Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Heptio Builds Bridge to Kubernetes 

Heptio, the startup launched in 2016 by the creators of the Kubernetes container orchestrator, is launching an open source initiative along with partner Actapio aimed at bridging cloud native and existing infrastructure by scaling network traffic into hybrid frameworks.

The Seattle-based startup announced this week it is working with the U.S. subsidiary of Yahoo Japan Corp. to help unify network traffic consisting of multiple Kubernetes clusters and traditional infrastructure such as OpenStack private and public clouds.

The open source project dubbed “Gimbal” seeks to promote adoption of the container orchestrator in existing infrastructure by routing heavy traffic into both Kubernetes clusters and cloud infrastructure services like OpenStack. The project also reflects the expanding integration of Kubernetes with various distributions of OpenStack, including VMware’s, that among other features provide customers with cloud access to virtual servers.

Among the themes of next month’s OpenStack Summit is running Kubernetes on OpenStack.

Unlike current approaches, the partners said Monday (April 23) the cloud native initiative is geared to handling the performance requirements of managing Kubernetes workloads. Ultimately, they said Gimbal can tap into the agility of cloud native systems while bringing legacy infrastructure up to speed.

The partnership addresses “broader infrastructure considerations” beyond simply managing container-based applications, said Heptio CEO Craig McLuckie. “Systems like Gimbal help to pragmatically bridge existing systems and new cloud native infrastructure like Kubernetes.”

Heptio, which emerged from stealth modein November 2016 to help push Kubernetes into production, and partner Actapio said their cloud native approach specifically aims to manage “high scale web workloads.” Hence, Gimbal stresses integration of the cluster orchestrator with “dynamic workloads.” It also serves as an alternative to cloud “load balancers” as a way of decoupling workloads from supporting infrastructure. That attribute, the partners said, qualifies Gimbal as “multi-cloud ready.”

Norifumi Matsuya, CEO and president at Actapio, said the Japan Yahoo unit approached Heptio about upgrading its infrastructure “without ripping out legacy investments in OpenStack and other back-end systems.” The result was a cloud-native load balancing platform used to increase “deployment agility” along with the ability to scale web traffic across OpenStack and Kubernetes, the partners said.

“Many large organizations have existing workloads in non-containerized platforms,” Heptio added in a blog post. “They want to shift these workloads and development tooling to cloud native platforms like Kubernetes but encounter similar issues in managing how and where to route traffic in a cloud-native way without disrupting their customer experience.”

The partners also noted that existing approaches are not designed to support dynamic, rapidly scaling cloud native deployments. Rather than a traditional load balancer, Heptio promotes Gimbal as a “multi-platform load balancing control plane that enables businesses to manage traffic across traditional and container-based infrastructure using cloud native design patterns.”

Gimbal is currently “under active development.” Details of the project currently in “alpha” testing mode are here.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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