The growing interest in the KubeCon conference is not only a reflection of the importance of the industry’s leading container orchestration technology, Kubernetes, but also represents the need to stay abreast of leading open source software (OSS) technologies by global IT teams implementing app modernization projects, many of which have received executive directives to embrace OSS. For starters, migration of legacy applications can’t occur without the use of OSS for ensuring portability across disparate back-end systems and multiple cloud deployments.

OSS also represents by its nature a collaborative effort among various community members, in search of innovations which support new application architectures and address the inevitable operational and infrastructure complexities those entail.

The Covid-19 global pandemic only underscores the importance of OSS-based cloud platforms for their ability to effectively support new business models from work-from-home to enhancing the digital experience for customers and partners.

Such conferences are also important to provide DevOps teams with insights into how particular projects within CNCF and other organizations may be faring.

Controversial moves in OSS technologies

There’s a lot at stake among vendors that have significantly invested in solutions that are based on leading OSS technologies. Service mesh in particular is a good example and has of late become a contentious topic among leading cloud providers. Recent controversial moves among key players are likely to affect the success of leading standardized configurations. Such conversations continued during KubeCon.

IBM has been vocal over its disappointment in Google’s recent move to donate the Istio OSS project (jointly launched by Google, IBM, and Lyft over three years ago) to Google’s new Open Usage Commons group. IBM has been counting on the technology being donated to the mature and reputable CNCF group for garnering broader industry support and ensuring interest in IBM’s (and others) Iter8 service mesh and IBM Cloud services.

Microsoft enters the game

Adding to the confusion, just prior to KubeCon, Microsoft announced its own service mesh technology Open Service Mesh (OSM), along with plans to donate it to CNCF for consideration as a reference implementation of CNCF’s Service Mesh Interface (SMI). OSM serves as an alternative to Istio, Linkerd, and many other technologies, while strengthening Microsoft’s position in the highly competitive and crowded space.

Operations teams are looking for more effective ways of managing IT platforms and the modern applications they support, driven by various processes of digital transformations involving growing volumes of data.

Efforts to simplify and modernize enterprise IT footprints, via composable or hyperconverged infrastructure, pay-per-use consumption models, and managed solutions, are especially necessary due to distributed applications which extend to multiple edge locations and the cloud.

Rivalry in hybrid and multi-cloud solutions

IBM highlighted its latest multi-cloud brand, IBM Cloud Satellite, for expanding the footprint of IBM Cloud, Cloud Paks, and for extending Red Hat technologies to be delivered as-a-service.

IBM faces strong rivals in hybrid and multi-cloud solutions. Innovations among various players are geared towards supporting public, private, edge computing locations, and on-premises, as well as infrastructure technologies, advanced AI/ML and automation to manage and automate workload activities.

Vendor solutions include Google Anthos, AWS Outposts, Azure Arc, IBM/Red Hat OpenShift, and VMware Tanzu. All are aimed at providing enterprises with the unification of a common control plane from the public cloud across various locations, and simplifying the workload lifecycle management.

Kubernetes based platforms help fulfill hybrid cloud initiatives and serve as the foundation for high-value services such as AI and automation.

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