Rancher Labs extended support for its container management software to a trio of Chinese Kubernetes platform providers: Tencent, Alibaba Cloud, and Huawei. The company now supports the six largest Kubernetes providers in the world.
Shannon Williams, co-founder and vice president of sales and marketing at Rancher Labs, in an email explained that the support required Rancher Labs to add specific APIs, provisioning mechanisms, and to conduct implementation testing of Kubernetes that each cloud provider has developed. The integration will be part of the next Rancher platform update scheduled for early next year.
That platform allows users to configure the number of nodes in a cluster; provides a centralized user authentication across on-premises and cloud-hosted clusters; and provides for consistent policy and enforcement and a standardized user experience across cloud deployments.
Williams said that the latest integration was important because China has become Rancher Labs’ second most important market in terms of adoption of its platform.
“It’s hard not to overstate how fast it is growing,” Williams said. “Based on data we get from users, not only is China the second largest country for consumption of Rancher in the world, but it also has some of the largest deployments.”
Rancher Labs went all-in on Kubernetes with the 2.0 update to its Rancher platform last year. That move had Rancher Labs ditching support for Docker Inc.’s Swarm container orchestrator in favor of Kubernetes.
The company early last month rolled out the 2.1 version of its platform. It included automatic cluster operations and application management functionalities and a migration path for users moving from Rancher’s legacy Cattle orchestrator to Rancher Kubernetes.
Rancher Labs competes against a growing number of hosted Kubernetes offerings. These include platforms from Docker Inc., Red Hat, and Mesosphere. These platforms are all focused on offering Kubernetes-orchestrated container services that work in a multi-cloud environment. This allows them to be somewhat unique to more specific platforms hosted by cloud providers. Those would include something like Google’s Kubernetes Engine (GKE) that is tied just to containers running on Google’s Cloud Platform (GCP).
Rancher Labs differentiates itself from those direct rivals by offerings support for both self-hosted Kubernetes deployments, or those that an organization is in full control over, and cloud-hosted clusters that run in a multi-cloud environment.
The market itself is also being impacted by recent consolidation.
Paul Fazzone, senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s Cloud Native Apps Business Unit, said the Heptio acquisition was based on growing Kubernetes demand from enterprise customers. He said the company sees Kubernetes as being the basis for cloud-native and cloud-agnostic infrastructure.
That deal followed on the heels of IBM acquiring Red Hat for $34 billion. IBM’s management repeatedly cited Red Hat’s multi-cloud and container focus in support of the purchase. Red Hat itself earlier this year boosted its own container and Kubernetes operations through the $250 million acquisition of CoreOS.
“The market has really heated up this year, and clearly that is what’s driving the acquisitions,” Williams said. “I’ve had a half-dozen customers tell me in the last month they see containerization and Kubernetes as the single most strategic project/platform in their company, and the future of their cloud strategy. It is certainly not surprising that companies are acquiring teams with strong container knowledge.”
Williams understandably passed on offering any insight into Rancher Labs’ own future. But he did note that Rancher Labs alone added 27 new customers during the third quarter, with nearly all part of the Fortune 500.