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Key Criteria for Evaluating Managed Kubernetes Solutionsv3.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision-Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Managed Kubernetes Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Metrics
  6. Key Criteria: Impact Analysis
  7. Analyst’s Take

1. Summary

Enterprise application developers have been using microservices approaches for several years now. What started with low-risk, non-critical, exploratory applications at a small scale has now moved to large-scale adoption in business-critical applications. Similarly, Kubernetes has 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 pace of change of more established platforms, this complexity and rate of change presents significant challenges. Keeping up-to-date with the latest version of Kubernetes, including security patches, is a significant operations burden on its own. When the substantial project ecosystem surrounding Kubernetes is included in updates, the operational challenge can overwhelm otherwise capable IT teams.

The reality is that most organizations are not prepared to work at this pace for a sustained period of time. 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 (likely a career-limiting move), 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 on value-added features and functions.

In this report, we analyze the important features of managed Kubernetes systems to determine how well they align with enterprise needs and provide guidance for organizations looking to evaluate the options against their own specific requirements.

The GigaOm Key Criteria and Radar reports provide an overview of the managed Kubernetes market, identify capabilities (table stakes, key criteria, and emerging technology) and evaluation metrics (non-functional purchase drivers) for selecting a managed Kubernetes solution, and detail vendors and products that excel. These reports give prospective buyers an overview of the top vendors in this sector and help decision-makers evaluate solutions and decide where to invest.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.