Rackspace Debuts Managed Kubernetes Service With Solution Providers In Mind


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Rackspace introduced a managed Kubernetes service Wednesday to its private cloud customers that will soon span on-premises and public clouds.

Rackspace Kubernetes-as-a-Service will differentiate itself in a crowded market by being agnostic to platform and, even more significantly, by delivering the operational support vital to successful deployments of the container orchestration technology, Scott Crenshaw, Rackspace executive vice president and general manager of private cloud, told CRN.

"This handles all of the complexity of successfully operating container clouds, allowing customers to make use of container services with confidence without having to be experts in containers," Crenshaw told CRN.

[Related: Rackspace Partner Program Reboot Includes New Resources, Better Access To Cloud, Managed IT Services For Dedicated Partners]

Kubernetes clusters are easy to implement for test and dev environments, Crenshaw said, but hard to run in production. There are a lot of components that need updating, optimization and securing.

"Kubernetes is a commodity," Crenshaw said. "The hard part is being able to operate it successfully."

The San Antonio-based managed cloud services provider is focusing on day two operations to help customers leverage a technology that is changing the IT infrastructure landscape.

Rackspace provides customers with the container orchestration platform, then delivers managed services to continually optimize and harden their operations.

"The day two operations are really the driver in determining if customers are going to be successful in meeting their goals or not," Crenshaw said.

Rackspace's first foray into containers came in 2015 with the introduction of Carina, an automated Docker container service. That product was envisioned as a pathway toward developing the company's internal tooling, processes and expertise.

"Carina gave us a diverse base of experience across a broad application set. We gained experience at running containers at very high density," he said. That knowledge has been extended into Rackspace Kubernetes-as-a-Service, which has been running as a beta service in production environments for about six months.

Rackspace sees its primary competitors as companies trying to implement and operate Kubernetes themselves, Crenshaw said.

The company believes the new service can cut operating costs in half for those customers, beyond their infrastructure savings.

And partners also have an opportunity to profit from the solution.

"This is a great way for resellers to address one of the fastest-growing use cases in IT," Crenshaw said. "Containerized apps are going to consume a very large portion of IT budgets."

Partners weren't involved in beta implementations but will be incorporated as the Kubernetes service is made generally available for various cloud platforms.

Solution providers looking to penetrate the container market can choose to provide and manage the components themselves, but that's "really hard to do," Crenshaw said.

By reselling the Rackspace service, they will see high margins without the costs, risks and complexity of trying to become cloud-scale operators.

"We allow them to maintain or increase relevance for their customer base, while taking all the difficult back-end work away from them," Crenshaw said. "That’s a big boon to a lot of resellers."

Rackspace has taken large strides in the past 12 months to be more reseller-friendly, he said, and the Kubernetes service was designed with solution providers in mind.

The Rackspace Kubernetes service has debuted on its OpenStack private clouds. The offering will be incrementally rolled out in the coming months for VMware, Microsoft and bare-metal environments, whether they're deployed on-premises, in co-location facilities or in Rackspace data centers. The service will also extend to hyper-scale providers Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

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