiting the opportunities IT vendors often take to fork open source code in a way that tends to their interests more than the individual customer.