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IBM, VMware ease Kubernetes complexity with Kabanero, Octant

Tools from IBM and VMware help developers build apps that are deployed on Kubernetes clusters, as well as handle complex Kubernetes workloads.

IBM and VMware have expanded their toolboxes to help developers deal with Kubernetes complexity, and better understand how code moves through clusters.

Big Blue has been on a mission to empower developers with tools that lower the barrier to entry for developers in enterprises that move to the cloud. At the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) this summer, IBM introduced Kabanero and other tools that enable developers to create apps that are ready to be deployed onto Kubernetes without first becoming experts in containers and Kubernetes.

The open source software (OSS) project is an upstream distribution of IBM Cloud Paks, which the company introduced earlier this month as part of the cloud-native transformation of its software and its integration with Red Hat. Kabanero provides prebuilt deployments to Kubernetes and Knative, based on best practices conceived while working with clients, said Nate Ziemann, a senior product manager at IBM Cloud. These shortcuts help developers spend more time developing scalable applications and less time understanding infrastructure, he said.

Kabanero goes beyond helping IBM onramp users into its Cloud Paks commercial offering, said Charlotte Dunlap, an analyst at GlobalData in Santa Cruz, Calif.

"[Kabanero] provides developers with Kubernetes-based best practices around a curated set of OSS projects such as Spring, Node.js and Swift, and operations teams with deeper pipeline and app lifecycle management OSS technologies and services, both of which aim to help get DevOps teams up and running quickly," she said.

Trio of IBM tools zero in on Kubernetes complexity

To its credit, VMware isn't taking Kubernetes lying down. They've been very proactive in adapting to what their customers need and [for what they] are asking.
Charles KingAnalyst, Pund-IT

In addition to Kabanero, IBM also introduced other open source projects to ease the way for developers building apps for Kubernetes deployments.

Codewind allows developers to work in containers without even knowing they are using containers. It provides extensions to popular IDEs such as Visual Studio Code, Eclipse and Eclipse Che so developers can use their preferred IDE to build applications in containers. The tool enables developers to rapidly iterate, debug and test app performance inside containers.

Meanwhile, Appsody simplifies the creation of cloud-native applications in containers with preconfigured stacks and templates for popular open source runtimes and frameworks.

Codewind UI
Screenshot of Codewind UI. Developers can create and import cloud-native applications such as Node.js, Java and Swift and automatically generates and builds them into local containers.

Kabanero and Appsody will use Codewind to provide an integrated IDE experience. And both Codewind and Appsody work with IBM's recently released Razee, which provides multicluster continuous delivery tooling for Kubernetes and focuses on management of Kubernetes at scale. This set of tools will help developers move applications through development, test and production Kubernetes clusters.

Kubernetes is the industry standard orchestration technology for containers, but opens up a world of complexity to enterprises that want to adopt and use containers, particularly to react to failures in an organized way and figure out all the different resource types available to deploy on Kubernetes, Ziemann said. Building cloud-native apps for Kubernetes, and using DevOps practices, exposes more infrastructure decisions that require a developer to understand, learn and develop, such as security and network ingress. Kabanero and the other tools help developers and architects and operations work together better, he added.

Codewind UI, showing application monitoring statistics.
Screenshot of Codewind UI, with application monitoring statistics relevant to run microservices, as well as the ability to generate performance test load for microservices, and identify hot methods and potential application bottlenecks.

VMware Octant peers through Kubernetes complexity

Meanwhile, VMware is approaching Kubernetes complexity down the line with Octant, a developer-centric web interface for Kubernetes that enables developers to inspect a Kubernetes cluster where applications reside.

Octant was born out of the idea that those not well-versed in Kubernetes struggle to understand why deployed workloads don't work correctly. At its core, the tool understands implicit and explicit relationships between Kubernetes objects and if they are working correctly, said Bryan Liles, the VMware senior staff engineer who led the Octant project. It includes a dashboard to give more context, and plugins to graphs or custom resources to add information to cluster views, such as more details for objects that aren't in Kubernetes core or have special rules or circumstances.

VMware Octant UI
VMware Octant UI, showing a healthy Kubernetes deployment.

Moreover, Octant is extensible, as there are different ways to manage a Kubernetes cluster. Octant enables developers to integrate ecosystems of tools to create and manage objects, provide observability, and work with CI/CD tools into one convenient browser-based interface, Liles said in a blog post.

"To its credit, VMware isn't taking Kubernetes lying down," said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT in Hayward, Calif. "They've been very proactive in adapting to what their customers need and [for what they] are asking."

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