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GigaOm Key Criteria for Evaluating Managed Kubernetes Solutionsv4.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision-Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Managed Kubernetes Sector Brief
  3. Decision Criteria Analysis
  4. Analyst’s Take

1. Executive Summary

Kubernetes has become the dominant technology for orchestrating container-based software deployments outside of specific cloud environments. Developers, especially those accustomed to cloud deployments, now prefer to build applications using containers. Kubernetes provides a common and well-understood approach to managing those deployments for self-managed infrastructure.

What started with low-risk, non-critical, exploratory applications at a small scale has now moved to large-scale adoption for business-critical applications. Kubernetes has similarly moved from smaller proof-of-concept implementations to critical infrastructure supporting these microservices-based applications.

Yet, Kubernetes remains a complex platform to operate and one that is continuously changing. Updates are relatively frequent, providing bug fixes and new features, though the pace has slowed somewhat as Kubernetes matures as a platform. For IT organizations accustomed to the relative stability and slower-paced change of more established platforms, this complexity and rate of change presents significant challenges.

Business Imperative
The reality is that most organizations are not prepared for the operational demands of the complex and constantly changing ecosystem that Kubernetes represents. Managing existing workload demands is already a challenge without the additional burden of learning new skills. Organizations are therefore faced with a difficult choice: reject Kubernetes completely and compromise developers’ desire to use microservices patterns, muddle through on their own as best they can with what they have, or look for outside assistance.

A managed Kubernetes service is an attractive way to shift the operational burden of maintaining Kubernetes and its ecosystem away from the internal IT team. Managed services are a known quantity commonly used in other areas of enterprises today.

There are multiple managed Kubernetes options to choose from, and the choice is made easier by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s early move to define a standard for Kubernetes interoperability. This standard helped to reduce the risk of Kubernetes splintering into multiple competing and incompatible variants, as in the early Unix market and later with Linux distributions. The core of Kubernetes is the same on all standard-compliant options, which differentiate themselves based on value-added features and functions.

Sector Adoption Score
To help executives and decision-makers assess the potential impact and value of a managed Kubernetes solution deployment to the business, this GigaOm Key Criteria report provides a structured assessment of the managed Kubernetes sector across five factors: benefit, maturity, urgency, impact, and effort. By scoring each factor based on how strongly it compels or deters adoption of managed Kubernetes, we provide an overall Sector Adoption Score for managed Kubernetes of 3.4 out of 5, with 5 indicating the strongest possible recommendation to adopt. This indicates that managed Kubernetes is a credible candidate for deployment and worth thoughtful consideration.

The factors contributing to the Sector Adoption Score for managed Kubernetes are explained in more detail in the Sector Brief section that follows.

Key Criteria for Evaluating Managed Kubernetes Solutions

Sector Adoption Score







Figure 1. Sector Adoption Score for Managed Kubernetes

This is the fourth year that GigaOm has reported on the managed Kubernetes space in the context of our Key Criteria and Radar reports. This report builds on our previous analysis and considers how the market has evolved over the last year.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report highlights the capabilities (table stakes, key features, and emerging features) and non-functional requirements (business criteria) for selecting an effective managed Kubernetes solution. The companion GigaOm Radar report identifies vendors and products that excel in those capabilities and metrics. Together, these reports provide an overview of the category and its underlying technology, identify leading managed Kubernetes offerings, and help decision-makers evaluate these solutions so they can make a more informed investment decision.


The GigaOm Key Criteria report provides a detailed decision framework for IT and executive leadership assessing enterprise technologies. Each report defines relevant functional and non-functional aspects of solutions in a sector. The Key Criteria report informs the GigaOm Radar report, which provides a forward-looking assessment of vendor solutions in the sector.