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Hybrid cloud computing seems to be one of those goals everyone wants to achieve, but no one is quite sure how to accomplish. Most cloud computing platforms are managed today in isolation from one another. If a managed service provider (MSP) decides to support an additional cloud platform, they also incur increased costs, because each cloud has a different management plane that needs to be mastered.

However, as platforms like Kubernetes continue to gain momentum, that may not always be the case. In fact, the number of customers that have already implemented Kubernetes on multiple clouds is surprisingly high.

An analysis published this week by Sumo Logic, a provider of IT monitoring tools delivered as a service, finds nearly a quarter of customers (23 percent) employing Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure clouds use Kubernetes. The same report finds 59 percent of customers using AWS and Google Cloud Platform use Kubernetes and that 80 percent of customers employing all three clouds have adopted it. That compares to only 20 percent of customers that are solely using AWS who have also deployed Kubernetes.

Kubernetes’ flexibility adds to its appeal

Much of the interest in Kubernetes can be attributed to customers not wanting to get locked into a specific cloud. While AWS may dominate the cloud market today, Kubernetes makes it simpler to move applications. For example, if an IT organization decides to either move applications to another cloud or repatriate them back to an on-premises environment.

In fact, the Sumo Logic research suggests reliance on AWS is not especially deep. The report finds enterprises IT organizations, on average, only consume about 15 of the more than 150 services AWS makes available. Rather than getting too deeply entangled with proprietary AWS application programming interfaces (APIs), it appears most organizations are thinking about keeping their cloud options open.

MSPs should pay close attention to how widely Kubernetes is starting to proliferate across both public clouds and on-premises IT environments. The rise of Kubernetes provides a foundation through which a broad range of management services can be delivered across a hybrid cloud computing environment that has Kubernetes at its core. In fact, it’s that very capability that is at the root of IBM’s rationale to spend $34 billion to acquire Red Hat, which has already made most of its offerings available on multiple clouds by leveraging Kubernetes.

What’s next for MSPs in relation to Kubernetes?

It’s already clear Kubernetes will become a de facto standard in the cloud. The issue that MSPs need to address now is how they will be able to leverage Kubernetes to reduce their own management overhead.

It’s been possible to manage multiple clouds from a single pane of glass before. However, the cost of deploying such a framework has been high. As Kubernetes becomes increasingly ubiquitous, the cost of being able to manage multiple clouds via a single console should drop considerably. 

It will be up to individual MSPs to decide to what degree they want to mix open source and commercial software to achieve that goal. The only thing that is certain is that a new era of managed services in the age of the cloud is upon us.

Photo: Radachynskyi Serhii / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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