Insights / Blog / KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2021 Launched with Explosive Growth!
October 18, 2021

KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2021 Launched with Explosive Growth!

Paul Nashawaty
Principal Analyst

Market Topics

Application Modernization

dash-logoThis year’s KubeCon + CloudNativeCon did not disappoint! As a hybrid event, there were many attendees in person as well as virtual, and the event coordinators did a great job at seamlessly transitioning between the attendees. At this year’s North America event, the coverage areas focused on application definition/development, orchestration/management, runtime, and provisioning. There was also a “special” category for offerings supporting cloud-native technology that did not fit into the other groupings.

The direction for the cloud-native growth, container adoption, and overall messaging from vendors at this event strongly aligns with our new syndicated research just coming back from the field. Our 2021 Data Infrastructure Trends survey (released in September) and 2021 Hyperconverged Infrastructure 2.0 survey (to be released this month) provide unique insights based on detailed data sets that support the direction of these vendors.

To put the size of this year’s show into perspective, the CNCF Cloud Native Interactive Landscape trail map for the event listed 982 cards (vendor attendees), with a market cap of $15.8T and funding of $27.7B.

In addition to the large industry players, including IBM Cloud, Red Hat, Google Cloud, VMware, Cisco, HPE and Intel, there were a lot of new, emerging companies at the event. Unfortunately, I could not see them all, but I am interested in following up with the vendors I may have missed.

Application Definition and Development

This area was the largest and most focused segment at the event. Vendors, both established and up-and-coming, demonstrated how they support databases and streaming media as well as application definition and image building, continuous integration, and delivery (CI/CD).

Highlights include:

  • Fairwinds introduced Cloud-Native Service Ownership to help DevOps teams’ own security, reliability, and efficiency configurations while ensuring all service owners follow Kubernetes best practices. Also, the integration from CI/CD to production empowers continuous improvement.
  • Mattermost did a demo for their open-source platform for secure collaboration across the entire software development lifecycle.

Orchestration and Management

In this area, vendors delivered offerings and solutions, supporting scheduling and orchestration, coordination and service discovery, remote procedure calls, service proxy, API gateways, and service mesh.

Highlights include:

  • Kubernetes promoted their offering in the orchestration area.
  • Crossplane showed their CNCF incubating efforts. This enables platform teams to assemble infrastructure from multiple vendors and provides self-service APIs for app developers to consume without writing code.
  • Zookeeper and Etcd as well as CoreDNS represented the coordination and service discovery area.
  • gRPC provided an overview of their remote procedure call delivering and open-source universal RPC framework to take applications the “last mile” for distributed computing to connected devices.
  • Nik’s session at, a cool technology that enhances open source Istio and Envoy Proxy to provide a secure service mesh API gateway. As you move to cloud, microservices, Kubernetes containers, and serverless functions, check out If you want to learn more, check out my recently published white paper on using enterprise versions of the Istio open source service mesh to bridge the gap between on-premises and cloud-native applications to solve scaling, security, and resilience challenges.


Vendors in this section focused on cloud-native storage, container runtime, and cloud native networking.

Highlights include:

  • SUSE Rancher, which is intriguing not only because it delivers open-source software that enables organizations to deploy and manage Kubernetes at scale, on any infrastructure across the data center, cloud, branch offices, and the network edge, but also because of the growth potential.
  • The open source hyperconverged infrastructure, Harvester, also has real grow potential in the market. ESG’s 2021 Hyperconverged Infrastructure 2.0 survey (to be released this month) supports the data in the growth of the open source community.
  • MayaData promises to simplify Kubernetes storage for enterprises by leveraging OpenEBS, an open source container-attached storage for Kubernetes. OpenEBS, included in CNCF as a storage project, enables workloads both horizontally by scaling and vertically by providing a software-defined storage layer for replicating storage. I am curious how my friends at HPE Ezmeral, Canonical Ubuntu, and DataCore are going to work with this technology in the future.


And we cannot forget about provisioning. Automation and configuration, container registry, security and compliance, and key management were the focus areas here.

Highlights include:

  • Spectro cloud provides developers highly curated Kubernetes stacks and tools based on their specific needs, with granular governance and enterprise-grade security.
  • Anchore delivered a presentation demonstrating security of containers. The use of open-source tools Syft and Grype generates SBOMs and identify vulnerabilities.
  • Rookout’s dynamic observability platform is a cloud-native debugging and live data collection solution that caters to developers by giving them instant access to the code-level data.

More To Come

This event is growing! In addition to the areas I mentioned, other areas I briefly touched on were platforms (supporting Kubernetes distributions, serverless offerings, observability and analysis for monitoring, logging, and tracing as well as chaos engineering). This was a much larger event than its KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2021 counterpart, which I covered in this blog back in May.

I believe the best is yet to come! This year’s tag line (Resilience Realized) could not be more appropriate. There is so much growth and interest in this space that my prediction is that next year’s event will far exceed where this year’s event left off. There is definitely more to come…

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