Dell Tech World 2019, yea, the days of actual in-person conferences, Michael Dell is on stage and during his keynote, he says “we are fully embracing Kubernetes”. My session is the next one where I explain our upcoming integration of storage arrays with the Kubernetes CSI (Container Storage Interface) API. Now, don’t get me wrong, CSI is awesome! But at the end of my session, I’m getting a lot of people coming to me and ask very similar questions, the theme was around ‘how do I still keeping track of what’s going to happen in the storage array’, you see, CSI doesn’t have role-based access to the storage array, not to even mention things like quota management. At a very high level, think about storage admins that want to embrace Kubernetes but are afraid to lose control of their storage arrays. If ‘CSI’ feels like a name of a TV show, I encourage you to stop here and go ahead and have some previous reads in my blog about it: Back to 2019. Post my session, I gathered a team of product managers and we started to think about upcoming customer’s needs, we didn’t have to use a crystal ball but rather, as the largest storage company in the world, started to interview customers about their upcoming needs re K8s. Now, let’s take a step back and discuss the emergence of cloud-native apps and Kubernetes In the past, companies would rely on Waterfall development and ITIL change management operational practices. This meant organizations had to plan for:

  • Long Development cycles before handing an application to ops
  • IT ops often resisting change and slow innovation

Now companies want to take advantage of a new development cycle called Agile along with DevOps operational practices. This new foundation for IT accelerates innovation through:

  • Rapid iteration and quick releases
  • Collaboration via involving the IT ops teams throughout the process

Operational practices aren’t the only evolving element in today’s enterprises; application architectures are quickly changing as well. For years, monolithic architectures were the standard for application architectures. These types of applications had great power and efficiency and run on virtual machines. However, these applications have proven costly to reconfigure, update, and take a long time to load. In cloud-native applications, components of the app are segmented into microservices, which are then bundled and deployed via containers. This container/microservice relationship allows cloud-native apps to be updated and scaled independently. To manage these containerized workloads, organizations use an open-source management platform called Kubernetes. To give a real-world example, imagine monolithic apps like a freight train – there is a lot of power and capacity but it takes a long time to load and is not easy to reconfigure. Whereas cloud-native apps function more like a fleet of delivery vehicles with reduced capacity but resilient and flexible in changing the payload or adapting capacity as needed. A fleet of delivery vehicles needs a conductor to schedule and coordinate the service, and that is the role that Kubernetes plays for containers in a cloud-native environment. Both approaches are present in today’s modern apps but the speed and flexibility of cloud-native apps shifting priorities everywhere. Let’s dig more into this shift in software development and delivery. Leading this shift is the use of microservices, which are loosely coupled components that are self-contained, highly available, and easily deployable, and with containers that provide these microservices with lightweight packages capable of resource utilization efficiencies, enable those microservices patterns. They provide a ‘build once, run anywhere flexibility with the scale that developers are embracing. Then came Kubernetes. Kubernetes is an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It has become the industry “go-to” for more service discovery, load balancing, storage orchestration. With agile development comes the need for speed and continuous delivery which, with the right tools and infrastructure can create the right business outcomes as demands increase. With the advent of flexible cloud-native applications; DevOps teams formed and created their own agile frameworks that in addition to increasing delivery of code with less dysfunction and overhead of traditional models whereby intentionally or unintentionally bypassing IT Operations’ best practices and the opportunity to build modern IT infrastructures to support their development initiatives, as well as enhance them.

As traditional models for software development evolve, so does the infrastructure that supports it. IT Operations’ best practices can be applied to these new models through the Enterprise level data management tools that Dell Technologies’ provides. DevOps teams require seamless, non-disruptive, and reliable mechanisms to continue to meet business demands with agility and scale. With Dell Technologies” broad portfolio designed for modern and flexible IT growth, customers can employ end-to-end storage, data protection, compute and open networking solutions that support accelerated container adoption. Developers can create and integrate modern applications by relying on accessible open-source integrated frameworks and tools across bare metal, virtual, and containerized platforms. Dell enables support for DevOps elasticity and real-time benefits for container and Kubernetes platforms’ applying best practices based on their own design and needs.

Dell Technologies aligns developers and IT operations, empowering them to design and operate cloud-native organizations while achieving business demands and increasing quality outputs. With the support of industry standards built on containers such as Containers’ storage interfaces, Plug-ins with container storage modules, PowerProtect data manager can Availability is the most important aspect of data that customers and different levels of business ultimately care about from about every angle; especially securely accessed data whether it be on-premises, in the cloud. Though developers seem to claim they understand Kubernetes inside and out, they miss out on features at the IT operations level that we can provide.  With a big portfolio such as ours, we must understand what maturity level the customer is in. For the storage administrator, they will defer using their PowerMax or VxRail; if they want to continue to purchase these products, they would appreciate built-in containers/Kubernetes support that is easy to onboard without disrupting their developers. At the application layer, you may be employing Kubernetes or OpenShift well into the software-defined journey and PowerFlex would be an optional choice. GitHub CSI downloads exceed 1million downloads. Kubernetes developers know nothing about storage except local storage servers and drives; whereby their operational partners care about resiliency, snapshot, restore, replication, compression, and security. With the variety of storage solutions, having CSI plug-ins and Container Storage Modules simplifies deployment choices, emphasis on applying operational best practices. Build :

  • Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) SIG contributor
  • Complete E2E integrated industry-standard APIs
  • Self-service CSI driver workflows
  • GitHub repository for developers
  • Partner integrations with VMware Tanzu, Red Hat OpenShift,  Google Anthos, Rancher, others
  • DevOps and IaC integration with Ansible, Terraform, Puppet, ServiceNow, vRO, Python, Powershell, etc.
  • Kubernetes Certified Service Provider (KCSP) Consultant Services

Automate & Manage:

  • Container storage modules (CSM)
    • Data replication across data centers
    • RBAC authorization
    • Observability
    • Resiliency (disaster recovery & avoidance)
  • Single platform, Kubernetes & application-aware data protection
  • Application consistent backups
    • MySQL, MongoDB, Cassandra, Postgres, etc.
  • Infrastructure Automation & Lifecycle Management
    • API driven software-defined infrastructure with automated lifecycle management
  • Policy-based protection
    • Replication, retention, tiering to S3-compatible object storage, SLA reporting
  • Provide in-cloud options for developers with support for AWS, Azure backup policies

Scale & Secure:

  • Provisioning and automating policies
  • Extract data value in real-time through open networking and server/compute
  • Deploy data protection backup and restores via PowerProtect Data Manager
  • Integrated Systems; VxBlock, VxRail, PowerFlex, Azure Stack 
  • Manage Kubernetes with PowerScale in multi-cloud environments
  • Accelerate with edge / bare metal via Kubespray / Streaming Data Platform (SDP) w/ Ready Stack for Red Hat OpenShift platforms
  • Obtain seamless security and secure critical data via CloudLink

Ok, let’s talk Kubernetes

Kubernetes is really starting to pick up, as you can see in the above graphs, by 2025, it is expected that up to 70% of the enterprises out there, will be using Kubernetes AND that, 54% will be deployed primarily in their production environments! Yep, that means, we are way beyond the ‘Kicking the tires’ phase. A few weeks ago, I talked with my manager about these trends which you can see below

BUT, it’s not all rosy, Kubernetes provides a lot of challenges, to name a few:
Lack of internal alignment…shadow IT results… which leads to a harder job for the IT admins with lack of visibility and monitoring, and meeting security and compliance requirements. Kubernetes also cannot automatically guarantee that resources are properly allocated between different workloads running in a cluster. To set that up, you need to set up resource quotas manually. The opportunity is to align developers and IT operations by empowering them to design and operate cloud-native organizations while achieving business demands and increasing quality outputs.

In the next post, I will share the ‘What’ are we releasing to tackle these challenges..

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