Containers / Data / Kubernetes

TNS Research: How Much Did it Cost to Build the Kubernetes Ecosystem?

7 Oct 2016 9:23am, by

Editor’s Note: The original article has been updated to include rkt in the calculations. Also, on June 30, 2020 the interactive widget used for the calculations was replaced with screen shots.

What did the Kubernetes ecosystem cost? A couple of weeks ago the CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi posed this question. With the help of Black Duck Open Hub open source directory, we were quickly able to get an approximate answer.

Based on the lines of code in each project, we estimate that it cost about $120 million to get to Kubernetes 1.4. Albeit this is really a back-of-the-envelope guess, but it better than nothing, and it is a metric that let you compare it to other closed-source development projects.

How did we get to that number? We made many assumptions. First, that the ecosystem is only comprised of the Kubernetes, Docker, etcd, and rkt projects. Second, that the only costs associated with a projects are developer salaries. Then, Black Duck’s calculator used the COCOMO software costing model that relies on two basic inputs: 1) lines of code and 2) developer salary. Per Black Duck, “COCOMO was created to model large institutional projects, which often don’t compare well with distributed open-source projects. Beyond just development time, COCOMO is meant to include the design, specifications drafting, reviewing, and management overhead that goes along with producing quality software.”

According to the statistics on Open Hub, there are 2,609,454 lines of code in these projects. At an average salary of $55,000 a year, that totals over $40 million dollars. We know that many of Docker contributors did so in their free time, but how many is hard to determine. That being said, we also know that the average Google employee makes much more, so we looked at what total development costs would be if the average developer had salaries of $165,000 and $330,000 a year. That middle guess comes out $89 an hour per developer.

Development Costs for Kubernetes, Docker, etcd and rkt

Estimated Average Salary $55,000 $165,000 $330,000
Total Development Cost  $40,072,777  $120,218,331  $240,436,662
Cost per Hour (1,356,550
total hours) 
 $30  $89  $177

All of these figures still seem extremely low, almost chump change for those familiar with the world of enterprise IT. Don’t be fooled. The numbers do not take into consideration all the marketing, administration, risk, profit margin, et cetera that gets loaded into the final price of a project. And that doesn’t even take into consideration how much manpower it takes to install, customize and operate each deployment. That is where the real money, if not the profit, is.

CoreOS and Docker are sponsors of The New Stack.

Feature image via Pixabay.

Participate in The New Stack surveys and be the first to receive the results of our original research.