May 27, 2018

Rackspace this week unfurled an ambitious effort to manage instances of Kubernetes clusters wherever they are deployed through a managed Kubernetes service.

Scott Crenshaw, executive vice president and general manager for private clouds at Rackspace, says the company initially will focus on deploying Rackspace Kubernetes-as-a-Service on top of instances of OpenStack, which it developed originally.

But eventually Rackspace will support instances of Kubernetes running on multiple public clouds, virtual machines from VMware running on-premises or in a public cloud, and on bare-metal servers.

Those instances of Kubernetes will be based on a common distribution of Kubernetes, eliminating the need for IT organizations to manage distributions from different cloud service providers, which all have been tweaked to take advantage of specific cloud storage and networking interfaces, says Crenshaw. Unlike other platforms, managing distributed instances of the same Kubernetes distribution is easier to do with Kubernetes because of the level of attention the Kubernetes community has paid to developing an open source application programming interface (API), he says.

That level of flexibility is critical because, over time, the cost of running applications on Kubernetes is likely to change. Working with the same distribution of Kubernetes from Rackspace will make it easier to move application workloads when warranted, says Crenshaw.

While Kubernetes has become easier to stand up, Crenshaw notes that most organizations will find maintaining Kubernetes clusters running in multiple environments to be a significant challenge. At the same time, many of those same organizations are trying to reallocate their IT staffs to focus more on building and deploying applications rather than managing infrastructure. Many organizations are starting to realize there’s no inherent business value attached to infrastructure, so they are shifting more of their focus to applications. Because of that issue, many organizations are retraining their own limited staffing resources to focus more on software, he says.

Rackspace is not committing just yet to managing those applications. But Crenshaw notes that other units of the managed service provider (MSP) have begun managing monolithic applications on behalf of its customers in the last year.

Crenshaw also claims that organizations that outsource the management of Kubernetes to Rackspace will find they can reduce their total operational costs by 50 percent.

Most IT organizations today are still significantly short of internal Kubernetes expertise. In the meantime, developers are cranking out more containerized applications than ever. For many IT organizations that are seeing the backlog of containerized applications that must be deployed building, the better part of valor may be to rely more on an external service provider.

Of course, there’s no shortage of managed Kubernetes service providers. The challenge is finding one that provides the highest level of flexibility, because chances are, there may come a time when, for whatever reason, moving applications from one cloud service provider becomes a high priority within an organization.

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.