How the new CNCF co-chair is scaling up the Kubernetes community

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In the few years since it hit the mainstream market, the historically fast-growing open-source project Kubernetes — a container management platform — has become the de facto deployment platform in cloud-native computing with increasing enterprise adoption and industry approval with integration options from leaders like Amazon.com Inc., Google LLC, IBM Corp. and Red Hat Inc.

As the technology matures with the input of a rapidly growing open-source community, Kubernetes is expanding to serve a wider enterprise market — and foster even greater innovation throughout the tech ecosystem.

“Kubernetes is actually helping extract the infrastructure away and it runs anywhere, so I see a lot of people are deploying it everywhere — multicloud, hybrid, and even in edge,” said Janet Kuo (pictured), software engineer at Google.

After years of optimizing Kubernetes for the enterprise at Google, Kuo is now leveraging her experience with the open-source platform as the new co-chair of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s flagship conference, KubeCon.

Kuo spoke with at the John Furrier (@furrier), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, at theCUBE’s studio in Palo Alto, California.

This week, theCUBE spotlights Kuo in our Women in Tech feature.

A journey in open source

Kuo has been at the forefront of the Kubernetes movement since the technology’s inception, working at Google to improve its ease-of-use for early enterprise implementations. “Kubernetes [was] a very new concept before CNCF and before the first KubeCon. We worked very hard, and we got a lot of feedback from people,” Kuo said.

Prior to Kubernetes, Kuo hadn’t endeavored into the world of open source, but the concept of a customizable, community-developed technology quickly won her over. “Tim Hawkins, the principal engineer at Google, sold me [on] the idea of Kubernetes. We need to be open and let people choose the best technology for them, and I think Kubernetes is the future,” she said.

Her work with the platform and newfound interest in open source eventually motivated Kuo to submit a KubeCon talk and become more deeply involved CNCF. Since then, Kubernetes’ capacity for orchestration has grown, and an increasing number of the platform’s users are businesses taking advantage of its benefits. In her new role as KubeCon co-chair, Kuo hopes to maintain that sense of community as the technology’s impact scales.

“A recent CNCF survey [reported] that 40 percent of people who work in an enterprise run Kubernetes in production. That’s a huge number,” she said.

Integrating into the mainstream

In addition to its growing enterprise adoption numbers, Kubernetes expansion can also be measured by its integrations with other technologies. Many businesses are inventing new ways to use Kubernetes as the standard container orchestration model for cloud-native, as well as tailor its offerings to leverage the tool beyond the platform as the use cases for its benefits grow.

“A lot of people [are] customizing Kubernetes for their own needs, using [the] API to manage resources outside of Kubernetes. With that, you can have Kubernetes manage everything your infrastructure,” Kuo said.

The use of service meshes has emerged as a popular option for full infrastructure workload management, providing a flexible process for bridging disparate platforms when combined with Kubernetes deployment. “You can use service mesh to manage your service and secure them easily,” Kuo stated.

An integration with Amazon Web Services Inc. through Kubernetes’ custom resource capabilities enables more streamlined management and application development — and is also a clear indicator of the technology’s significance in the industry.

“You can register a custom API in Kubernetes and implement a controller to manage anything you want — different cloud resources, [virtual machines], even robots,” Kuo said.

One of the most significant movements in today’s market, artificial intelligence, is also enjoying a boost from the Kubernetes trend as the platform provides the agile foundation necessary to the processes in data-rich machine learning technologies.

“We’ve seen several talks on machine learning and AI submitted to both the Shanghai and Seattle [KubeCon] event,” Kuo said.

‘Kubernetes is the future’

Even with the platform’s rapidly increasing popularity, Kuo is working to maintain the community-centric, open-source focus of Kubernetes’ early days by curating talks based on their utility to the customer market.

“We want to make KubeCon still a community-focused conference, so we pick talks that [are] not just vendor or sales pitches, but ones that we think the community is going to benefit from,” she said.

This year’s KubeCon is formatted to distinctly highlight individual topics within the technology and comprehensively present all Kubernetes has to offer. “They’ll be a lot of different projects. They are presenting their own solutions [so] you can figure out which one fits you the best,” Kuo said.

In addition to technological innovations, CNCF is continuing its commitment to community-oriented development through diversity initiatives at KubeCon. Along with the ethical necessity of inclusion, a vast array of different perspectives are crucial to the continued success and utility of the Kubernetes platform as the tool’s influence widens.

“We have a diversity scholarship that covers the ticket and travel to the conference, and we have a diversity luncheon that will be sponsored by both Google and Heptio,” Kuo said.

As the still-developing technology continues to expand, its influence and importance to the ecosystem at large are only increasing. The foundational tool is key to the next generation of cloud, according to Kuo.

“Kubernetes allows you to easily adopt cloud, because it extracts the infrastructure level away and allows you to easily run your infrastructure anywhere. If you have Kubernetes, you have everything,” she concluded.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE Conversations.

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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Kylie Anderson is a SiliconANGLE writer covering live events with theCUBE. Her research and reporting has been featured in a number of publications, including Forbes, Slate, and The New York Times. Got news? Tweet us @siliconangle.


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