Heptio launched an open source initiative to help manage the flow of traffic into hybrid cloud environments that include multiple Kubernetes clusters and traditional infrastructure technologies like OpenStack.
Heptio worked with Yahoo Japan subsidiary Actapio on the Gimbal project. That initial work focused on infusing Kubernetes into Yahoo Japan’s infrastructure that already included an OpenStack architecture. This is becoming a common request by enterprises looking to merge legacy systems with container platforms.
“We approached Heptio to help us modernize our infrastructure with Kubernetes without ripping out legacy investments in OpenStack and other backend systems,” said Norifumi Matsuya, CEO and president at Actapio, in a statement. “Application delivery at scale is key to our business. We needed faster service discovery and canary deployment capability that provides instant rollback and performance measurement.”
Vendors have been aggressively targeting this space, noting many of their large enterprise customers are struggling to deploy containers and Kubernetes into production environments. Both IBM and Cisco in the past few months have rolled out platforms looking to bridge this gap.
What is Gimbal?
The Gimbal initiative is at its heart a load-balancing platform that manages web traffic across backend applications. It’s built on Kubernetes so it can run on commodity infrastructure instead of proprietary systems needed by traditional load balancers. It also uses Kubernetes’ native role based access control (RBAC) and an extensible API to allow an organization to manage the platform.
Routing and policy configurations are managed by Heptio’s Contour platform. That platform is a Kubernetes controller that uses Envoy, which is a Lyft-developed proxy that makes the network transparent to applications. Envoy is also the basis for the Istio project that provides visibility into microservices without the need to change application code.
Gimbal also provides metrics that are compatible with Prometheus for monitoring and alerts. Prometheus is a container-monitoring platform that collects metrics from configured services at specific intervals, evaluates that data to established rules, produces results, and triggers an alarm if a specified rule is part of those results.
Gimbal is cloud agnostic and can handle traffic for bare metal and on-premises environments. The initial version of the platform supports Kubernetes deployments beginning with the 1.7 release and initial OpenStack support beginning with the Mitaka release. Support for Amazon EC2 and VMware are in the works. The initial Gimbal release is also focused on environments with routable container networks, with plans to add support for overlay or other restricted networking environments.
Heptio Likes Kubernetes
Heptio from its inception has had a close relationship with Kubernetes. It formed in late 2016 under the guise of making the Kubernetes platform more accessible to developers running apps on premises or in the public cloud.
Heptio CEO Craig McLuckie and CTO Joe Beda were part of the initial Kubernetes team at Google. Kubernetes began as Google’s Borg platform before being spun out into the open source community. It currently resides inside the Linux Foundation’s Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
Heptio last September scored $25 million in Series B funding, which was added to the $8.5 million it attracted as part of its founding. Beda at that time said the firm planned to accelerate growth and begin looking beyond just Kubernetes in supporting enterprises as they move into the hybrid cloud environment.
Heptio earlier this year launched a container distribution that used a “true open source” version of Kubernetes.