Making Kubernetes Enterprise-Friendly
The public cloud is great but not in every situation, so it's crucial to ensure that modern applications work outside the cloud just as well as they do within.
That sums up the sentiments of Haseeb Budhani, co-founder and CEO of Rafay, which delivers enterprise Kubernetes management software as a service. Although many of Rafay's customers run their Kubernetes clusters in public clouds, an increasingly large portion do not. Rafay uses Equinix Metal to test and validate workloads for businesses seeking an infrastructure alternative to public cloud.
Here's the story of what Rafay offers, why Budhani feels it's important to give equal weight to the public cloud and to dedicated infrastructure and how Equinix Metal fits into Rafay’s strategy of ensuring that customers can run Kubernetes clusters reliably wherever they wish.
The Kubernetes Management Challenge
Kubernetes is a powerful platform, but it's also complicated. Enterprises tend to operate multi-cluster deployments, and Kubernetes’ native management tooling is not enough to operate and maintain those environments at scale.
This is where Rafay’s Kubernetes Operations Platform comes in: it’s a management platform for large-scale multi-cluster and multi-environment Kubernetes deployments used by multiple teams. It also enables monitoring, security policy enforcement, GitOps-based management and more.
It enables enterprises to take full advantage of Kubernetes without having to build out custom management tooling (hardly an efficient use of resources for most organizations). As Budhani puts it, "If you’re in the pizza business, you should focus on making pizzas, not on building out a Kubernetes management platform that you’ll end up operating for life." The same goes for financial services, healthcare, life sciences and arguably any industry. Companies can focus on their core business while using a turnkey Kubernetes ops and management solution, developed by a large group of engineers over a five-year period to address large orgs’ unique Kubernetes management challenges.
Thinking Beyond Public Cloud
Lots of enterprises use public cloud providers, and Rafay has native integrations for Kubernetes services by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). In fact, Rafay's SaaS offering is hosted in a public cloud.
But Budhani is "convinced there are a number of workloads out there that are better deployed elsewhere." To prove the point, he cites data from Rafay's own customer base, 30 percent of which is presently operating Kubernetes clusters in data centers or at the edge. That figure has grown significantly since the company was founded (almost five years ago), and Budhani expects it to climb as high as 50 percent in coming years, as more and more businesses choose to operate a hybrid footprint.
Those are the customers whose workloads Rafay tests and validates using Equinix’s bare metal service. These customers typically want to deploy Kubernetes using solutions like Amazon EKS Anywhere (EKS-A), the AWS service that supports clusters running on privately owned servers–which is at the center of a partnership between Equinix and AWS.
In addition to providing readily accessible infrastructure for Kubernetes environments outside the public cloud, Equinix Metal offers the benefit of sophisticated infrastructure management automation. The Equinix Metal API and bare-metal provisioning tools like Tinkerbell make it easy for Rafay to set up bare-metal hosting environments quickly. That results in faster validation and greater operational efficiency.
Budhani likes the support services that Equinix makes available to his team, too. "We pride ourselves on support, and Equinix Metal does too," he explains, adding that Rafay's engineers have access to a shared Slack channel where they can connect to Equinix Metal engineering experts on demand. "We love that we can instantly interact with our friends at Equinix Metal over Slack as needed," he says.
The cloud is not the only option
Most enterprises want to modernize their hosting stacks using container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, but not all can use the public cloud. Instead, many prefer a colocated, on-demand bare-metal server platform to benefit from the flexibility of outsourced hosting, while enjoying cost and control advantages that aren't available from conventional public cloud infrastructure.
"The cloud is not the only option," Budhani says. "The future is hybrid, and the colocated infrastructure option is a viable one for enterprises."
As that happens, Rafay is ready to simplify even the most complex enterprise Kubernetes deployments, no matter which infrastructure they operate on.
Published on06 February 2023
Interview byKatie Norchi
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