Photo by Jeffrey Milstein

Ubernetes, or "Kubernetes without the K," is nascent technology that could let companies distribute container clusters across regions and clouds.

By Barb Darrow
June 26, 2015

Many businesses are just wrapping their heads around the notion of containers. This technology, popularized by Docker, packages up software applications in a way that they can run efficiently on almost any Linux-based infrastructure, whether it’s in the cloud or on-premise. (Windows support is coming.)

And techies at those same companies probably already get the appeal of Kubernetes, a Google-backed project that lets developers schedule and deploy those containers as needed.

Now those techies may want to get up to speed on Ubernetes, a very young technology that will, in theory, let multiple Kubernetes clusters of containers share jobs even across clouds. Here’s a description of Ubernetes (Kubernetes without the K!) from Github, a site which lets developers share code and work on collaborative software projects.

Today, each Kubernetes cluster is a relatively self-contained unit, which typically runs in a single “on-premise” data centre or single availability zone of a cloud provider (Google’s GOOG GCE, Amazon’s AWS, etc).

Several current and potential Kubernetes users and customers have expressed a keen interest in tying together (“federating”) multiple clusters in some sensible way in order to enable the following kinds of use cases (intentionally vague):a new project thinks or it as meta kubernetes.for manageing container clusters across different environments

Kit Merker, product manager for Google’s various container projects, talked about Ubernetes a bit this week and explained that, for companies wanting to run some jobs on-premises, some on Amazon AMZN and some on Google Cloud Platform, for whatever reason, may eventually be able to use Ubernetes to give them a control plane across those different clusters.

A lot of work has to be done. First, Kubernetes itself is still young. Version 1.0 is due for a launch event July 21 at OSCON. “Google’s trying to take lessons learned and apply them to a general-purpose-infrastructure-for-everyone approach and we feel this was the best way to manage small independent clusters across different platforms,” said Patrick Reilly, CEO and founder of Kismatic, a company providing enterprise support for Docker and Kubernetes.

For large Fortune 500-like companies that don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket, the ability to chunk up applications between different cloud providers would be a big selling point. It could also help with geographic coverage; if your cloud provider doesn’t have a local presence in the region, you could assign that application to another local provider.

“Imagine a web site you want to run worldwide. You could take identical containers in terms of code and configuration and deploy them in multiple Kubernetes clusters and then make Ubernetes aware of them,” Merker said. “So you could wire up your cloud to your data center using virtual private networks and Ubernetes would now be aware of all those resources and provide a way (via an application programming interface) to let companies move workloads around or distribute applications across clouds.”

Of course, all of this is really in its early stages. One industry insider noted that if Ubernetes works as advertised, it could be a huge in terms of hybrid cloud, the scenario described above where companies spread their applications and data around multiple clouds. Much depends on how far along this technology is and what vendors will take it to market.

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