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CoreOS chief decries cloud lock-in

Adds Kubernetes and etcd as services in Tectonic

CoreOS Fest CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi spent his morning on Wednesday biting the hands that fed attendees at his company's conference, CoreOS Fest 2017.

"Every shift in infrastructure that we've seen ... has promised more efficiency, reliability and agility," said Polvi. "But every single one has resulted in a massive proprietary software vendor that has undermined all the work done in the free software community. And we're beginning to believe cloud is looking the same."

As Polvi proceeded to hang Amazon Web Services as his pinata, he acknowledged the awkwardness of his line of argument because Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft were among the cloud service providers paying for pastries and the like at the event.

While the compute component of cloud services has become relatively commoditized, the higher-order services available on cloud platforms, like databases, can lock customers in, Polvi insisted.

He pointed to Amazon DynamoDB as a service without any open source equivalent. "If you write a software program that consumes that service, you'll never be able to run it yourself," he said.

Polvi's concern about cloud lock-in dovetailed with his company's launch of two cloud services based on open-source software: etcd as a service and Kubernetes as a service.

Essentially, CoreOS is trying to decouple cloud services from hosting.

"No cloud provider has an etcd as a service, making it the best etcd as a service," Polvi quipped.

etcd, as CoreOS describes it, is "an open-source distributed key value store that provides shared configuration and service discovery for Container Linux clusters."

Its availability as an Operator in Tectonic means etcd handles scaling, recovery, and updates automatically instead of manually.

Kubernetes, meanwhile, is open-source software for orchestrating clusters of containers. Previously available as a service on the Google Cloud Platform, it's now a service through Tectonic, which combines a commercial distribution of Kubernetes with the CoreOS stack.

CoreOS is thus providing companies with a way to run Kubernetes on any bare metal, public cloud, or private cloud infrastructure, with the automation implied by the term "service" but not tied to a specific cloud vendor platform.

The company also announced the Container Linux Operator, which provides operating system patching within Kubernetes.

Citing data from 451 Research, Polvi noted that 71 per cent of enterprises are using Kubernetes for, among other reasons, avoiding vendor lock-in.

Interviewed in the press room after the keynote, Al Sadowski, research veep at 451 Research, said among 761 enterprise decision makers surveyed, the ability to move workloads from public to private cloud and efficiency were the two most commonly mentioned drivers for container usage. Lock-in concern is there, but it's not necessarily top of mind.

Sadowski suggested that the days of proprietary enterprise software contracts may be numbered because much of the innovation in businesses today involves open-source software. Enterprise vendors like BMC, CA, and Oracle, he said, should be worried. ®

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