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Knative Trifecta: Kubernetes, Serverless and Istio Service-mesh

August 8, 2018

Trifecta: a variation of the perfecta in which a bettor wins by selecting the first three finishers of a race in the correct order of finish source

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Last week Google, together with IBM, Red Hat, SAP and Pivotal, among others, announced the release of Knative, an open-source framework to run serverless and service-mesh architecture. This is the same framework that Google used to release its recent GKE serverless add-on.

According to Google, Knative has the potential to redefine how serverless computing can be used to build cloud architectures and expand the use of the serverless genre beyond mere functions.

Knative is built upon Kubernetes and Istio, an open source service mesh tool, and is aimed to target different personas including developers, Ops teams and cloud providers. With Knative, these users can benefit from three main advantages of cloud-native development: building, scaling and managing containers and functions all in one platform. The platform also provides built-in templates for ease of use.

In addition to Knative, Google recently also announced the general availability of Google Cloud Functions, allowing developers to run serverless containers on Google Cloud, without worrying about the infrastructure operations. These two recent announcements in conjunction with one another show us a clear path to where Google is placing its bets – on serverless computing – and the benefits these announcements will have on the developer community.

Google’s Bet on Serverless

Knative is expected to facilitate a better and more collaborative use of containers and serverless, bringing all the developer’s benefits into their own comfort zone.  Essentially, ”It enables developers to focus just on writing interesting code, without worrying about the ‘boring but difficult’ parts of building, deploying, and managing an application,” as Google said.


Image: from Knative GitHub repo


With Knative, Google is trying to replicate its success with Kubernetes, making it the de-facto tool for running functions. In other words, Google is betting on serverless.



The Power of One

Knative is a clear indication of where the market is headed, and the progress it has made since the introduction of containerized apps. The unification of all the tools (Istio, Kubernetes, Serverless) in one consolidated platform, combined with the rights personas (dev, Ops and cloud providers), is inevitable, and proves the maturation of the cloud market.

Here are some of the immediate benefits that we see with the introduction of Knative:

  1. A consolidated platform that brings together Kubernetes, serverless and service-mesh, meaning developers can focus on what they like (and want!) to do, without the hassle of the underlying network.
  2. Serverless is here to stay. In the recent Gartner’s Security and Risk Summit held in Maryland in June, distinguished analyst Neil MacDonald discussed the fact that Serverless is on the horizon, as more and more clients are asking about it. Not surprising is also the fact that serverless was the most searched topic at the AWS Summit NY held in mid-July, where Alcide also participated.
  3. Multi-cloud strategy with no vendor or cloud provider lock in. Gone are the days when you had to commit to one vendor or cloud provider. With Knative, developers can enjoy portability of different FaaS platforms without spending time building the fundamentals.


Bottom Line

All in all, Knative is a promising platform with an interesting approach. Building a developer experience combined with great flexibility is at the cornerstone of the Knative offering and indicates the necessary steps Google has taken in order to support its developers’ community. It will be interesting to see how fast the market adopts it. 

Read more: Kubernetes Security, Serverless Security


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