Kubernetes is the cornerstone of the cloud. It’s the most popular container management technology across all platforms. There are many factors that contributed to the popularity of Kubernetes.

Technology excellence: Kubernetes is not yet another ‘let’s see if this works’ project. It’s kind of an open source implementation of the Google Borg system, the technology that Google uses to manage its own services. Some of the core contributors to Kubernetes include engineers who worked on Borg. That made Kubernetes one of the most advanced, modern and mature orchestration technologies, leaping over veterans like Apache Mesos that have been around for almost a decade now.

Open Source done right: The second factor behind the success of Kubernetes is the way it’s governed. Google open sourced the technology and donated it to the Linux Foundation under the newly created Collaborative project called Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Instead of controlling the technology, Google helped in creating a community around it.


What’s unique about Kubernetes is that you can see Google all over it, in terms of quality of code and concept of orchestration. At the same time you also see the absence of Google when it comes to controlling or dictating the direction of the project. That’s a great example of how the open source community should work. As a result of this openness, CNCF Platinum members include Google rivals in the cloud space such as Microsoft and now Amazon. Companies are betting on Kubernetes as it has earned their trust and confidence as a fully community driven, and not a company controlled, open source project.

Anyone but Amazon club

Despite the technological and governance excellence of Kubernetes, some analysts predicted that Kubernetes will fail against its biggest competitor AWS. Matt Asay wrote that Kubernetes increasingly looks like a rallying cry for erstwhile enemies to combine against a common foe. Good luck with that.

That foe, in this case, according to Asay is AWS. However, Asay completely ignores the role that Kubernetes is playing in the adoption of containers. That’s the key here. Kubernetes is less about AWS and more about container consumption. It’s about multi-hybrid cloud.

Everything competes with something else. Kubernetes can be seen as the same kind of competitor to AWS, as Linux was to Microsoft.

What has happened between Linux and Microsoft? Now so many Microsoft Azure customers are consuming Linux, that Microsoft had to change its tune and is now in love with Linux. The company is going to great lengths to creating a level playing field for Linux. It’s bringing core Microsoft products like Visual Studio and SQL Server to Linux. It’s bringing core Linux utilities to Windows.

The same is happening between Kubernetes and AWS. According to a latest survey more than 63% respondents are running Kubernetes on AWS. Just the way Microsoft couldn’t ignore Linux, AWS can’t ignore Kubernetes. They needed to get on-board and that’s exactly what they have done.

AWS has joined CNCF as a platinum member that also gets them on the board of directors of CNCF. Adrian Cockcroft, Vice President of Cloud Architecture Strategy at AWS, is joining the CNCF board, along with Arun Gupta, Principal Open Source Technologist at Amazon Web Services, who will coordinate technical engagement with projects and working groups at CNCF.

I won’t be surprised to see AWS offering their own Kubernetes services as many other CNCF members like Core OS offer.

But won’t Kubernetes as a service create yet another vendor lock-in? Depends on how much you need tight integration with AWS. If you are a Canonical shop, SUSE shop or Red Hat shop you are kind of locked into that vendor if you really want to consume the services and products they offer. There is always a soft-vendor lock. But can it be broken? Can you move your workloads elsewhere if you want to? Yes, you can. It’s a painstaking process, but you can. And before you do that, please fire the CIO who chose that technology in the first place. There should be no buyer’s remorse when you choose your datacenter/cloud vendor.

I don’t think it will be any different with Kubernetes as a Service by AWS. The whole idea behind containers and microservices is that you can move you workloads around as easily as possible. Kubernetes allows one to consume AWS, at the same time move that workload elsewhere too.

The only way I see things is that AWS joining CNCF is a clear mandate towards Kubernetes. The same mandate that companies have given to Linux. I will go as far as saying that Kubernetes is to cloud, what Linux is to servers.

It’s proves the critics of Kubernetes and open source wrong. It proves that open source is the right way, and only way forward to develop modern software.

The real value that open source brings to the table is that while it allows arch rivals like Microsoft, Google, AWS, Red Hat, SUSE and more to compete for marketshare, it enables them to also collaborate on the same code base that powers their products.

Everyone’s a winner. Including Kubernetes.