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KubeCon CloudNativeCon 2017 Takeaways + 2018 Predictions

It was a crazy 2017 for me with 300,000 miles of business travel, but it was all worth it to experience every major cloud provider adopt Kubernetes in some fashion and grow our community to 14 projects total! Also, it was amazing to help host 4000+ people in Austin for KubeCon/CloudNativeCon, where it actually snowed!

I’d like to share some personal take aways I had from the conference (of course with accompanying tweets) that will serve as predictions for 2018:

Exciting Times for Boring Container Infrastructure!

One of the themes from the conference was that the Kubernetes community was working hard to make infrastructure boring. In my humble opinion, Kubernetes becomes something like “POSIX of the cloud” or “Linux of the Cloud” where Kubernetes is solidifying kernel space but the excitement should be in user space.

The Open Container Initiative (OCI) community also held a meeting where it celebrated its v1.0 release to make containers a bit more boring and standardized.

In 2018, look for the boring infrastructure pattern to continue, the OCI community is planning to make distribution a bit more boring via a proposed distribution API specification. I also predict that some of the specialized/boutique cloud providers who haven’t offered Kubernetes integration will do so finally in 2018.

CNCF + KubeCon and CloudNativeCon: Home of Open Infrastructure

CNCF has a community of independently governed projects, as of today which there are 14 of covering all parts of cloud native. There’s Prometheus which integrates beautifully with Kubernetes but also brings modern monitoring practices to environments outside of cloud native land too! There’s Envoy which is a cloud native edge and proxy, that integrates with Kubernetes through projects like Contour or Istio, however, Envoy can be used in any environment where a reverse proxy is used. gRPC is a universal RPC framework that can help you build services that run on Kubernetes or any environment for that matter! There are many other CNCF projects that have use cases outside of just purely a cloud native environment and we will see more of that usage grow over time to help companies in transition to a cloud native world.

In 2018, look for CNCF conferences continue to grow, expand locations (hello China) and truly become the main event for open source infrastructure. In Austin it was incredible to have talks and people from the Ansible to Eclipse to JVM to Openstack to Zephyr communities (and more). I can’t think of any other event that brings together open source infrastructure across all layers of the cloud native landscape.

Moving up the Stack: 2018 is Year of Service Meshes

Service meshes are fairly a new concept (I highly recommend this blog post by Matt Klein if you’re new to the concept) and will become the middleware of the cloud native world. In CNCF, we currently host Envoy and linkerd which helped poineer this space. In 2018, I expect more service mesh related projects to be open sourced along with more participation from traditional networking vendors. We will also see some of the projects in this space to mature with real production usage.

Cloud Native AI + Machine Learning: Kubeflow

In 2018, ML focused workloads and projects will find ways to integrate with Kubernetes to help scale and encourage portability of infrastructure. Just take a look at the kubeflow project which aims to make ML with Kubernetes easy, portable and scalable. Note, this doesn’t mean that AI/ML folks will have to become Kubernetes experts, all this means is that Kubernetes will be powering more AI/ML workloads (and potentially even sharing their existing cloud native infrastructure). I expect more startups to form in this space (see RiseML as an example), look to see a “cloud native” AI movement that focuses on portability of workloads.

Developer Experience Focus and Cloud Native Tooling

One of my favorite keynotes from KubeCon was Brendan Burns speaking about, a standard library for cloud native applications. I completely agree with his premise that we need to democratize distributed systems development. Not everyone developer needs to know about Kubernetes the same way not every developer needs to understand POSIX. In 2018, we are going to see an explosion of open source “cloud native languages” that will offer multiple approaches to democratizing distributed systems development.

Also in 2018, I expect us to see growth in cloud native development environments (IDEs) to provide better developer experience. As an example, for those that were wondering why there was an Eclipse Foundation booth at KubeCon, they were demoing a technology called Eclipse Che which is a cloud native IDE framework (your workspace is composed of docker/container images). Che is a framework that helps you build Cloud Native IDEs too, for example, is OpenShift integrated with Che to provide you a fully blown online development experience.

Finally in 2018, I expect the developer experience of installing Kubernetes applications improved, including the underlying technology for doing so. For example, the Service Catalog work and websites like showcase what is possible in making it easier for people to install Kubernetes app/integrations, we’ll see this grow significantly in 2018. Also I predict that the Helm community will grow faster than it has before.

Diversity and Inclusion

One of my favorite take aways from the conference was the focus on diversity and inclusion within our community:

We (thank you amazing diversity committee) raised $250,000 and helped over 100 diversity scholarship recipients attend KubeCon/CloudNativeCon in Austin. In 2018, I predict and truly hope some other event will match or beat this.

Anyways, after a crazy 2017, I can’t wait to grow our communities in 2018.