Surprise! Google gang backs Google’s take on container orchestration

Courtesy of Google

Google’s gotten busy on the organizational front, at least when it comes to promoting its Kubernetes container orchestration worldview for use everywhere.

On Tuesday, Google(GOOG) with nearly two dozen tech companies, including AT&T, Box, Cisco, the Cloud Foundry Foundation, CoreOS, Docker, eBay, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Mesosphere, Red Hat, Twitter, and VMware launched the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

Conspicuously absent from that lineup are public cloud leader Amazon(AMZN) and Microsoft(MSFT).

The foundation news coincides with the 1.0 release of Kubernetes, to be announced at the OSCON Conference in Portland, Oregon this week.

Kubernetes is Google’s way of dynamically scheduling lots and lots of application containers on a huge scale. With the foundation, Google and its new best friends say they want to apply that model to enterprises that may be very large compared to everything except say Google, Facebook, or Amazon Web Services.

AWS last year announced its own container management services, which has nothing to do with Kubernetes, but seeing as how AWS is the largest public cloud provider (by far), one could view Google’s effort here as a way to ensure that its container management model is propagated.

In an interview in advance of the news, Craig McLuckie, the Google product manager leading this charge, told Fortune: “We don’t want a solution that only works with public cloud, we want no sense of lock-in.”

That’s a key statement coming from Google. The Internet search-and-ad giant fields its own public cloud that competes with AWS but is also trying to push its way into hybrid cloud environments, where companies keep some data and applications running on private resources, while putting others on shareable public cloud infrastructure.

If Google can convince big financial services, pharmaceutical and other companies that Kubernetes is the best way to run their own containers on premises, in a private cloud, and in public cloud, Google will have established an important toe hold in the enterprise workloads also targeted by AWS and Microsoft and, well face, it every other cloud provider on the planet.

With the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Google wants to “bring our model to the world,” said McLuckie. Interestingly, for a foundation that is all about entrenching Kubernetes as an open-source standard for container management, the word “Kubernetes” is not mentioned in the body of the press release once, except in the vendor-supplied quotes at the bottom.

The use of containers is seen as an efficient alternative to the virtual machine approach. It is especially useful for time-sensitive compute-intensive tasks, said Jason Stowe, CEO of Cycle Computing, another foundation member.

“Container technology gives you a virtual machine without the boot-up time. So you can have different apps with different requirements all running inside a container in seconds vs. booting up different VMS which takes longer.

“Kubernetes combined with Docker enables the microwave for computation—you no longer have to wait 45 minutes for your casserole,” he said.

That’s particularly important for big financial analysis computations where the difference between getting an answer in seconds rather than minutes can be hugely expensive, he said.

The news of this foundation comes just a week after Google joined the OpenStack Foundation to ensure that Kubernetes works well in OpenStack environments. Some see the two foundations as being increasingly at odds. The combination of Docker containers plus a viable dynamic scheduling service obviates the need for some of the basic infrastructure that OpenStack provides, they say.

Others contend that while the promise of managed containers is real it’s still very early in the game and there is no guarantee that all, or even a majority of applications, will all go the container route.

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