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Heptio CEO Craig McLuckie

As part of its mission to increase adoption of Kubernetes, the white-hot container orchestration product, Seattle’s Heptio has released two new open-source projects that make it easier to run Kubernetes and might inspire some of those users to sign up for Heptio support contract.

The new projects, Ark and Sonobuoy, make it easier to run Kubernetes clusters in production environments by giving users new options for disaster recovery and version tracking, said Craig McLuckie, CEO of Heptio and one of the co-developers (along with Heptio CTO Joe Beda and Microsoft’s Brendan Burns) of the original Kubernetes project. Just as Docker captivated the enterprise computing world by making containers easier to use in software development, Kubernetes is emerging as a de-facto standard for managing and deploying clusters of containerized applications, thanks in part to its origins inside Google’s immense container-based software infrastructure.

But the knock on Kubernetes is that it’s too hard to get started using the project, something McLuckie called a “zero-to-ten-miles-per-hour” problem in an interview earlier this year. Sonobuoy helps address that problem by giving users a simple way to make sure all of their Kubernetes clusters are running the same version of the software, which can prevent later problems caused by deploying apps to a new cluster running a tweaked version.

Ark is a little different. That project is designed more for users who are moving Kubernetes into production environments where they need quality disaster recovery options should something go terribly wrong. Kubernetes is designed to route around outages within clusters, but if something bigger happens that takes out entire clusters — like a power failure at your cloud provider — users have to rebuild those clusters by hand, and that’s a painstaking exercise, McLuckie said.

So, “what we’ve effectively created is a cluster Xerox machine,” he said. Just as Noah’s Ark allowed the world’s animal population to start over after the great flood (or so the tale goes) Ark allows Kubernetes users to easily redeploy a cluster, and that’s something enterprise customers in complicated environments demand before embracing something new at the center of their workflows.

Ark has another benefit: if you want to test how certain changes might affect your production environment without screwing everything up, you can create a exact version of that cluster on a test server with Ark and see what happens without compromising the entire system, McLuckie said.

It’s still unclear exactly how many people are using Kubernetes to manage their containerized environments, but it is clearly having an impact on the industry, as shown by Microsoft’s recent decision to join the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which oversees Kubernetes. That leaves only Amazon Web Services without a formal relationship with the project, although it does allow customers to run Kubernetes on AWS.

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