Cloud Services / Containers / Kubernetes / Contributed

Cycle.io: A Container Orchestration Platform Aimed at Developers

16 Feb 2022 10:00am, by
Twain Taylor
Twain is a guest blogger for Twistlock and a Fixate IO contributor. He began his career at Google, where, among other things, he was involved in technical support for the AdWords team. His work involved reviewing stack traces and resolving issues affecting both customers and the support team, and handling escalations. Today, as a technology journalist, he helps IT magazines and startups change the way teams build and ship applications.

Over the past few years since the launch of Kubernetes, organizations have gone all-in on the container orchestration solution, taking it to peak hype levels. The adoption of K8s, as many in the industry refer to it, has brought both vendors and customer organizations together to work toward a common goal of application portability.

While the cloud native ecosystem as a whole has benefitted from these advancements within container orchestration, there is another side to this story. After spending tens of thousands of dollars, many organizations have found Kubernetes to be too complicated, requiring too much maintenance and care.

Because of these ongoing requirements, organizations end up dropping the ball on security patches and updates as they attempt to refocus on their core products and services.

Today, many of these organizations are looking elsewhere to simplify cloud operations without sacrificing capabilities, something that’s becoming a thing of the past. Enter, Cycle.io — a “developer-friendly container orchestration platform.”

Cycle was developed to alleviate many of the complexities that accompany the adoption of Kubernetes with the goal of getting developers back to focusing on code while alleviating the need for large DevOps teams in the process.

Why Move Away from Kubernetes?

Many of the organizations that bought into Kubernetes because of the hype find that they actually use very little of K8s’s features. With all the maintenance involved, extreme technical debt that outweighs value is discovered. Still, in the broader ecosystem, Kubernetes is being pulled into many different directions by companies trying to solve various issues. Thus, Kubernetes becomes the focus, distracting from the fundamental goal of running cloud native applications effortlessly.

Meanwhile, Cycle takes an entirely different approach by bringing together the essential features of container orchestration.

Cycle.io CEO and founder Jake Warner, stated:

“We take a bold approach on container orchestration by focusing on what we refer to as ‘the 80% rule.’ Most companies don’t require a majority of the features and capabilities that come with platforms like Kubernetes. By staying hyper-focused on where we spend our time and prioritizing quality over quantity, the Cycle platform is able to provide a solid and stable foundation for companies of all sizes without massively increasing technical debt or requiring additional teams to manage it.”

Cycle’s Approach

Cycle is a unified layer that abstracts the management of networking and infrastructure. The platform is divided into two components: the core and compute. The core is fully managed by Cycle and includes everything from APIs and the portal to build systems and more. The compute service, which manages containers, networks, load balancing and a few other critical tasks, exists on user infrastructure.


Beyond ensuring the platform is developer-friendly, Cycle has two key focus areas — automatic updates and multicloud scalability. These are traditionally complicated problems for any Kubernetes system, but Cycle offers an alternative approach.

1. Automatic Updates

Keeping your system updated is essential not only for operational ease but also for system security. Though most managed Kubernetes services like EKS and GKE promise automatic updates, the process is actually anything but automatic. On the other hand, Cycle delivers an update on average every 10 to 14 days to all its customers, and the update is automatically applied without users having to lift a finger.

2. Multicloud Scalability

If you think about it, delivering true multicloud portability is against the best interests of the managed services. Why would they want you to move to a competitor? Instead, they look for ways to lock you into their managed service.

Cycle takes a vendor-agnostic approach to container orchestration and, in doing so, delivers on the original promise of Kubernetes. The platform currently supports AWS, Equinix Metal, Vultr, with more to come. Cycle ensures there is no provider lock-in and, in fact, makes it extremely easy to move container instances from one provider to another — a few clicks in the portal and you’ve moved your container to another provider without executing a single command.

This approach of abstracting and standardizing the underlying infrastructure is fundamental to how Cycle continues its mission to simplify deployments across different providers. This powerful capability is yet to be demonstrated by any vendor in the space.

Who Is Cycle for?

Cycle is seeing adoption among startups and larger organizations who are looking to grow without increasing DevOps complexity or costs in the process. Additionally, many of Cycle’s early adopters are small to midsize development teams who have found that Kubernetes was not the right fit for their organizations and experience huge gains in developer productivity, deployment velocity and platform capabilities through Cycle.

It’s also worth mentioning who Cycle is not for. The platform restricts access to a few components, like the host OS, to ensure Cycle is able to push updates reliably without encountering compatibility or mismatch issues. Organizations that need granular control over every aspect of their infrastructure or those that run highly-customized ​​Kubernetes are not an ideal fit for Cycle. Cycle believes that this is a minority and that many organizations would be better off focusing on their products than managing every part of Kubernetes.

The Apple of Containers

Warner happened to demonstrate an early version of the product to Kelsey Hightower, principal engineer at Google Cloud, who quipped that “Cycle takes an Apple-like approach to containers.” His point is that with Cycle, you have less control over the things you don’t care about (networking, updates and vendor-specific features). Instead, you gain a much more polished experience where it matters — faster deployments, cross-cloud portability, automatic updates. Warner confirms that “with Cycle, many customers double-down on scaling their development teams without requiring large DevOps teams.”

Kelsey Hightower once tweeted, “Kubernetes is not about running the same software stack across cloud providers. It’s about abstracting and automating away the differences.”

To date, ​​Kubernetes has not been able to deliver this level of portability and ease of use. Cycle promises to fill this gap. If you’re looking for an alternative to Kubernetes, consider Cycle.

Disclosure: The author has done some consulting work with Cycle.

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners, an investor in the following companies mentioned in this article: Hightower.

Featured image: Pixabay.