This DevOps Chat is with Madhura Maskasky, co-founder and VP of product at Platform9. If you are not familiar, Platform9 offers an “open source as a service.” While that sounds pretty cool, think managed hybrid cloud and now managed Kubernetes in an infrastructure-agnostic service.
Madhura does a great job of explaining this, so have a listen for yourself. As usual, below the streaming audio player is a written transcript of our session.
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone, this is Alan Shimel of DevOps.com here for another DevOps Chat. Our guest on today’s DevOps Chat is Madhura Maskasky. Madhura, welcome and thanks for joining us.
Maskasky: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Alan Shimel: Madhura, I didn’t mention in introducing you; you are with Platform9, an open source-as-a-service company. Correct?
Maskasky: Yeah. I’m VP of Product and co-founder at Platform 9 Systems. What Platform9 does is we pioneered a unique model, a SaaS-based model for deployment of complex open-source cloud-native frameworks such as OpenStack and Kubernetes.
Alan Shimel: Beyond sort of that tagline, Madhura, I believe—was it your co-founder or CEO that I might have interviewed at—I want to say it might have been the DevOps Enterprise Summit.
Maskasky: Yeah. It must be Sirish Raghuram.
Alan Shimel: Yeah. It was kind of my first introduction of Platform9 and I was kind of taken with the business model. I thought it was interesting and unlike anything I had seen to that point. As I mentioned, Madhura, beyond the tagline, can you give our audience really a sense of what it is that Platform9 is doing?
Maskasky: Absolutely. As we started, our roots come from VMware. That’s where myself and my co-founder spent about seven-plus years. A common theme that we saw working with mid to large-sized enterprise customers at that time was the amount of struggle they were going through trying to realize this vision of a private cloud, which was a concept that had started becoming popular for a about a year at that point.
The reason for it starting to become popular was because public cloud had set such an exceptionally high bar for how easy it can be to consume infrastructure. But yet, enterprises, customers of VMware or otherwise, were really failing to live up to that high bar and create an equal offering that utilized their internal resources that might be based on their data centers or in a hybrid way, but create a similar and seamless interface for their internal consumers to consume those resources.
So Platform9 started with the vision that it should be easy, fundamentally as easy as consuming a public cloud, for anyone to consume resources from any infrastructure endpoints, whether they’re private of pubic or hybrid. We wanted to do this using possibly an open source software that’s available, because we also felt strongly that open source is going to be the new norm of how cloud infrastructure is consumed.
So specifically what Platform9 does, our very first product offering was managed OpenStack, our OpenStack-as-a-service. What that model means is that we deploy the OpenStack control plane in a SaaS-hosted manner. The control plane is deployed outside of our customer’s data center, and then it integrates with their data center or their public cloud endpoint via a mechanism of an agent.
An agent, if you have a private infrastructure, the agents become the bridge between the private infrastructure and our cloud-hosted control plane. And if you have a public cloud, then we have drivers that interact directly with that pubic cloud endpoint. So, that’s really how the model works, and it lets you get up and running with OpenStack in a matter of minutes.
Now we’ve repeated the same model with Kubernetes, which is the most powerful container orchestration framework for building your applications using the microservices paradigm, where Kubernetes is also deployed as a SaaS-hosted service on the infrastructure endpoints of the device, so private or public endpoints.
Alan Shimel: Got it. Of course when I look at it, Madhura, I see, okay, so you had the OpenStack offering, OpenStack-as-a-service, and now you dig into the Kubernetes and containers. I have to assume that—and maybe I shouldn’t assume. Let me ask you: How quickly is that OpenStack market growing?
Maskasky: We’ve seen a pretty significant growth in our OpenStack customer base just year over year. In 2016 we were at about 50 customers strong. There have been multiple statistics that forecast a pretty strong overall growth in OpenStack revenue for 2017-plus as well. Just yesterday I think I was reading an article that was mentioning a multibmillion-dollar projected revenue growth in the overall OpenStack market, and the fact that Fortune 500s are going to be consuming increasingly OpenStack.
So even with containers, virtualized infrastructures are not going away any time soon, and the big challenge that enterprise customers face that we see is, on one hand, they are looking to save some money by converting part of their currently virtualized infrastructure into open-source Linux KVM and use OpenStack versus, say, going entirely the VMware route. Or, on the other hand, some customers start by being 100 percent public cloud consumers, but then realize that that’s a very expensive model at scale, and hence want to go to more of a hybrid deployment, where part of their infrastructure is hosted privately or in a service provider data center.
For both of those cases Platform9 is an extremely good fit because we support both VMware as well as KVM and because of our as-a-service model.
Alan Shimel: Got it. What about Kubernetes? Maybe it’s because I live in a DevOps bubble, but that seems to be kind of taking off, huh?
Maskasky: Kubernetes is taking off in a pretty significant way. We felt that Kubernetes was going to start building this level of momentum about a year or so ago, as we were looking at the different container orchestration frameworks and evaluating them for their pros and cons, and the other two optimal ones are Mesos and Docker Swarm.
Mesos and Docker was in its very early stages with its offering at that time, but the primary reason for Kubernetes being so popular is I would say three important factors associated with it. One is from project maturity. They were kind of the most mature projects—it was built inside Google and vetted inside Google before it became the open source project that it is today. It had a pretty significant community outside of simply Google developers, who are actively contributing to it.
A new version comes out every three to four months and the pace of iteration is just astounding. In 3 it has a number of enterprise customers publicly vouching for it by showcasing the use cases and examples of how they are leveraging it.
Alan Shimel: Got it. Madhura, now that we’ve got that straight, let’s talk a little bit about recent news from Platform9. Do you want to share with our audience?
Maskasky: Absolutely. We shared two pieces of news recently, actually just a week ago. The first one was that the managed Kubernetes offering, which has been in beta for about six months, is now generally available. They’ve had the opportunity to have the offering beta tested with a couple dozen customers since we announced it around June of 2016. So now we are excited to share with the world that it is generally available.
What it is again, pure Kubernetes deployed as a SaaS-managed service. We think it’s the industry’s first infrastructure agnostic Kubernetes-as-a-service offering, because it lets you consume both your private and public infrastructure, and it comes built-in with a number of enterprise readiness features like multi-tenancies, single sign-on, quota management, as well as being able to deploy highly available Kubernetes clusters.
Alan Shimel: That’s great. Definitely, again, I just think there’s something—I think the market desperately needs this kind of offering. I remember when OpenStack first came out. Actually, if you remember Cloud.com, Martin Nickens I think was involved in that one and several other companies. It was really at that point in the evolution of migration to the cloud; it was important that people were able to get all the pieces in one box, if you will—cloud-in-a-box, for lack of a better word.
But in today’s world even that paradigm doesn’t work. People want as-a-service. So if they can get a Kubernetes kind of infrastructure-as-a-service like this and agnostic, it’s fantastic. Also, something called Fission was introduced as well, yes?
Maskasky: That’s right. That was the second part of our announcement, which is we announced a new open-source framework called Fission. What it is, is it’s designed to be the de facto open-source alternative to AWS Lambda.
Alan Shimel: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cut you off. Go ahead.
Maskasky: No worries, Alan. So just some context behind it. When it comes to serverless, AWS has really made Lambda extremely popular and introduced this new paradigm of function as a service. But a problem with it that we see is the fact that it locks you into the AWS ecosystem, because Lambda is firmly designed to integrate with all the other Amazon services that are offered in their ecosystem, but it doesn’t necessarily provide built-in integrations for the most popular open-source tools and frameworks that your developers might want to use.
It kind of goes back to an important piece that we’ve always held, which is the development community loves to embrace the right sort of tools that let them do their job well. They like choice and they do not like being told or being scripted to go to a set of one tools only. So those are some of the motivations behind Fission.
Now Fission is also built off of Kubernetes, and by having that focus on Kubernetes it has an added advantage that it simplifies consumption of Kubernetes as well.
Alan Shimel: Got it. In my mind, the company has positioned these Kubernetes offerings to really take a leadership position as we see Kubernetes and containers really kind of explode onto the scene. What’s next for Platform9?
Maskasky: Kubernetes and containerization is a big part of our road map and our strategy for 2017-plus. We’re just getting started with managed Kubernetes going generally available. We have a ton of work ahead of us as part of our road map, and we’re looking for customer feedback as well, truly making the offering cloud-agnostic, enabling as many current points as our customers would like us to offer with built-in integrations, providing the ability to create federated clusters across these current point. So, in a nutshell, really realizing that true hybrid container-as-a-service vision through the managed Kubernetes offering.
That’s one. The second big part is, again, Fission. Fission has just gotten started as an open-source project. We’re looking to make it the de facto way of running function as a service within Kubernetes. So we’re looking to work with the CNCF, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and we are looking for the Kubernetes community to really start investing in it.
We’re seeing some grassroots early traction adoption. Someone in the community recently built a dot-net client for Fission and out-of-box support for Node.js and have been building support for Go. We’ve been hearing folks who started using Fission on top of their internal community’s deployment and they’re telling us about their use cases. So these are all some points of feedback, so we want to grow and build on that.
Alan Shimel: Got it. Madhura, as I promised you before we came on, the time goes so quickly. We’re already past 15 minutes, but it’s okay. I think we got a great—at least a taste of what Platform9 is all about, and perhaps we could find out more on another DevOps Chat or maybe an article here on DevOps.com or Container Journal, as the Kubernetes stuff certainly lends itself to that.
Madhura, where can people find out more information?
Maskasky: The best way to find out more about everything happening on Platform9 is by going to our website, Platform9.com. You can also follow us on Twitter. The handle is @Platform9Sys. Fission has its own website, Fission.io, and you can also follow Fission on Twitter as well. The handle is @Fissionio. So that’s the best way to stay on top of all our news.
Alan Shimel: Fantastic. Madhura—and I’m still mispronouncing your name probably, I apologize—Maskasky, thank you for being this episode’s guest on DevOps Chat. Continued success of Platform9 and please keep us posted. I love the open-source angle. I love the Kubernetes sort of as a service, the serverless stuff with Fission, very, very exciting stuff you guys are doing over there. So please keep us posted and best of luck.
Maskasky: Thanks, Alan. Thank you for having me. This was a lot of fun chatting with you and absolutely I will keep you posted.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. This is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com on another DevOps Chat, and we hope to see you on another one, another chat hopefully soon. Have a great day, everyone.