GPUs on Google’s Kubernetes Engine are now available in open beta

The Google Kubernetes Engine (previously known as the Google Container Engine and GKE) now allows all developers to attach Nvidia GPUs to their containers.

GPUs on GKE (an acronym Google used to be quite fond of, but seems to be deemphasizing now) have been available in closed alpha for more than half a year. Now, however, this service is in beta and open to all developers who want to run machine learning applications or other workloads that could benefit from a GPU. As Google notes, the service offers access to both the Tesla P100 and K80 GPUs that are currently available on the Google Cloud Platform.

The advantages of the kontainer/GPU combo is that you can easily scale your workloads up and down as needed. Most GPU workloads probably aren’t all that spikey, but in case yours are, this looks like a good option to evaluate.

Google makes it easy to monitor GPU jobs through its API and its Stackdriver monitoring and logging service.

Overall, the Kubernetes Engine (which seems to be Google’s prefered nom du guerre for the GKE now) saw its core-hours grow 9x year over year in 2017. That’s no surprise, given the hype around containers and the fact that the GKE, as it was called at the time, only launched in 2016, but it does show that Google may just have a winner here.

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Sylabs launches Singularity Pro, a container platform for high performance computing

Sylabs, the commercial company behind the open source Singularity container engine, announced its first commercial product today, Singularity Pro.

Sylabs was launched in 2015 to create a container platform specifically designed for scientific and high performance computing use cases, two areas that founder and CEO Gregory Kurtzer, says were left behind in the containerization movement over the last several years. (For an explanation of containers, see this article.)

Docker emerged as the container of engine of choice for developers, but Kurtzer says the container solutions developed early on focused on microservices. He says there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it left out some types of computing that relied on processing jobs instead of services, specifically high performance computing.

Kurtzer, who didn’t exactly just fall off the open source turnip truck, had more than 20 years of experience as a high performance computing architect working at the US Department of Energy Lab, where he founded CentOS, an open source enterprise Linux project and Warewulf, which he says has become the most utilized stateless HPC cluster provisioner.

He decided to shift his attention to containers when founded Sylabs and launched the first open source version of Singularity in April, 2016. Even then, he had a vision of creating a commercial version of the product. He saw Singularity as a Docker for HPC environments, and would run his company in a similar fashion to Docker, leading with the open source project, then building a commercial business on top of it — just as Docker had done.

Kurtzer now wants to bring Singularity to the enterprise with a focus not just on the HPC commercial market, but other high performance computing workloads such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and advanced analytics.

“These applications carry data-intensive workloads that demand HPC-like resources, and as more companies leverage data to support their businesses, the need to properly containerize and support those workflows has grown substantially,” Kurtzer wrote in a blog post announcing the enterprise product.

Even though Singularity is designed to handle different kinds of workloads, it still works with container orchestration tools, specifically Kubernetes and Mesos, and it is also compatible with Microsoft’s Azure Batch tool and other cloud tools.

Kurtzer indicated Sylabs currently has 12 employees, and is operating on an undisclosed amount of seed money. It was funded by RStor, a startup itself currently operating in stealth mode.

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Red Hat acquires CoreOS for $250 million in Kubernetes expansion

Red Hat, a company best known for its enterprise Linux products, has been making a big play for Kubernetes and containerization in recent years with its OpenShift Kubernetes product. Today the company decided to expand on that by acquiring CoreOS, a container management startup, for $250 million.

The company’s core products includes CoreOS, a Linux distribution and Tectonic, a container management solution based on the open source Kubernetes container orchestration platform, originally developed by Google. (For more information on containers, see this article.)

CoreOs and Red Hat have been among the top contributors to Kubernetes along with Google, FathomDB, ZTE Corporation, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Fujitsu and Mirantis.

Perhaps by working so closely on Kubernetes, CoreOS and Red Hat formed a bond and it eventually made sense for them to come together and share customers and brain power. The companies also had competing Linux distros with CoreOS and Red Hat Atomic concentrating on containers, and perhaps the two can find some common developer ground by combining the two.

If the next generation of software is going to be in a hybrid cloud world where part lives on prem in the data center and part in the public cloud, having a cloud native fabric to deliver applications in a single way is going to be critical. Red Hat’s president of products and technologies, Paul Cormier said that the combined companies are providing a powerful way to span environments.

“The next era of technology is being driven by container-based applications that span multi- and hybrid cloud environments, including physical, virtual, private cloud and public cloud platforms. Kubernetes, containers and Linux are at the heart of this transformation, and like Red Hat, CoreOS has been a leader in both the upstream open source communities that are fueling these innovations and its work to bring enterprise-grade Kubernetes to customers,” Cormier said in a statement.

As CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi told me in an interview last year, “As a company we helped create the whole container category alongside Google, Docker and Red Hat. We helped create a whole new category of infrastructure,” he said.

His company was early to the game by developing an enterprise Kubernetes product, and he was able to capitalize on that. “We called Kubernetes super-duper early and helped enterprises like Ticketmaster and Starbucks adopt Kubernetes,” he said.

He explained that Tectonic included four main categories include governance, monitoring tools, chargeback accounting and one-click upgrades.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst told us in an interview last year that his company also came early to containers and Kubernetes. He said the company recognized containers included an operating system kernel, that was usually Linux. One thing they understood was Linux and so they started delving into Kubernetes and containerization and built OpenShift.

CoreOS raised $50 million since its inception in 2013. Investors include GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Kleiner Perkins, who appear to have gotten a nice return here. The most recent round was a $28 million Series B in May 2016 led by GV. One interesting aside is that Google, which has been a big contributor to Kubernetes itself and whose venture arm helped finance CoreOS, was scooped by Red Hat in this deal.

The deal is expected to close this month, and given we only have one day left, chances are it’s done.

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Instana raises $20 million for its microservice monitoring and management service

Instana, a company that helps enterprises monitor and manage their microservice deployments with the help of automation and artificial intelligence, today announced that it has raised a $20 million Series B round led by Accel, with participation from existing investor Target Partners. This brings Instana’s total funding to $26 million to date.

Launched in 2015, Instana bills itself as a next-gen application performance management (APM) solution that focuses on monitoring the kind of dynamic modern applications that are slowly starting to crop up in the enterprise thanks to the help of containers and microservices. Instana’s promise is that, once users have installed its agent on their servers, it can detect and map all of the different components that make up these applications and that it can map the interactions and dependencies between them in real time. It then uses the information it gathers to automatically detect anomalies.

“Since our incubation in Germany, Instana focused on delivering to the needs of monitoring today’s modern dynamic application environments,” said Mirko Novakovic, Instana founder and CEO. “By providing a unique AI-powered solution, we’ve succeeded in driving rapid customer adoption, having been deployed at nearly 100 enterprise customers globally in just 10 months. The addition of Accel to our existing investor, Target Partners, is another strong endorsement; their guidance and support will be critical as Instana continues to scale, mature and succeed.”

The company plans to use the new funding to expand its product development team and “fulfill the demand from across global markets.”

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Heptio teams up with Microsoft to build a better Kubernetes disaster recovery solution

With the rise of Kubernetes as the de facto standard for container orchestration, it’s no surprise that there’s now a whole ecosystem of companies springing up around this open source project. Heptio is one of the most interesting ones, in no small part due to the fact that it was founded by Kubernetes co-founders Joe Beda and Craig McLuckie. Today, Heptio announced that it is teaming up with Microsoft on its Heptio Ark project, which it launched earlier this year.

Heptio Ark is a utility for managing backups and disaster recovery that helps you bring your Kubernetes clusters and volumes back up after your run into a major issue in your data center.

The plan is for Microsoft and Heptio to work together on strengthening Ark’s core capabilities, but also on making it a tool for moving Kubernetes applications across on-premise environments and — unsurprisingly — Microsoft Azure and the Azure Container Service (AKS — because Microsoft hasn’t come around to renaming it to ‘Azure Kubernetes Service’ just yet).

“Few real-world companies live solely in the public cloud,” said Heptio CEO Craig McLuckie. “It is incredibly important that the tools and practices they adopt when selecting their public cloud services work on-premises as well. Microsoft’s commitment to working with the open source community will not only benefit Azure customers, but strengthens the Kubernetes community.”

What’s also interesting about this move is that it brings the three Kubernetes co-founders together, with Beda and McLuckie at Heptio, and Microsoft’s Brendan Burns, who worked with the Heptio founders at Google when they launched the Kubernetes project into open source (and who was the lead engineer for Kubernetes at Google).

“I’m excited to see Heptio and Microsoft deliver a compelling solution that satisfies an important and unmet need in the Kubernetes ecosystem,” said Burns. “We’re working with Heptio to ensure that the integration of Ark and Azure is a best-of-breed solution for backing up on-premise Kubernetes clusters into the cloud.”

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Pivotal has something for everyone in the latest Cloud Foundry Platform release

Pivotal wants to be the development platform that serves everyone, and today at their SpringOne Platform (S1P) developer conference in San Francisco, they announced a huge upgrade to their Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform (PCF) that includes support for serverless computing, containers and a new app store.

As James Waters, senior VP of strategy sees it, this all part of deliberate strategy by Pivotal to provide a complete developer experience. “One of the things we do pretty well is curate an enterprise experience for folks.What we are doing with this release is coming forward in a curative way — these are the cloud native interfaces you need.

That includes three main elements. For starters if you want to run containers using Kubernetes, the popular container orchestration tool, the company is making the Pivotal/Google/VMware Kubernetes container product announced in August is now generally available.

As I wrote at the time, “Google brings Kubernetes to the table, the open-source container orchestration tool. Pivotal adds the Platform as a Service piece with Cloud Foundry and VMware adds a management layer to pull it all together.”

In addition, the company is offering a serverless product. Serverless computing enables developers to create applications that only access a server when they need one, usually when a specific event triggers the requirement. This saves companies from the cost of continually running a server when they only need it for the event triggers.

The base PCF platform also gets some love with more fundamental Windows Server and VMware NSX-T integration along with a new a new Healthwatch dashboard that provides insights into the health of application running on PCF.

Perhaps the biggest part of the announcement is the release of an app store they are calling the PCF marketplace. It’s designed to provide direct access to cloud services that PCF users can plug directly into the platform. It’s interesting that CoreOS introduced a similar service earlier today for the release of Tectonic 1.8.

Perhaps apps stores are the new thing for container-focused platforms, but both companies see it in similar terms. It provides a way to use the best of breed cloud services without getting locked into one proprietary public cloud stack and getting stuck with a single vendor for any particular service.

One of the problems for big enterprises is moving to the public cloud and it’s hard to get started. With our new service catalog, they can connect to something like Google machine learning, and they are good to go,” Waters explained.

The new service includes connectors for GitHub, Splunk, New Relic and hundreds of others, according to Pivotal

Pivotal is an odd duck in some ways. It’s an independent company that’s raised over $1.7 billion. Its last round in 2016 was for over $650 million.  Yet it falls under the federation of companies that made up EMC, the company that Dell bought in 2016 for $67 billion. Other investors have included GE, Microsoft and Ford.

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CoreOS Tectonic 1.8 makes it easy to plug external services into Kubernetes

CoreOS announced Tectonic 1.8, its latest update of the popular Kubernetes container orchestration tool. It features a new open services catalog that enables DevOps personnel to plug in external services into Kubernetes with ease.

As Rob Szumski, Tectonic product manager at CoreOS pointed out in a company blog post announcing the new version, public clouds offer lots of benefits around ease of use, but they can end up locking you in, in some cases to a proprietary set of tools.

This is precisely what the new Open Cloud Services catalog is designed to resolve. Instead of using those proprietary tools, you get more open choices and that should make it easier to move between clouds or a hybrid environment.

“New for Tectonic 1.8, CoreOS Open Cloud Services offer the same near-effortless operations customers have come to expect from managed cloud offerings with a difference. Unlike proprietary cloud services, Open Cloud Services are first-class, fully automated Kubernetes resources running on the CoreOS Tectonic platform,” Szumski wrote in the blog post.

CoreOS is aiming to keep the whole process as open and portable as possible, so that customers can choose where and how they want to deploy their applications. What’s more, the Open Cloud Catalog is built right into the Tectonic console, making it simple to enable the external services (or disable them as you choose).

Among the earliest additions to the Open Cloud Services offering are etcd, Prometheus and Vault.

The Open Cloud Service Catalog was only part of the Tectonic 1.8 release, which puts it in line with the open source version released at the end of September. As CoreOS points out, this is a pure upstream version of Kubernetes, meaning it’s not a fork, something the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, the organization that manages the Kubernetes open source project has been striving for from members.

It will also automatically update the Docker container engine, which developers use to create the containers that make up an application. Operations uses Kubernetes to manage and deploy the containers. That means, it’s taking care of both sides of the container DevOps equation for you.

The latest version will be shipping towards the end of the year and the company says it will be a smooth and automatic update from Tectonic 1.7 for existing CoreOS customers.

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