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How to use Cloud Native Developer Platform as a Service

Kubernetes is recognized as a powerful tool, but its complexity can be challenging for some users. Despite being a solid foundation, there’s a need for tools and platforms that simplify Kubernetes for a broader audience. Recognizing Kubernetes as a platform to build platforms, there is now a dedicated effort to build a “cloud-native developer platform” on top of Kubernetes. This shift focuses on simplifying the user experience and reducing the learning curve associated with Kubernetes. 

However, there is a notable misunderstanding in the marketplace, particularly among hyperscalers, where Kubernetes is sometimes portrayed as a standalone solution. It serves as a foundational element, and building a comprehensive platform on top requires careful consideration and effort.

This blog will explore the growing use of the ‘Cloud Native Developer Platform as a Service.’ 

The evolution of Kubernetes over the years

Since its introduction by Google in 2014, Kubernetes has undergone major development, evolving from its early versions. Initially designed as an open-source container orchestration platform, Kubernetes quickly garnered widespread attention, and by 2016, it gained the support of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. As Kubernetes matured, the landscape changed. The significance of staying on the latest version has diminished, but there’s still a trend among professional and advanced development teams to seek the latest Kubernetes capabilities. The introduction of Cluster API, backed by various vendors, including Giant Swarm, marks a significant change. Cluster API simplifies Kubernetes clusters’ management, making it independent of the underlying infrastructure. This ongoing development aims to make cluster management more of a commodity.

Challenges in traditional orchestration platforms

Some of the challenges customers face when working with container orchestration platforms, like Amazon EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service) or Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), and the general journey of building and maintaining a platform include: 

  • Underestimation of complexity: Some organizations underestimate the complexity of building and maintaining a container orchestration platform. They may find it easy to start but struggle with the long-term challenges.
  • Thin platform teams: Platform teams are often understaffed, comprising only a few members. This shortage of personnel can make it difficult to handle the various tasks associated with building and maintaining the platform.
  • Tool overload: The allure of adding new and trendy tools to the platform can be enticing, but it can lead to issues in the long run. Managing and integrating multiple tools may become challenging, and maintenance overhead can increase.
  • Integration pitfalls: Building custom integrations or pipelines without proper planning can lead to problems. Integration points may become bottlenecks or even evolve into monolithic structures, making it hard to scale.
  • Ecosystem challenges: Choosing, onboarding, and managing tools within the Kubernetes ecosystem can be challenging. Keeping up with the fast-paced development and making informed decisions becomes crucial.
  • Scaling issues: As organizations grow and need to scale their infrastructure, they may encounter difficulties expanding their platform. Scalability issues can arise, especially when adding new clusters or integrating with additional cloud providers.
  • Burnout and turnover: The challenges and workload on platform teams may lead to burnout. High-pressure situations and inadequate resources can result in turnover, further impacting the platform’s stability. 
  • Legacy system migration: Having already built platforms on previous technologies, organizations may face challenges migrating to newer container orchestration solutions. Legacy systems may not seamlessly integrate, requiring careful planning and execution.
  • Decision reversals: Organizations might make wrong decisions initially, such as building custom integrations or choosing the wrong infrastructure, leading to the need for later reversals or significant adjustments.
  • Speed and critical workloads: Organizations that are late adopters and want to deploy critical workloads quickly may find balancing speed and robustness in their platform development challenging.

In a recent podcast by Amazic, Mr. Henning Lange, CEO of Giant Swarm, shows how the company can be an extension of your internal platform team that manages Kubernetes for your organization. This interesting conversation is a testament to how they are putting the ‘managed’ back into managed Kubernetes. 

Giant Swarm offers a cloud-native Developer Platform as a Service

Kubernetes is a powerful abstraction layer, providing a consistent experience irrespective of the underlying infrastructure. However, there are challenges in hybrid infrastructures, such as maintaining consistency and visibility across different platforms. 

Giant Swarm addresses these challenges through a consulting perspective, emphasizing the importance of architecture and robust Ops processes. The company supports a flexible approach, allowing customers to choose between running workloads in their data center or public cloud platforms based on their needs and use cases. 

Giant Swarm aims to empower developers and enable the deployment of critical workloads on cloud-native infrastructure. The platform accelerates the journey towards cloud-native adoption, providing benefits from day one, and promises a fast onboarding process with expert assistance. Giant Swarm operates within the data center and cloud accounts of its customers. This ensures the platform runs directly on the customer’s infrastructure, whether in their data center or cloud provider. 

Giant Swarm advises customers to consider using additional services from hyperscalers and be mindful of potential lock-in. The platform encourages customers to architect solutions that prioritize flexibility and minimize dependencies on platform-specific services. Good Operations (GiOps) plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of hybrid architectures. Giant Swarm emphasizes adopting effective Ops processes to achieve consistency, visibility, and streamlined operations across diverse infrastructure environments.

Future for managed cloud-native space

The maturation of the Kubernetes layer, particularly with the adoption of Cluster API, has made it easier to manage Kubernetes clusters. Looking ahead to the next one to two years, there is anticipation of Kubernetes becoming more standardized, with a growing trend of organizations embracing this technology. Additionally, there is a notable shift towards edge computing, with manufacturers and companies utilizing Kubernetes in diverse environments such as trains, ships, remote locations, telecom towers, and more. There is certainly a democratization of these technologies, with small startups and larger organizations, including those with smaller IT departments, expressing interest in leveraging Kubernetes without significant internal platform engineering investments.


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