This content is part of the Conference Coverage: KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2022 news coverage

Looking back on KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2022

With this year's KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America over, review vendor updates on topics ranging from cloud-native adoption to AIOps approaches and ease-of-use offerings.

At the Cloud Native Computing Foundation's flagship KubeCon + CloudNativeCon conference, held in Detroit from Oct. 24-28, 2022, the over 290 sponsors and almost 8,000 attendees who showed up in person said "yes."

CNCF executive director Priyanka Sharma kicked off the keynote with the new Humans of Cloud Native project. Highlights included the CNCF's growth, with its 176,362 contributors, over 1,000 maintainers and 7 million developers. The growth included an increase of 172 end users and 835 members, according to Sharma.

As I posted in my KubeCon EU blog in May, the cloud-native ecosystem continues to grow and this event along with it. I started this event by reviewing Cloud Native Wasm Day. Some say WebAssembly (Wasm) is the next evolution in a major shift in code development, and I am leaning toward agreement. But there is no misunderstanding that cloud-native adoption is on the rise. In fact, our Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) research indicates the following:

  • Nearly two-thirds of organizations said they expect more than half of their production applications to be based on a cloud-native microservices architecture within two years.
  • Developer-ready infrastructure was emphasized as very important or critical by nearly all respondents in our cloud-native research.
  • The cloud-native transition is dependent on iterative methodologies; most organizations use GitOps, DevOps and Agile software methodologies.

But concerns remain regarding IT skills gap challenges, implementation issues and the search for ease-of-use offerings. I went out with my colleagues Melinda Marks and Scott Sinclair to talk to vendors, looking to dive more deeply into these challenges.

Let's take a look at what vendors were saying and doing at the event:

  • Solo.io. Idit Levine, Solo.io founder and CEO, and Brian Gracely, vice president of product marketing and strategy, provided an update on the growth of Istio, now included in the CNCF, and how multi-cloud support is key to overall business success. The Envoy evolution to merge service meshes and API gateways is a demonstration of how cloud-native "1.0" is adapting to the new challenges of multicluster architectures and distributed clouds. Solo.io provides a tech learning stack, Solo Academy, that not only helps organizations learn multiple technologies to address these challenges but also enables developers to grow in their careers.
  • Cisco. The company's Emerging Tech group had a large presence at the event. The live demonstrations of Panoptica, Calisti and AppDynamics provided a view into application security, management and observability. I met with Sarabjeet Chugh, head of product-led growth, and discussed the importance of this vision to the developer community. In addition, I met with Grace Francisco, vice president of developer relations strategy and experience, and learned about the latest updates on Cisco's API-first approach; the strategy highlights container scanning, securing APIs on Kubernetes clusters and API policy enforcement as a SaaS-based approach.
  • Dell. Bob Ganley, senior marketing consultant, and Brad Maltz, senior director of DevOps portfolio and developer relations, provided an overview of Dell's presence at KubeCon. Dell's focus on a dev-ready infrastructure and an automated multi-cloud approach provides organizations the ability to scale to their app modernization goals. The Dell developer portal provides guidance and short tutorials to assist organizations in this journey. The application teams and xOps -- DevOps, DataOps and FinOps -- all play a major part in this journey.
  • MinIO. Chief marketing officer Jonathan Symonds highlighted the growth of MinIO in the developer community. With the recent milestone of 1 billion downloads, MinIO's goal is to continue to expand its footprint in the developer ecosystem.
  • Chronosphere. CEO Martin Mao spent some time highlighting why the organization's goal is to provide optimized ways to deliver day two operations across modern deployments. The company's AIOps approach provides visibility and insights into applications across the business ecosystem.
  • Docker. CEO Scott Johnston outlined the advancements in Docker's overall business direction. This included a focus on the build and release stages of containerized applications. Wasm was another focal point Johnson highlighted, as Docker anticipates this developer approach will grow in popularity.
  • PlanetScale and Vitess. Deepthi Sigireddi, software engineer, maintainer and tech lead at PlanetScale, discussed the features of Vitess as the building blocks of PlanetScale. The control plane provides insights and shows query details for faster, more affordable management. New features include enhancements to online schemas and provision of a Git workflow, grouping and the ability to postpone and throttle schema changes.
  • HashiCorp. Product marketing leader Ashher Syed briefed us on how the HashiCorp Consul service mesh and API gateway make Kubernetes environments more secure. It does this using HashiCorp Vault, which acts as a secure broker manager via open source, multi-tenancy support. Advantages of this approach include eliminating the need to recode or refactor and enabling app teams to work together more effectively.
  • DataCore. Mike Turnlund, head of field operations for containerized storage, described how using Open EBS and MayaData helps Kubernetes by taking away latency and providing additional stability and performance. This driverless approach is optimized through the Linux kernel.
  • D2iQ. CEO Tobi Knaup and his executive team briefed me on the enhancements to the D2iQ platform. CTO Deepak Goel highlighted deeper integration with the cloud, including insights focused around using AIOps and automation to eliminate misconfigurations, provide predictability and proactively flag errors in an aim to reduce costs across clusters. D2iQ also promises users the ability to expand to the cloud without retraining, said Dan Ciruli, vice president of product management.
  • SUSE. Keith Basil, general manager of SUSE's edge business unit, expanded on our discussions since KubeCon EU about SUSE Edge messaging to SLE and Rancher for orchestration. Growth at the edge is supported by ESG research, and SUSE's approach is to build on this growth. SUSE Edge 2.0 aims to deliver cloud-native edge management capabilities with security integrations across the full stack, from applications and Kubernetes to OSes.
  • Ondat. CTO Alex Chircop and chief product officer James Brown described ongoing advancements with the Ondat portfolio, including the community edition. One of the focal points is data locality integrated into Kubernetes, enabling enhanced portability. According to Ondat, apps are not often deployed where storage resides, and Ondat's offering provides the data where it needs to be. This SaaS offering supports multicluster environments and primarily focuses on performance workloads, benchmarks and consolidation.
  • StormForge. Senior vice president of marketing Amy Mollat-Medeiros and her team met and discussed the importance of automatic Kubernetes resource management at scale. This offering aims to improve efficiency and performance and optimize workloads.
  • Isovalent (Cilium/eBPF). Co-founder and CEO Dan Wendlandt updated me on how open source Cilium provides network load balancing inside Kubernetes as well as deeper levels of security. This includes adoption by major cloud providers for underlying service mesh. Cilium/Isovalent provides enhanced observability in addition to runtime security. There are different approaches to service mesh deployments, such as sidecar and sidecarless, so it will be interesting to see how this market evolves.
  • Red Hat. It was good to connect with Stu Miniman, director of market insights and cloud platforms. We discussed how OpenShift is providing a stable approach to orchestration and how MicroShift Red Hat, an experimental delivery of OpenShift Kubernetes optimized for the device edge, is a key area of focus. Enhanced insights across the Kubernetes control plane were discussed, as well as advanced cluster security as an area of growth.
  • VMware. Valentina Alaria, senior director of product management for Tanzu application performance, helped us understand the growth and focus for VMware in the developer community. Tanzu's current platform, combined with Aria, positions VMware to grow with the needs of both developers and organizations as they approach distributed and multi-cloud deployments.
  • Dynatrace. Alois Reitbauer, chief product officer and head of the open source program office and research, provided details on the Grail announcement and the AI engine's capabilities as well as tracing, with insights on using metrics and logging to mitigate security vulnerabilities. The automatic analysis provides guidance for day one and day two deployment. Dynatrace identifies and remediates problems, which helps reduce the size of teams and the number of people currently working on these business problems.
  • Cosmonic. CEO Liam Randall expanded on our discussion from KubeCon EU, highlighting Wasm updates and its soon-to-be-included development languages, such as Python, Java and .NET. This approach simplifies microservices at the edge. The adoption across the enterprise ecosystem is validating that WebAssembly is being adopted in more diverse product offerings.
  • Adobe. Engineering manager Sean Isom discussed how Adobe is using Wasm. He focused on the idea that whatever can be completed in the browser should be. Wasm is used at the client side to optimize UX in the cloud; Wasm on the back end increases performance and reduces costs, including total cost of ownership. According to Isom, Adobe uses a microservices architecture to scale up. Wasm eliminates cold startup time and provides centralized tooling in Rust. This environment supports a Kubernetes environment of more than 200 users on a shared infrastructure. WASI, a modular system interface for Wasm, and component modeling adoption across platforms are Adobe's vision for its internal ecosystem.
  • Fermyon Technologies. This vendor aims to provide a more effective way to deploy and manage cloud-native Wasm applications, according to CEO Matt Butcher and CTO Radu Matei. The goal is to reduce the complexity and cost of building cloud applications by offering a Wasm-based execution environment with an associated web interface.
  • Stacklet. Kapil Thangavelu, co-founder and CTO, and Umair Khan, director of marketing, provided insights on how Cloud Custodian expands the cloud to bring governance as code to Kubernetes and infrastructure as code. The focus is on shifting left and strengthening supply chain security in a managed SaaS-based offering. In addition, Stacklet provides policies out of the box. Stacklet is a member of the FinOps Foundation, which aims to provide cost and security guardrails while automating workflows in the cloud.
  • CloudCasa by Catalogic. Mike Miracle, chief strategy officer, and Sathya Sankaran, COO and general manager, reviewed company updates since KubeCon EU, including expansion across multi-cloud environments and the ability to more easily spin up clusters with full account integration. Additions include Google Cloud integration and Any2Cloud Recovery.
  • Hazelcast. Chief product officer Manish Devgan highlighted how the Hazelcast Platform 5.2 release helps customers create real-time actionable insights. The platform includes a tiered storage function that enables users to keep hot data in memory to increase throughput, reduce latency and maintain cold data in more cost-effective and operationally appropriate locations. I saw a demonstration of a cluster of 45 nodes and 720 virtual CPUs, reaching 1 billion events per second at a 99% latency of 26 milliseconds.
  • AtomicJar. Testing is an area that our research has shown many organizations are struggling with. Sergei Egorov, co-founder and CEO, and Eli Aleyner, co-founder, discussed how testing containers in a cloud-based offering can make developers more productive, the software they write more resilient and organizations more agile.
  • Smallstep. Michael Malone, founder and CEO, and Jonathan Stoikovitch, head of product, demonstrated the importance of certificate management toolchains for DevOps and site reliability engineers. Smallstep is a SaaS-based offering that provides account tiering, observability and audit management for certificates. This open source offering provides core certificate authority, and the commercial version also includes trigger alerts and enhanced support.
  • Mirantis. Shaun O'Meara, field CTO, and Michael Schmid, head of technology and founder of Amazee.io (recently acquired by Mirantis), discussed advancements in the portfolio, including bringing a cloud-like experience on premises. We discussed an issue in Kubernetes deployments that Mirantis exposes: an incompatibility between iptables version 1.8.8 and older versions in terms of how rules are formatted. Deployment issues can result if the host is using iptables version 1.8.8 and components like the Kube-router container network interface (CNI) to write their own network policy and rules with an older version of iptables. Kube-router ships with iptables version 1.8.7, which is something to be aware of and understand with your own deployments.
  • Spectro Cloud. CEO Tenry Fu, CTO and co-founder Saad Malik and their team announced capabilities from Palette 3.0 to manage existing clusters in varying degrees, from read-only monitoring to full import. The 'developer experience' idea is Palette Dev Engine, a feature set that includes access to Palette Virtual Clusters, along with the ability to model reusable App Profiles to deploy on Kubernetes quickly and easily. Palette Edge is about building immutable edge images, for visual management of clusters at scale, PXK-E hardened distribution. Nested Clusters were introduced and are named Palette Virtual Clusters; they are virtual clusters that sit within a host cluster much like a VM on a hypervisor. These are great for starting a new cluster for CI/CD pipeline purposes with isolation not just relying on namespaces alone and can be overprovisioned which improves utilization of host clusters. This approach shares the host cluster's management plane, so they are much lighter weight, therefore potentially lowering cost. 
  • Netmaker. Founder Alex Feiszli described how Netmaker automates virtual networks to bridge distributed infrastructures, such as edge, multi-cloud, hybrid cloud and IoT. Additionally, its mesh VPN could replace other networking hardware that businesses use and automate manual network configurations that often require weeks or months of engineering effort.
  • Canonical. Another follow-up from KubeCon EU was a meeting I had with David Booth, vice president of cloud-native apps and product operations, and Alex Jones, director of Kubernetes engineering. Ubuntu is top of mind for many developers, as it provides an approach that adheres to developers' goals. This includes features such as strict confinement, which isolates containers and is ideal for use cases like automotive, factory and IoT deployments. In addition, MicroK8s is a lightweight, production-ready Kubernetes distribution for smaller footprints. Canonical Juju was also discussed as a way to model, manage, deploy and scale cloud services.

The bigger truth about cloud-native developments

One common theme across the event was that the economy is top of mind for vendors and organizations. Cost control and management is a major focus. Another topic was ease of use to reduce complexity, as well as the need to hire highly skilled staff to meet business KPIs. Organizations are turning to vendors to provide fewer, more consolidated products that reduce complexity and to act as trusted advisors.

ESG is a division of TechTarget.

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