Kubernetes User Case Studies
Cloud Native Computing Foundation
Launched by DISH Network in 2015, Sling TV experienced great customer growth from the beginning. After just a year, “we were going through some growing pains of some of the legacy systems and trying to find the right architecture to enable our future,” says Brad Linder, Sling TV’s Cloud Native & Big Data Evangelist. The company has particular challenges: “We take live TV and distribute it over the internet out to a user’s device that we do not control,” says Linder. “In a lot of ways, we are working in the Wild West: The internet is what it is going to be, and if a customer’s service does not work for whatever reason, they do not care why. They just want things to work. Those are the variables of the equation that we have to try to solve. We really have to try to enable optionality and good customer experience at web scale.”
Led by the belief that “the cloud native architectures and patterns really give us a lot of flexibility in meeting the needs of that sort of customer base,” Linder partnered with Rancher Labs to build Sling TV’s next-generation platform around Kubernetes. “We are going to need to enable a hybrid cloud strategy including multiple public clouds and an on-premise VMWare multi data center environment to meet the needs of the business at some point, so getting that sort of abstraction was a real goal,” he says. “That is one of the biggest reasons why we picked Kubernetes.” The team launched its first applications on Kubernetes in Sling TV’s two internal data centers. The push to enable AWS as a data center option is underway and should be available by the end of 2018. The team has added Prometheus for monitoring and Jaeger for tracing, to work alongside the company’s existing tool sets: Zenoss, New Relic and ELK.
“We are getting to the place where we can one-click deploy an entire data center – the compute, network, Kubernetes, logging, monitoring and all the apps,” says Linder. “We have really enabled a platform thinking based approach to allowing applications to consume common tools. A new application can be onboarded in about an hour using common tooling and CI/CD processes. The gains on that side have been huge. Before, it took at least a few days to get things sorted for a new application to deploy. That does not consider the training of our operations staff to manage this new application. It is two or three orders of magnitude of savings in time and cost, and operationally it has given us the opportunity to let a core team of talented operations engineers manage common infrastructure and tooling to make our applications available at web scale.”
The beauty of streaming television, like the service offered by Sling TV is that you can watch it from any device you want, wherever you want.
Of course, from the provider side of things, that creates a particular set of challenges “We take live TV and distribute it over the internet out to a user’s device that we do not control,” says Brad Linder, Sling TV’s Cloud Native & Big Data Evangelist. “In a lot of ways, we are working in the Wild West: The internet is what it is going to be, and if a customer’s service does not work for whatever reason, they do not care why. They just want things to work. Those are the variables of the equation that we have to try to solve. We really have to try to enable optionality and we have to do it at web scale.”
Indeed, Sling TV experienced great customer growth from the beginning of its launch by DISH Network in 2015. After just a year, “we were going through some growing pains of some of the legacy systems and trying to find the right architecture to enable our future,” says Linder. Tasked with building a next-generation web scale platform for the “personalized customer experience,” Linder has spent the past year bringing Kubernetes to Sling TV.
Led by the belief that “the cloud native architectures and patterns really give us a lot of flexibility in meeting the needs of our customers,” Linder partnered with Rancher Labs to build the platform around Kubernetes. “They have really helped us get our head around how to use Kubernetes,” he says. “We needed the flexibility to enable our use case versus just a simple orchestrater. Enabling our future in a way that did not give us vendor lock-in was also a key part of our strategy. I think that is part of the Rancher value proposition.”
Kubernetes Case Study
Using Kubernetes for container orchestration and Docker for containerization, the ING team began building an internal public cloud for its CI/CD pipeline and green-field applications. The pipeline, which has been built on Mesos Marathon, will be migrated onto Kubernetes. The bank-account management app Yolt in the U.K. (and soon France and Italy) market already is live hosted on a Kubernetes framework. At least two greenfield projects currently on the Kubernetes framework will be going into production later this year. By the end of 2018, the company plans to have converted a number of APIs used in the banking customer experience to cloud native APIs and host these on the Kubernetes-based platform.
“Cloud native technologies are helping our speed, from getting an application to test to acceptance to production,” says Infrastructure Architect Onno Van der Voort. “If you walk around ING now, you see all these DevOps teams, doing stand-ups, demoing. They try to get new functionality out there really fast. We held a hackathon for one of our existing components and basically converted it to cloud native within 2.5 days, though of course the tail takes more time before code is fully production ready.”
ING has long embraced innovation in banking, launching the internet-based ING Direct in 1997.
In that same spirit, the company underwent an agile transformation a few years ago. “Our DevOps teams got empowered to be autonomous,” says Infrastructure Architect Thijs Ebbers. “It has benefits; you get all kinds of ideas. But a lot of teams are going to devise the same wheel. Teams started tinkering with Docker, Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, Mesos. Well, it’s not really useful for a company to have one hundred wheels, instead of one good wheel.”
Looking to standardize the deployment process within the company’s strict security guidelines, the team looked at several solutions and found that in the past year, “Kubernetes won the container management framework wars,” says Ebbers. “We decided to standardize ING on a Kubernetes framework.” Everything is run on premise due to banking regulations, he adds, but “we will be building an internal public cloud. We are trying to get on par with what public clouds are doing. That’s one of the reasons we got Kubernetes.”
They also embraced Docker to address a major pain point in ING’s CI/CD pipeline. Before containerization, “Every development team had to order a VM, and it was quite a heavy delivery model for them,” says Infrastructure Architect Onno Van der Voort. “Another use case for containerization is when the application travels through the pipeline, they fire up Docker containers to do test work against the applications and after they’ve done the work, the containers get killed again.”ur strategy. I think that is part of the Rancher value proposition.”