One of the common questions we are asked is 'Why are you making a Kubernetes platform? Can't I just get that directly from Google?' and although this is true - you can get amazing infrastructure from them - we believe that this isn't all you need to succeed when running Kubernetes in production. At nine we have years of experience working with containers and we know that there is much more complexity than simply dockerizing your application and writing the configuration. We also know that much of this complexity can distract you from your company’s real mission: delivering value to customers. This is why we decided to offer an opinionated Kubernetes solution, built on top of Google infrastructure.
Running Your Own Container Cluster: Time Consuming and Error-Prone
In the world of container orchestration your application's Kubernetes configuration is an integral part of ensuring that everything runs as expected. It is a non-trivial task to learn enough of Kubernetes to well configure your deployments, and you will have to do this if you want to succeed. Therefore the question we would ask is: what really brings you, and your customers, value?
We started asking ourselves this question after countless late nights upgrading software, fixing issues and chasing down bugs. We analysed that we spent ~80 hours a month maintaining the infrastructure and software that ran our multi-tenant Openshift cluster. This led us to the conclusion that all this work adds no value for our customers. If anything it caused them pain as outages affected multiple people and customers with sub-optimal configurations ended up with downtime (usually due to a lack of ReplicaSets, pod disruption budgets or rolling deploys).
Our Learning: Focus On Your Core Value
At nine our mission is that "By understanding our customers, we enable and support them to focus on their core business" and in light of this it is clear that by spending so much time on maintaining infrastructure we were not meeting this goal. Instead we were generating a huge amount of work in an area that customers did not see or feel, or if they did feel it, it was often to our mutual detriment.
So we asked ourselves how we could move up the stack to be closer to our customers, enable them to move faster and be more agile, to meet our mission and allow them to focus on their core business? We came to the conclusion that we want to have more time to work closely with our customers, and to allow them to also 'move up the stack.' Because do you really want to additionally think about running and configuring production grade monitoring, backup, ingress, cluster scaling, etc...? Do those concerns actually create value for our customers and their customers? The answer is obviously that they do not. This is why we developed our opinionated GKE solution.
Nine Managed GKE - An Opinionated Solution
When we say that our container platform solution is opinionated, we mean that rather than offer a selection of different tools that do the same or a similar job, we instead offer a carefully chosen toolset of industry standards and best-in-class solutions inside your cluster, whilst simultaneously allowing to take advantage of the wide variety of services in the Google cloud, such as cloudSQL, Apigee or ML. Our partnership with Google allows us to offer you a solution whatever your scale or requirements, and through exploratory sessions, workshops and architectural design meetings you get the best of both nine and Google's expertise in planning and implementing your solution design.
Nine managed GKE architecture. (Copyright: nine)
Our architecture ensures that our managed service layer never runs on your application nodes, so the full compute power of your compute nodes is available for your applications. We also place the highest priority on security and as such our engineers have no direct access to your cluster configuration, changes can only be in automation pipelines, which themselves only have short term token based access to your cluster. This means that every change to your cluster is audible, approved by the 4 eyes principle, tested, applied by automated processes and secure.
Nine Managed GKE product structure. (Copyright: nine)
Interested? Find more details on our GKE product page:
Our Kubernetes solution is continually evolving, so by the time you read this there may already be more features than shown in the graphic above (follow us on twitter to get the latest updates), but our goal is to continue providing the features that customers need to have a truly holistic development and deployment experience in the cloud. Expect more news about logging, deployments and other features soon.
Here you can find an overview of our GKE product. We look forward to hearing from you.
Questions regarding container technology?
Answers can be found in our white paper.