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Kubernetes our Own Way

Last year, our CEO Zac wrote a blog post that bounced quickly around the internet. The post was classic Packet: a provocative and snarky title, paired with a savvy read on the fast-evolving cloud native ecosystem, and finished off with an authentic re-commitment to the values at the core of the company.

Our message is clear: if you’re in the business of delivering software and services on top of infrastructure, we don't want to compete with you, we want to work with you.

While I’ve known the Packet team for years — including helping to produce the occasional parking lot conference, a meetup on a 16th-century boat or intimate “Junto” dinner — it was statements like this that got me thinking about how Packet is about a lot more than just automated bare metal. 

The business was — and still very much is — about ecosystems. In fact, more than ever. 

Kubernetes, the Hard-est Way?

One of Kelsey Hightower’s many gifts is an ability to connect with people, inviting them into new technologies and ideas and strengthening our communities as a result. His classic guide to getting up and running with “Kubernetes the Hard Way” is a case in point. By asking a bit more of us up front, Kelsey pulls us deeper into the foundational concepts at play and challenges us to stretch and grow for the right reasons. In the readme notes Kelsey writes that "Kubernetes The Hard Way is optimized for learning, which means taking the long route to ensure you understand each task required to bootstrap a Kubernetes cluster."

In Zac’s post, he spoke to Packet’s investments in core open source components, but to be honest, it was still early days. His “oops” blog set off months of hard work that has only just started to bear real fruit for our users. But in asking us to dive deep and stick to our values, we’ve learned so much about interacting with the Kubernetes ecosystem in our own, authentic way.

Here’s a quick list of some of the investments we’ve made in the core Kubernetes ecosystem:

  • Cluster API - The Cluster API helps you commoditize and simplify the process of creating, configuring, and managing your clusters. Since the community around Cluster API has evolved a lot in a year, we got to write this one twice! Learning, unlocked.
     
  • Cloud Controller Manager (CCM) - The CCM is a control plane component that lets your clusters interface with and authenticate to our APIs. At Packet, it is especially important for helping Kubernetes know the state of your machines, enable and control load balancers and coming real soon, enabling a multi-master control plane.
     
  • Cluster Autoscaler – The Cluster Autoscaler, as the name implies, autoscales your cluster worker nodes to meet your needs at any given time. Improvements for multiple nodepools is coming soon.
     
  • Container Storage Interface (CSI) – The CSI plugin is all about making the k8s volume layer extensible by creating persistent volumes for your clusters. Currently integrated with Packet’s Block Storage offering, stay tuned for more investments here.
     
  • MetalLB - While not an “official” member of the core Kubernetes family, MetalLB definitely circles close to the sun. It brings a dead simple, but effective approach, to a gap in Kubernetes around bare metal, helping you manage a simple network load balancer that “just works” including with BGP, which is an important primitive that we expose at Packet. 

By investing in open source building blocks, we’ve opened the door for those with the deepest expertise and boldest opinions to confidently run any flavor of Kubernetes on our infrastructure. Prefer Cilium to Calico? Works for us. Does your heart sing for Rook, OpenEBS, Portworx or StorageOS? We’re right there with you.  

We Come In Peace: Take Me to Your Partner

At Equinix there is a saying: when it comes to business the formula is “Equinix plus Two Equals a Deal”. Since Equinix and Packet are in the business of providing infrastructure primitives, and most customers are looking for solutions, partners are a critical part of the equation. 

When it comes to Kubernetes, we’ve invested in the partners who are in the business of helping others move faster, operate more confidently, and achieve their goals. 

Commercial Open Source - In addition to pure open source, we’re big believers in the emerging COSS tsunami.

  • Rancher - Recently acquired by SUSE (congrats!), Rancher and Packet go way back. One of our favorite Rancher solutions is K3s — try it with this handy guide.
  • Kinvolk - Open Source aficionados Kinvolk continue the CoreOS legacy, with Flatcar Linux (available natively on Packet) and Lokomotive.
  • WeaveWorks - Inventors of, among many other things, GitOps, Weave.Works and Packet have worked closely together for years. You can try the results yourself.
  • Kubermatic - Having recently rebranded from Loodse to Kubermatic and released its core platform as open source, our friends at Kubermatic have been leading the multi-master, run-anywhere charge for years!

Enterprise Solutions - It’s shaping up to be a great time for portable software, especially in the Enterprise. Major vendors like VMware and cloud providers have jumped in to help provide a “go anywhere” experience that is trusted, comprehensive and supported from the start. Here’s where we are spending our time: 

  • Google Anthos - Our relationship with Anthos goes back to the beginning of the project, and it is amazing to see the velocity. Want to play?
  • Red Hat OpenShift - Almost nobody has been in the Kubernetes game longer, and the IBM acquisition has only increased OpenShift’s role in the industry. Get up and running with OpenShift on Packet in minutes.
  • VMware Tanzu - The reigning champions of virtualization are impressing the industry — and us — with their investments in cloud-native. While you’ll need to bring a few bits with you, Tanzu on Packet is a thing.
  • Platform9 - Started by true veterans, Platform9 offers a unique and proven experience that offers a fully managed private and edge cloud experience.

We’ve also formed meaningful relationships with the broader ecosystem that includes storage, security, traffic management, and observability. This is just the beginning. As Zac noted in his post, if you’re in the business of delivering value on top of infrastructure, we want to collaborate, not compete.

It’s Not About Kubernetes at All, Is It? 

A lot has changed since last year, both for me and also Packet. After the company was acquired in March by Equinix, I joined as head of Developers Relations, lured by the opportunity to build something truly special. Just a few short months later, we’ve open-sourced Tinkerbell (our bare metal provisioning engine), built a team bigger than the entire company at which I used to work, and doubled down on a strategy built on trust by staying in our lane and enabling open source software ecosystems to do what they do best: unprecedented innovation in new areas of technology.

And when it comes to Kubernetes and cloud-native, our message remains the same: Kubernetes your own way is our way. 

Photograph of two men having a conversion outside by a table of servers
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