Mirantis Acquires Open Source Lens IDE Project

Mirantis today revealed it has acquired Lens, an open source integrated development environment (IDE) designed specifically to build applications on top of Kubernetes clusters.

Lens was owned by the team that built Kontena, an IT services company. Mirantis hired the leadership of Kontena earlier this year. It is now acquiring the rights to Lens as well.

Lens is a desktop tool that makes it simpler for developers to build container applications that can be deployed on any distribution of Kubernetes, says company CEO Adrian Ionel. That approach is key because it prevents IT organizations from finding themselves locked into a specific platform. Applications deployed on a Kubernetes distribution running on one public cloud can be shifted to another platform as needed, he says.

Made available as an open source project on GitHub under an MIT license earlier this year, Mirantis claims there are now more than 35,000 users, including developers that work for Apple, Rakuten, Zendesk, TIM and Adobe. There are no plans at the moment to donate Lens to any industry consortium, adds Ionel.

Capable of being deployed on Windows, MacOS and Linux desktops, Lens provides developers with a context-aware terminal, access to built-in statistics gathered from an instance of open source Prometheus monitoring software that comes with Lens and comprehensive logging data. The built-in terminal maintains context using a version of the kubectl command line tool that is always compatible with whatever release of Kubernetes an organization is relying on. As developers switch from one cluster to another, the terminal maintains the correct kubectl version and context.

Lens also makes it possible to add clusters to the development environment by importing the kubeconfig file for any new cluster. Workspaces can also be created to organize clusters into logical groups.

The acquisition of Lens follows the move Mirantis made to acquire the Docker Enterprise last year from Docker Inc. Lens provides Mirantis with an application development environment that rivals Docker Desktop, which Docker Inc. retained the rights to after deciding to focus solely on application developers. Alternatively, some developers have been employing platforms such as Red Hat OpenShift. However, that approach is dependent on a specific distribution of Kubernetes.

Regardless of approach, making containerized applications easier to build is a critical lynchpin for expanding the overall size of the Kubernetes ecosystem. The easier it becomes to build applications that run natively on Kubernetes the more inevitable it becomes more IT organizations will need to deploy Kubernetes clusters.

In the meantime, the battle for the hearts and minds of developers is on. There may be millions of developers already using Docker Desktop to build container applications. However, there are still orders of magnitude more developers who have yet to adopt any type of tool for building container applications. As such, the opportunity to create an ecosystem around Lens as an alternative tool for building applications specifically intended to run on Kubernetes is nothing less than considerable.

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.

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