Kubecon 2023 Live from Chicago – Infrastructure Matters, Episode 20

Kubecon 2023 Live from Chicago - Infrastructure Matters, Episode 20

In this episode of Infrastructure Matters, recorded at KubeCon 2023 in Chicago, hosts Steven Dickens and Camberely Bates discuss the latest trends and announcements in the world of Kubernetes and cloud-native technologies. They delve into the growth in KubeCon attendance, the increasing adoption of Kubernetes in enterprise environments, and the focus on platform engineering. Their conversation includes insights into various vendor announcements, including NetApp’s Astra Control and Red Hat’s new features, as well as a broader discussion on the maturation of the Kubernetes ecosystem, emphasizing the importance of security, resilience, and complexity in modern IT infrastructure.

Key points from their discussion:

  • KubeCon showcases significant growth and increasing enterprise adoption of Kubernetes.
  • Vendors like NetApp and Red Hat announce new features and capabilities.
  • Observability and security emerge as key themes in Kubernetes ecosystem development.
  • The shift towards curated and opinionated Kubernetes stacks for easier management and better security.

You can watch the video of our conversation below, and be sure to visit our YouTube Channel and subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Listen to the audio here:

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Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this webcast. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this webcast.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.


Steven Dickens: Hello and welcome to another episode of Infrastructure Matters. And we’re live at KubeCon. I’m joined by my fantastic co-host, Camberely Bates. Hey, Camberely. Welcome to the show.

Camberely Bates: Are you brain-dead yet from this last two days?

Steven Dickens: I am. I’m running on fumes. You look better with it than I do, but it’s been action-packed.

Camberely Bates: It has been big.

Steven Dickens: What are they, 10,000 people?

Camberely Bates: I didn’t ask the question, but yeah, I feel-

Steven Dickens: That’s what I’ve heard.

Camberely Bates: Is that what you heard? I haven’t asked the question, which is-

Steven Dickens: Smaller than Amsterdam, but still huge, I think.

Camberely Bates: But we knew that. I think Detroit last year was six, maybe.

Steven Dickens: So they’re trending up, for sure.

Camberely Bates: Well, it was Detroit versus Chicago might be part of that. I don’t think so, though.

Steven Dickens: I’m not going to go there.

Camberely Bates: You’re not going to go there? Okay, sorry, Detroit.

Steven Dickens: I’m not going to go there.

Camberely Bates: I didn’t mean… I apologize to them. Yeah, so you guys that are tuning in, before we get here, the guys that run the analyst relationships with KubeCon and CNCF sent us a long email with all the announcements, pages and pages of the announcements that came out today, or the last two days.

Steven Dickens: Yeah. Every vendor’s been hitting it hard. I’ve got multiple research notes coming out. There’s ones on Red Hat that I’ve put together. We’ve got stuff coming out on SUSE. There’s just been a lot.

Camberely Bates: A whole bunch. So a couple of them that I’m going to highlight here, and I have notes here, guys, because there’s no way that I can remember all of this stuff going on. NetApp Astra control, immutable backups. And also, one of the things they’ve done is enable something called, this is how techy this place is, guys, it’s on-tap qtrees, which is basically, when you have a large number of persistent volumes, you’re going to run out of space. So this is their way of accommodating to that. Another big one was from Red Hat.

Steven Dickens: Well, let’s just stay on NetApp before we jump vendor. We had a really fantastic briefing on the observability stuff.

Camberely Bates: Yes.

Steven Dickens: I thought Miles did a great job. Really fantastic. What were your takeaways from that? What did you see?

Camberely Bates: Well, this is something I’ve been talking to other people about is that there’s a lot of observability offerings on the floor.

Steven Dickens: I think I had five briefings yesterday on observability alone.

Camberely Bates: Can you tell them apart?

Steven Dickens: They were merging by the end of the day, I give myself that.

Camberely Bates: I know, the brain meld.

Steven Dickens: The guys from Senser stood out for me with eBPF. That was an interesting smaller series B. But I think from an overall observability space, all starting to trend towards the same space. The ServiceNow briefing I had, obviously a slightly different angle from a service impact point of view, that aligns with where they are. But we’ve been briefed by Dynatrace. We’ve had Datadog. I also spent some time on the elastic booth. But I think Miles did a great job going back to NetApp at the end of the day. He had kind of the worst time slot we were with him. What was it, 5:30 yesterday evening?

Camberely Bates: Mm-hmm.

Steven Dickens: But he did a fantastic job.

Camberely Bates: So taking another branch on this one to build on that, what we’re seeing here, and to me the big message here is we are definitely over the chasm from Kubernetes adoption and the enterprise.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, for sure.

Camberely Bates: We passed that someplace this year. Last year, we saw the upcoming of platform engineers, and that’s even more taken up this year.

Steven Dickens: And we’re going to deep dive on that.

Camberely Bates: Right. But this on observability is part of that piece of it.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, definitely.

Camberely Bates: Is those guys coming into play.

Steven Dickens: Definitely.

Camberely Bates: So let me go into some of the others. Red Hat, you now have… Okay, so what you would expect, they now have capabilities of their VM capability being supported on Rosa, which is their offering that’s up in the cloud. The other thing they rolled out in GA is their MicroShift, which is the K3s at the edge kind of device.

Steven Dickens: I’ve got a research note, we’ll put that in the show notes on that.

Camberely Bates: Great. Okay. Veeam brought out… And so, of course, you guys know from me it’s a lot of data stuff. Veeam brought out their ransomware protection and some integration with Datadog, which is for the logs sense, the observability and that kind of stuff.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, makes sense.

Camberely Bates: They also announced some areas around that they’ve continued this March on the federal capabilities, which is they’ve got the s-bomb going on, which is the software bill of materials kind of stuff that they had to release and that kind of thing. Dell announced last week the GA of their Apex cloud platform for Red Hat, which is a big deal. So we’re seeing quite a few companies having these platforms that are running Red Hat OpenShift. That’s part of what we’re going to talk about in the platform engineering piece of it. So KubeCon or CNCF focus on their projects out there. There’s multiple ones that graduated this year. Two of them that I think are really important for our audience is Istio, which is the service mesh people, well-known in the market. The other one that got launched is Kata, which is orchestration kind of work. Also, Argo came out, which that was last year, so I don’t need to highlight that one. But anyway, so those are some of the things that were happening.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, I got to spend some time walking around where the projects are hosted on the floor. There’s a real buzz there, I think. I just spent an hour just walking up and down those three or four aisles. Small booths, really excited community-type support. I think the CNCF do a good job. You’ve got the big vendors, you’ve got IBM, you’ve got VMware, you’ve got NetApp. But I think there’s still a community feel to this. I spent some time with CAST AI and with Senser, they’ve just made series B funding rounds and they announced those this week. So I think you’ve got everything from open-source projects. You’ve got sort of series A, series B type companies, right up to some of the bigger players, the IBMs, the Red Hats, the VMwares, the NetApps. So there’s a real… I’m enjoying these shows. I think we’re starting to see the overall space mature, but there’s still a community feel to it.

Camberely Bates: It reminds me of VMworld 10 years ago or more.

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Camberely Bates: Because VMware was just coming up where this thing called server virtualization was just ticking off and there was no real support around anything else. But then the community or different software offerings started coming out. And frankly, that’s where Veeam came from, right?

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Camberely Bates: They latched themselves onto there and there’s a bunch of other folks that have come in there. And that became a conference. That was the conference you needed to be at.

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Camberely Bates: KubeCon is getting there.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, it’s feeling like, for sure.

Camberely Bates: I mean, AWS is where everybody shows up to reinvent. But KubeCon is definitely becoming a place where, if you’re into infrastructure systems and then developer kind of thing, this is where you show up.

Steven Dickens: So you and I have done a whole bunch of briefings. I haven’t looked in my calendar, but I’m probably 12, 15 over the last couple of days. What have been the things that have come away from you? Maybe vendor-specific, but also just broader themes.

Camberely Bates: So, the big-

Steven Dickens: We’ll get back to platform engineering, but what are some of those other themes?

Camberely Bates: Well, that’s where I’m going to get to is that platform engineering piece of it because the big theme coming out of here is we’re getting to the place, and that’s where I was talking about is getting over the chasm, getting to a maturity level, and the three big things, resiliency, security and complexity. So things are too complex.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, for sure.

Camberely Bates: And if you have 175 projects, you’re trying to put these all together, how do you select what you have? So you’re seeing people migrate to stacks. And so people like OpenShift become more a managed environment. Rancher is an area that’s kind of curated. You also have Nutanix shipping theirs, you have Dell shipping theirs, and IBM Fusion shipping theirs and just starting to get their fusion product out. So all these companies have got these stacks there, and part of that is trying to address some of these issues with the complexity, but it’s got to be more than that. That’s not enough.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, it’s interesting. I think the two words, and I tweeted it earlier on in the week, opinionated and curated.

Camberely Bates: Yes.

Steven Dickens: We’ve been in a few briefings together, those have been common themes for me throughout all of the discussions. People have been looking at this, and whilst the Kubernetes space, you can do everything. You can get code from everywhere and you can deploy all this stuff. I think enterprises are now at the stage of, “Okay, this has gone from being a lab project. I’m now starting to put a production workload on this.” The non-functional requirements, we were in a conversation with IBM and those non-functional requirements, performance, availability, scalability, security, focused on operations, focused on FinOps. They had a really good meeting with us. I’ve mentioned the CAST guys around kind of tuning Kubernetes clusters from a cost perspective. We’ve got the trains going by. We’re in Chicago, it’s kind of trains everywhere. So we’ll just keep rolling. But I mean, I think for me it was just the case of we’re starting to see this place mature. I had spent some time with Peter Smails, who runs the container-

Camberely Bates: I was going to say, Rancher.

Steven Dickens: Thank you.

Camberely Bates: There we go. Spit it out.

Steven Dickens: Help me out. Help me out. It’s been a long few days. But no, I mean, we talked about just this whole space maturing. I think there’s a whole… The grownups are starting to get in the room. So whilst there’s some spiky hair and different hair colors and big earrings and lots of different T-shirts, we’re starting to see this whole space start to mature. And I mean, that brings us onto our main topic, platform engineering. Maybe just frame that up for the watchers and listeners, just to get us started.

Camberely Bates: So we’ve always had this thing called DevOps. And before, recently, dev and ops were one thing, and somebody within the development team usually took some sort of an operation position. And then at some point in time, those ops people kind of started spinning off a little bit and just focusing on just the operations of the piece of it. And that was probably two years ago when we saw that where that was when I was hosting some panels and talking about where we’re going with that. We’re now at the place where you have this platform engineering showing up where we had that big conversation in Detroit. It was about platform engineering. And Google was scratching their head, well, they weren’t scratching their head, but they were going, “Guys, we’ve been doing this forever.”

Steven Dickens: Yeah. With their SRE teams.

Camberely Bates: Well, they invented the Kubernetes, so they’ve been doing platform engineering all along. So for some reason, DevOps was doing it with theirs, because it is kind of like a long time ago when people got PCs, it was kind of like the back office or the individuals having their own computers. And so they’re having free-for-all kind of thing. So now we’re going to the point that you’ve got applications that’re coming to the point that they’re mature and we’re maturing to the point that you have to have resiliency. And security, which is another issue.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, I mean, that’s been the key theme. I mean, as I’ve got all these observability briefings, it’s been coming through pipeline security. I mean, the big theme has been post-SolarWinds pipeline security. So where you were talking about the dev piece, ensuring that CICD pipeline security. Can I make sure that I can attest state all the coders it comes through? Can I observe all of these platforms? I met with a vendor today going right down to the developer laptop from a security perspective. Because that’s where it starts, that’s where they’re downloading the code onto their laptop, doing the pulls from GitHub and various things to kind of build that out. So I think it’s fascinating for me, I mean, I kind of equate the whole platform engineering movement with just this space maturing. Do you see the same?

Camberely Bates: Yeah. Actually, Chris Weiberg, who is with Veritas, keynoted noted today, and Veritas is sponsoring. Somebody was going, “Why is Veritas sponsoring?” Well, it’s because of this kind of thing.

Steven Dickens: Got to be able to back it up, right?

Camberely Bates: Well, it’s not just backing up. It’s more the resiliency is what they’re really focused on, the resiliency and high availability. But part of the thing you look at is he mentioned, just saying, “We are very last year. Linux Foundation was part and parcel working with the Biden administration on this open-source code problem. And what does software bill of materials really mean?”

Steven Dickens: The supply chain.

Camberely Bates: Supply chain, the whole nine yards. So one of the things that Chris was talking about is Kubernetes being open source is prime for, or any of the open source products, are prime for being busted into and then shifting to another place within the data center. And then, all of a sudden, as you said, you’ve got a big problem. You’ve got open doors going on and there is concern about that. So that’s why we’re having all these disciplines putting around this is because, if you didn’t see it, I don’t know if you saw the SEC basically telling SolarWinds executives where…

Steven Dickens: Yeah, you’ve got to start to declare those. I saw that come across-

Camberely Bates: Well, no, no, no, no, they’re prosecuting them for a crime.

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Camberely Bates: I mean, the SEC thing. I mean, that’s-

Steven Dickens: I saw the SEC piece around they’re going to make executives responsible for… I hadn’t seen the SolarWinds piece.

Camberely Bates: Yeah, it’s frightening. I mean, if you read that press release, it’s frightening. And any CEO, any CISO, any CIO needs to be… Because when they got the emails and that kind of stuff, yeah, these people knew that there were exposures.

Steven Dickens: We don’t need more fear, uncertainty and doubt, but I think we’re going to get some.

Camberely Bates: No. So now you’re saying, “Okay, so let’s put the security on here, especially since it’s open source, that we have an understanding about where this is, where it’s coming from, the trust situation that we have.”

Steven Dickens: Well, I think I’ve certainly taken away that this space is thinking about it. They’re starting to deploy. We’ve now got fire engines going past.

Camberely Bates: It’s Chicago. There we go.

Steven Dickens: You can tell we’re filming in the Windy City, right? You’re going to love this. The sound guy’s just off camera here going insane, but we’ll just keep rolling through it. But no, I mean, I think we’re talking about security and the police are going to turn up. But no, I mean, all seriousness, I think we’ve been both in this space for long enough. My first LinuxCon was 2015. If you look at where this space is, it’s matured massively. I think we’re still not all the way there.

Camberely Bates: No.

Steven Dickens: But I think, directionally, I’m starting to see this space be primetime now for mission-critical applications. And whilst we’ve seen some of these at scale, I think it’s now written to get into the point of enterprise adoption. Would you agree?

Camberely Bates: Yeah. And you’re starting to listen to some of the people, I mean, there’s some companies that are completely built on this open source commitment. If you looked at some of these big companies that have sponsored or are part of the sponsorships of CNCF today, Discover’s on this stage, Intuit’s on this stage.

Steven Dickens: They were on the show floor, Discover. They’ve got their own booth.

Camberely Bates: Boeing has been here. Yeah. And part of that, somebody was saying, “Well, why would they even have their own booth here? What’s the purpose of these people being here?” And I was trying to explain to them, you have a fairly sizable community that’s part of CNCF. They are vested in open source. They have built their environment and their development on open source. So if you’re going to be part of this community, you can’t just use.

Steven Dickens: You’ve got to show up and you’ve got to contribute.

Camberely Bates: You show up and you’ve got to contribute. So you look at-

Steven Dickens: And it’s a great recruiting environment. They’re trying to get skilled engineers, it’s 10,000 of them walking round. They’re going to see Discover contributing, giving back, putting marketing dollars, putting dollars into the community. And they’re going to go, “Hey, I’m going to work for these guys.”

Camberely Bates: Right. And well, Spotify, this year, is the biggest contributor because they’ve dumped a whole bunch of stuff into contribution and development.

Steven Dickens: So it’s not just the vendors, it’s the end users, as well.

Camberely Bates: Yeah. And then when you see Oracle showing up-

Steven Dickens: You can tell it’s real.

Camberely Bates: … now you know it’s real.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, I had exactly the same… I’m walking through the booths, I’m like, “Okay, this got real.” I mean, Oracle’s got some bonafides in open source, to their credit, with what they’ve been doing.

Camberely Bates: Java.

Steven Dickens: With what they’ve been doing with Java, what they’ve been doing with Oracle Autonomous Linux. Yeah. So they’ve got some bonafides, but as you say, when they’ve got a booth, you’re like, “Ah, this is real.”

Camberely Bates: Yeah. Larry Ellison has not exactly known for giving things away.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, for sure. Well, it’s been fantastic to film in person. This has been an episode of Infrastructure Matters. Please check the research notes and the show notes below, and we’ll see you next time. Thank you very much for watching.

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Author Information

Regarded as a luminary at the intersection of technology and business transformation, Steven Dickens is the Vice President and Practice Leader for Hybrid Cloud, Infrastructure, and Operations at The Futurum Group. With a distinguished track record as a Forbes contributor and a ranking among the Top 10 Analysts by ARInsights, Steven's unique vantage point enables him to chart the nexus between emergent technologies and disruptive innovation, offering unparalleled insights for global enterprises.

Steven's expertise spans a broad spectrum of technologies that drive modern enterprises. Notable among these are open source, hybrid cloud, mission-critical infrastructure, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and FinTech innovation. His work is foundational in aligning the strategic imperatives of C-suite executives with the practical needs of end users and technology practitioners, serving as a catalyst for optimizing the return on technology investments.

Over the years, Steven has been an integral part of industry behemoths including Broadcom, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and IBM. His exceptional ability to pioneer multi-hundred-million-dollar products and to lead global sales teams with revenues in the same echelon has consistently demonstrated his capability for high-impact leadership.

Steven serves as a thought leader in various technology consortiums. He was a founding board member and former Chairperson of the Open Mainframe Project, under the aegis of the Linux Foundation. His role as a Board Advisor continues to shape the advocacy for open source implementations of mainframe technologies.

Camberley brings over 25 years of executive experience leading sales and marketing teams at Fortune 500 firms. Before joining The Futurum Group, she led the Evaluator Group, an information technology analyst firm as Managing Director.

Her career has spanned all elements of sales and marketing including a 360-degree view of addressing challenges and delivering solutions was achieved from crossing the boundary of sales and channel engagement with large enterprise vendors and her own 100-person IT services firm.

Camberley has provided Global 250 startups with go-to-market strategies, creating a new market category “MAID” as Vice President of Marketing at COPAN and led a worldwide marketing team including channels as a VP at VERITAS. At GE Access, a $2B distribution company, she served as VP of a new division and succeeded in growing the company from $14 to $500 million and built a successful 100-person IT services firm. Camberley began her career at IBM in sales and management.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business from California State University – Long Beach and executive certificates from Wellesley and Wharton School of Business.


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