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Mirantis Kubernetes deployment buy ups DevOps platform ante

The Mirantis Lens IDE will integrate the Lagoon Kubernetes deployment project to provide a self-service DevOps platform alternative with no developer Kubernetes training required.

Mirantis acquired a startup this week that adds Kubernetes deployment to its Lens IDE without the need for developers or platform engineers to deal with Kubernetes directly.

The purveyor of Kubernetes-as-a-service offerings such as Mirantis Kubernetes Engine, based on its acquisition of Docker Enterprise IP in 2019, has acquired Amazee.io, a WebOps-as-a-service company based in Switzerland, for an undisclosed amount. The startup was founded by the creators of Lagoon, a Kubernetes deployment open source project that automatically builds Kubernetes clusters on public and private cloud infrastructure based on developers' Git commits, a practice also known as GitOps. Lagoon ties in with a broader trend among IT departments that have begun to create DevOps platforms with self-service interfaces for developers.

But Lagoon doesn't require developers or platform engineers to learn Kubernetes or manage repositories of YAML configuration files. Lagoon, which arose out of Amazee's founders' experiences in 2016 deploying Kubernetes to support a Drupal hosting service, automatically deploys container images and builds Kubernetes clusters in response to developers' pull requests in Git. It also keeps those clusters -- including access controls, data storage and database connections -- in sync with those pull requests when they are merged into main code branches and deployed to production.

Michael SchmidMichael Schmid

"Lagoon exists because I have friends who are now sitting in Kubernetes training that are telling me, 'I'm thinking about quitting my job now, because I don't want to do this,'" said Michael Schmid, co-founder and CTO at Amazee and co-creator of Lagoon. "I have friends who are asking me, 'Should I think about switching my job? I used to build applications, but now I need to think about storage.'"

DevOps platforms, including prepackaged vendor products such as VMware Tanzu Application Platform and Red Hat's OpenShift, can help enterprises with platform engineering skills in-house to create their own answer to this problem. But not every company has the skills to build a bespoke Kubernetes deployment interface for developers, said Adrian Ionel, co-founder and CEO of Mirantis.

Adrian IonelAdrian Ionel

"There's a class of businesses out there who should be 'ZeroOps' businesses -- they should not be spending any time at all on the operation, integration or selection of infrastructure, all the way up to the DevOps layer," Ionel said. "Instead, they should consume that as a service, powered by open source, delivered by Mirantis."

Lagoon exists because I have friends who are now sitting in Kubernetes training that are telling me, 'I'm thinking about quitting my job now, because I don't want to do this.'
Michael SchmidCo-founder and CTO, Amazee.io

Thirty-six staff members at Amazee.io will join Mirantis and its existing web application hosting business, which counts companies such as Smartsheet and Allianz among its customers, will remain a standalone unit within the combined companies. However, Amazee's co-founders will also integrate the project more deeply into the Mirantis Lens Kubernetes IDE and add more support for applications outside the project's original web application focus, including Python and multi-cluster Kubernetes apps.

Mirantis poised to pounce on vulnerable VMware

Mirantis still has an uphill battle ahead of it when it comes to competing with other large IT vendors that market DevOps platforms. Mirantis Kubernetes Engine, formerly Docker Enterprise, has gained about 100 customers since the acquisition, but Red Hat OpenShift under IBM now has more than 3,500 paying customers. It has hundreds of customers that use Red Hat OpenShift on AWS and Azure Red Hat OpenShift products, respectively.

Red Hat executives have begun to take a similar tack with OpenShift recently, pledging that the company's product strategy for the Kubernetes platform will be "SaaS-first." The company has begun offering more of its Kubernetes deployment tools, such as Ansible, in cloud provider SaaS marketplaces.

But while Red Hat's lead will be difficult for Mirantis to close -- and there is also a version of Lagoon created to support OpenShift specifically -- Mirantis may have its sights set on another newly vulnerable rival. VMware's Tanzu product line faces an uncertain future under Broadcom, said Rob Strechay, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget.

"There's high likelihood that Tanzu doesn't get the level of funding it used to get when it was VMware," Strechay said. "There's going to be pieces to be picked up."

The market is full of would-be OpenShift rivals with or without VMware; vendors from cloud hyperscalers to GitLab and Atlassian offer DevOps platforms as a service, and CI/CD platform vendors such as CloudBees and Harness also offer developer experience features for Kubernetes deployments.

But Mirantis Lens and Lagoon may be able to hold their own in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud support via open source frameworks, Strechay said. Here, both Mirantis and Amazee have institutional experience running managed services for customers.

"I think Mirantis can truly make it simple," Strechay said. "Organizations want infrastructure to be transparent, and unless you have size and scale, building out delivery platforms yourself is really tough."

Some enterprise IT pros that have started down the path of building DevOps platforms say there's no clear winner yet in the specific niche of Kubernetes deployment tools for application developers.

"One problem we're having in the industry right now is the Kubernetes ecosystem is so massive, it's hard to keep the breadth of different tech you are running [focused] into something small enough that a team or group of teams is able to run it," said Andy Domeier, senior director of technology for SPS Commerce, a Minneapolis-based communications network for supply chain and logistics businesses.

Domeier hasn't tried out Lagoon -- his company built its own developer self-service tools that connect with Azure Pipelines. But there's still plenty of opportunity for general improvement in that area of the industry, he said.

"At a glance, Lagoon looks like it's trying to solve very important problems that everyone has," Domeier said.

Beth Pariseau, senior news writer at TechTarget, is an award-winning veteran of IT journalism. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @PariseauTT.

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