Using Kubernetes to manage your infrastructure has meant you either deploy and manage it in-house or employ a managed service provider, which generally takes a one-size-fits-all approach.
The first provides flexibility but with massive complexity, while the latter takes care of the complexity, but with rigidity.
Santa Clara, California-based Spectro Cloud asserts there should be a middle way — one that provides Kubernetes users SaaS management with control and flexibility.
“Although Kubernetes is an awesome technology, it’s not a product, it’s just a piece of a broader puzzle that you will have to work around too, to make sure it can be truly production-ready and not take over your own life,” said CEO Tenry Fu.
“We want to provide a SaaS-based platform to help enterprise customers to be able to maintain control over their Kubernetes infrastructure stack, but still offer the convenience of a managed Kubernetes experience.”
Spectro Cloud uses what it calls cluster profiles that break clusters into layers where users create declarative models of all the associated components: Kubernetes versions, network, storage, security, logging, monitoring, load balancing and user-defined layers.
The platform automates the maintenance and upgrade of clusters, ensuring that patches are applied quickly and upgrades happen seamlessly.
Different groups within the organization can have different profiles to match their needs, then let Spectro Cloud take care of deploying and managing the clusters at scale.
“Enterprises are struggling to realize the promise of Kubernetes due to its operational complexity. While the managed Kubernetes services solve this problem for those that want/need a completely pre-packaged approach, for the majority, they can become too restrictive for the varied needs that enterprises have. Spectro Cloud has created a flexible solution that provides the scalable automation and ease-of-use of the managed services, but enables enterprises to retain greater control,” said analyst Roy Illsley at Omdia.
They founded the company last May and began a private beta, involving 16 customers, of their product in January. It is slated to be generally available in the next few months.
“Despite all this excitement that everyone has around Kubernetes, a lot of enterprises are really stuck between a rock and a hard place around needs versus operating models,” said Tina Nolte, vice president of product.
“The way we describe it to folks is around an infrastructure control continuum. It really forces enterprises in the trade-offs between control and ease of use. On one extreme, you’ve got things like the managed Kubernetes services and a public cloud, where they offer what you can think of as a Nirvana of ease of use, right? Expensive control over things like which cloud you want to use … Kubernetes versions, over things like exact known good versions of system components. … And the other end of that spectrum is really full control, where you, you manage every bit of your infrastructure literally from the ground up. … Each enterprise is unique, and we believe they should be able to use exactly the components that they need and not what a vendor forces on them.”
One example that comes up often is that companies want to be able to use more recent Kubernetes versions because their developers are seeing feature functionality in the Kubernetes ecosystem that they can’t take advantage of until the managed service or the package distro vendor has integrated or blessed that particular version, she said.
Spectro Cloud provides cluster lifecycle management in the context of the entire infrastructure stack, not just Kubernetes itself, she said. For each layer, there are out-of-the box options, but users can create custom profiles as well.
“Our business units end up choosing different Kubernetes providers as they all have different niches and varying maturity levels in different fields like AI, machine learning, public cloud vs on-premises offerings, etc. Operationally, this becomes a nightmare because IT needs multiple support structures to address the different infrastructure stacks,” said Sébastien Morissette, IT architect specialist — Infrastructure, Security and IT Services at Canadian insurer Intact Financial Corp.
“A platform like Spectro Cloud addresses both the day 1 and day 2 operations of our Kubernetes ecosystem by normalizing the way IT deploys, operates and manages Kubernetes clusters over a broad spectrum of endpoints, both on-premises and in the cloud. The control IT gets from Spectro Cloud’s cluster profiles means they can customize offerings to each business unit while maintaining responsibility for overall operations.”
Infrastructure as Code
Spectro Cloud’s cluster profiles keep configuration consistent across the organization.
It’s really just infrastructure as a code for Kubernetes, according to Fu. The cluster profile is just a YAML file.
“It will basically allow a user to easily model Kubernetes. And once you have the model, the other unique piece of our functionality is orchestration engine can take this model and deploy or update that within a cluster,” he said.
“We really see this cluster profile as a kind of the last stage declarative model, so if anything is the modified right about this cluster profile, or if anything about the cluster has been modified outside the environment, will result in a mismatch, and our platform will automatically detect that right and then automatically recalculate to make the cluster match with the latest cluster profile.”
Spectro Cloud automatically monitors clusters for compliance through version upgrades, and that dependencies don’t break during canary deployments.
“Our system automatically maintains consistency in the background between your deployments and what that ground truth that you defined within your cluster profile,” said Nolte. “That’s pretty powerful.”
Clusters can be deployed into public clouds, private clouds, on bare metal or edge systems.
The company emerged from stealth in March, announcing a $7.5 million seed round led by Sierra Ventures with participation from Boldstart Ventures.
“While cloud native applications and supporting infrastructure are still early, we see the area as one where big ideas can help accelerate the market. Containers and container cluster management infrastructure are going to underpin the next applications, and we’re excited to support Spectro Cloud in making that infrastructure accessible to all,” said Mark Fernandes, managing director of Sierra Ventures, of the investment.