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A Vendor Neutral Course For Kubernetes Data Management By Kasten

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Cloud Native Computing technologies like Kubernetes are moving into production and there is a growing gap between supply and demand of talented people who can help companies embrace these new technologies. There are many efforts going on in the industry to bridge this gap. Kasten by Veeam announced a new set of courses at KubeCon NA 2021 to help the community, in the special issue of Let’s Talk Kubernetes, Michael Cade, Senior Global Technologist at Kasten by Veeam joined us to talk about this course.

One thing that’s clear is that it’s not a vendor-specific course, “We are trying to stay away from a Kasten K10 focus, but to look more around data management, storage, data services and so on because we think that there’s a gap in the market around that,” said Cade.

Topics we covered:

  • What kind of adoption of Kubernetes and other Cloud Native Computing technologies is Kasten seeing in the market, to better understand the gap between supply and demand of talented people.
  • While new cultural paradigms like DevOps were meant to break the old silos, and create a flat structure for tech teams, it seems we have created new silos still focussed on certain skill sets, where it’s DevOps, DevSecOps, NetOps and so on…
  • Discussion on Kasten by Veeam’s new education program and is it designed for Kasten-specific products or vendor-neutral data management technologies.
  • Who is the target audience of this course – advanced users, expert beginners who do work in tech fields but may not be well versed with the nuances of these technologies.
  • Who can take this course – is it US specific or global?

Guest: Michael Cade (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Company: Kasten by Veeam, (Twitter)

Michael Cade is a community first technologist for Kasten by Veeam. Based in the UK with over 16 years of industry experience with a key focus on technologies such as cloud native, automation & data management. His role at Kasten is to act as a technical thought leader, community champion and project owner to engage with the community to enable influencers and customers to overcome the challenges of Cloud Native Data Management and be successful, speaking at events sharing the technical vision and corporate strategy whilst providing ongoing feedback from the field into product management to shape the future success.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host, Swapnil Bhartiya. And welcome to Let’s Talk about Kubernetes. It’s a special series for KubeCon, and my next guest is Michael Cade, Senior Global Technologist at Kasten by Veeam. Michael, it’s great to have you back on the show.

Michael Cade: Yeah, awesome to be here. Thanks for having me.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And today we are going to talk about one of the pressing problems in the ecosystem, which is more or less about, there are… these technologies are so new, sometimes it’s hard to find talented people. So what I want to know from you, since you folks are there right in the middle of this growing adoption and deployment of Kubernetes, first of all, tell me what kind of adoption you are seeing which kind of makes you think, hey, there is a challenge where people, they struggle with knowing about these technologies so that we can discuss about the gap in learning and knowledge base? But before that, I want to understand the adoption rate because when it’s being adopted at a company, like… This is a joke… Google, they are tech companies. They have all the tech infrastructure, they have all the people. But then there are a lot of other companies who are embracing and adopting it and they struggle there. So talk about the adoption that you’re seeing there.

Michael Cade: I think the biggest thing here is that we’ve seen this before in technology, in the industry, whether it was a flip from physical to virtualization, whether it was just the exchange administration from a mail point of view, people understanding what an ISO firewall does and how to configure it. But now we’re talking about like that coming together of developers, operations, infrastructure, security, and bringing all of these people and skill sets into one. And I think that’s the key area is that we’re not just changing one element of this, we’re bringing in a potential new platform, but we’re bringing in a different process. We’re bringing in a completely new platform, but then ways of being able to do or deliver an application, or being able to deliver a platform. So that’s where things like infrastructure as code, configuration management, CI/CD pipelines, just understanding a programming language.

And no one’s expected to be an out-and-out master at all of these, but having that understanding or foundational knowledge is at least what we’re leaning into to begin with so that we are not having that same issue maybe that we saw in the data center around silos. So by being an exchange admin, you only knew everything that went on with the mission-critical application exchange, and you didn’t necessarily know what the infrastructure it lived on, you didn’t know what the platform, you just knew exchange. You knew how to get onto exchange, and you knew how to manage that. And that was a very siloed approach even from a data center point of view. We’ve changed the way that looks and how that feels from a virtualization and now cloud-based and office 365 from a SaaS-based.

But now if we get into like what we are doing around DevOps and Platform Ops, then you’ve got that challenge around now we need a foundational knowledge of all these different approaches so that we can at least understand what is coming potentially over the hill. And like you say, Google are already doing this, and a lot of the Fortune 500, 1000 are all doing this as well. So we know that this wave is coming and it’s coming very fast, but there is that gap, there’s that skills gap that we need to help just give that understanding. It seems very daunting. Anyone that wants to learn a new thing, whether it’s learning a language… I’m terrible at that… but learn a new language, learning something new, there’s two ways to look at it, it’s either very daunting or people embrace it and people want that.

Now, in order for the platform and this process and this culture to live on and advance and evolve, then we need people to be skilled up in this area so that we can all, together as a community, move forward as well.

So maybe a bit of a long-winded answer, but hopefully that gives a bit of my perspective on that as well.

Swapnil Bhartiya: No, thanks for sharing that perspective because that’s the whole point, to understand what’s going on in industry. You also talked about in old days there used to be silos, but if you look at even today’s modern cloud-native world, I feel I still see silos. We still have people who are security people, we still have people who are networking people. We do see DevOps, but we have silos. We still talk about developers and operators, even if we do talk about the DevOps. So when we do talk about skill sets, there are still people who still specialize in that particular area. Plus, as you also mentioned, that things can become daunting, overwhelming. And if you look at just cloud-native logos that are there, there are different projects that cater to a specific problem. There are projects around service management, there are NetOps, that they’re…  So while we have broken down old silos, we still have soft silos, and those are not going away because we still talk about, hey, security teams are doing that. And once again, the point is not that those silos are done on purpose, it’s because people’s skill sets aren’t in that particular area. So how do you look at that problem that we are trying to break some silos? Do you see that we have broken down silos and they’re all gone? Or do you see that we are creating new one?

Michael Cade: No, no, absolutely not. And we’ll go back to your example around like if you’re a security specialist and you are either concentrating on the prevention or the remediation of access control into your data center or whatever the infrastructure that you are looking after the environment. There’s no reason why… And some security professionals will absolutely want to stay within those swimlanes, and that’s absolutely fine. But by having an understanding of different areas of the environment will only enable you to have a better overview of what the security requirements would be within that environment as well. So I completely agree, these DevOps engineers don’t just spawn out of the ground and they know a bit of everything, but we all come from a background within technology, potentially technology somewhere. Like for me, I come from an operational background. I come from virtualization and storage and a lot around data management. But I know equally people from the security space, from the networking space that are also now talking the same language around CI/CD pipelines, about GitOps, about networking, foundational networking, about infrastructure as code.

So I don’t think we’re ever going to knock down the walls of the education silos, but I think it’s becoming more of an accepted thing that any engineer in this space can learn about anything. And I think that can seem daunting, but I think it also seems very exciting as well because when you start to get perspective from different people in different skill sets and different backgrounds, that becomes a huge… it opens your eyes. If you’ve been just concentrating on one thing for your whole career and someone else looks in and goes, “Well, why are you doing it like that? Why don’t you do it this way?” Well, that’s how we evolve, and that’s how we make things better and evolve.

Swapnil Bhartiya: There are a lot of courses in the industry, people are trying to solve this problem, CNCF, they themselves, they have tons of content out there. But here is the interesting theme that when you look at any of these Open Source technologies, when you look at upstream code, it’s different. But when you go to a vendor… Because these things are not… You’re using like LAMP stack, that PHP is doing their own thing, Linux is doing their… You have to work together, so that becomes even more challenging. So no matter how much you want it to be vanilla, it doesn’t remain that way. So sometime it has to be either vendor-specific or product-specific. And when you’re working in production, you’re not working in upstream, you’re working with a specific version of it. So let’s talk about what is Kasten by Veeam doing in this space to help users, and not only just to help Veeam and Kasten customers, but also in a way ecosystem so that people know about these technologies or products.

Michael Cade:Yeah. So from a Kasten point of view, so we’ve just launched learning.kasten.io, and the key focus there is an ongoing way of being able to help that learning journey. So whether you are a novice, whether you are an intermediate, or whether you are a pro… And each of us will put ourselves into different buckets there as well as to where we think we are within that scope, but really the idea around that is being able to focus on three things to begin with. Like we have a roadmap and we know what we want it to look like. And again, to your point around vendor-specific focus areas is that we are trying to stay away from maybe a K10 focus, a Kasten K10 focus, but to look more around data management, around storage, around data services, because we think that there’s a gap in the market around that. Not so much a gap in the market in terms of like commercial, but a gap in the market around education, around persistent volumes, around storage, around how do we couple up the data service and the storage configuration.

So really going back to what we’ve done at learning.kasten is we’ve put a load of our resources together, but the three key areas are our three different labs. One is a lab that builds your first Kubernetes cluster in an isolated environment that maybe not everyone is comfortable or familiar with how you can do that on your own laptop or your desktop machine, or even to spin up in the public cloud, because that ends up costing money. So we’ve given a platform for you to actually go and be able to walk through some theory, get some understanding of what Kubernetes is as a foundation level, and then go and build it, get some hands on. And it is a fully hands on lab as well. It’s not us dictating what you can do in this lab, so you can play around with the things like kubectl, and you can get to grips with that outside of having to potentially mess up your desktop machine, which I think is the biggest worry, because I’ve been through that as well.

And then maybe that gives you the confidence to then bring that into your laptop and use things like kind, so Kubernetes in Docker, use minikube, use k3d, or local Kubernetes options. But what we are doing is we’re hopefully trying to educate and put what seems to be very complex into the hands of the community so that they can learn with hands on, which is generally how a lot of us practitioners learn.

And then the second lab is focused on data services. So we talk about a lot about data services, MySQL, Postgres, Mongo, Kafka. Well, what the second lab allows us to do is actually spin up… So we’ve created our cluster, then it’s about how do we create that stateful workload? What does stateful actually mean and what does it look like from a theory point of view? And then we get hands on again, where we start to look at, okay, how do we create a persistent volume and a persistent volume claim? What does that actually mean? What does it do? Then we deploy our MySQL application and we couple those together, and we actually now have a MySQL deployment. Which seems, for me, coming from operational background where I touched on very high level databases in virtualization and in the cloud, that seems quite foundational to me. But I appreciate that.

Not everyone has even looked at databases, so we need to educate how… If you come from a database background or you come from a DBA background, and now you’re being told that you’re going to have to manage this database service that is now on a new platform that you’ve never seen before, what does that look like? Without you being thrown in a deep end, how can we help? How can we help educate you in that space and give you some hands on to that?

And then the third lab is, in exactly the same way from a virtualization point of view or a physical point of view with that database, how do we protect that? Because one of the things that I’m a massive advocate for is data management. It’s always the last thing on anyone’s list. It’s always the boring backup. It’s always bottom of the list, but we know that it’s a necessity. We know that in every news, article, whether it’s ransomware, because that’s the gory details, or whether it’s just fire, flood, or blood like type accidental deletion, we know that data management is a key criteria to protecting our workload and protecting our data. So that’s the third lab is where we use Kasten K10 to protect that workload and then restore that workload as well.

So there’s three labs to begin with, plus a load of session, reports, white papers, blogs, et cetera, that you can sift through and get a better understanding. And the reason for that as well, just going back to the whole learning journey is people learn different. For me, I’m all over videos, podcasts like this, listening into someone potentially while I’m doing something else. And then also I’ve got colleagues and friends that are more about the reading and getting deep into white papers and resources that way as well, or potentially a physical book. Everyone learns differently in that aspect. So this is really our first endeavor is to enable the community to understand a little bit more about stateful workloads, data services, and storage and data management in our cloud-native space.

Swapnil Bhartiya: When we look at these educational program, you did allude to that, but I just want to go a bit deeper into that. Number one is, who is the target audience? Because they are… I look at two kind of people, and you also briefly touched upon that. One is that pure novices or greenhorn who are just coming to this and they look at all these technologies, and as you also said, it could be daunting as well. And then there are people who are in this [inaudible 00:15:11], but things are changing so fast that they cannot keep up, and I’m talking about middle managers, I’m talking even about your bosses. There are a lot of [inaudible 00:15:19] where people say, “Hey, no, let’s use Kubernetes container and go to cloud and run the business.” None of them understand anything about any of these terms. So who is the target audience with this educational courses?
Michael Cade: So really exactly what you say, everyone, everyone really, and who it’s relevant to. You could be an absolute Kubernetes pro, been doing it for the last six, seven years since pre-version one, or very, very early days, right? And actually, you may never have touched stateful workloads. You may have never touched a database on Kubernetes because back in the version one day or very early… Sorry, we’re still in version 1.22… So very early on in the [inaudible 00:16:06] days, is that very much it was deemed that Kubernetes was there built for web services, stateless workloads that can spin up, spin down, scale up, scale out. And if you are in that space, you might be an absolute veteran and pro in the fundamentals, the architecture around Kubernetes, but now your business requires that level of state and that application data, that data services, those MySQL databases. And it might be that, okay, you’ve probably, at that point, got access to a test and dev environment where you can go and at least play around because you’ve got the understanding of that, and we know that there’s hundreds of resources out there to see that.

Now what we are trying to do there for that pro is walk you down that line of this is a data service, and this is why, and this is how it’s deployed. And then more to the point is, okay, you know the architecture, you know everything about it. We’ve built it together, or we haven’t, you’ve just come into this lab, but how do we protect it? Because protecting a workload in Kubernetes and protecting that database, or data service I should keep saying, is potentially… or, it is very different to what it looks like in the cloud or in virtualization.

But then on the flip to that is, if we go all the way back to the new person, the rookie who’s never ever deployed Kubernetes, because ultimately they’ve seen Kubernetes, but they’re a little bit wary of that. Because one, do I want to waste my time? Is it another OpenStack? Although viable solution out there that I’m not calling out anything bad with OpenStack, but is it going to go the same way? Like I put a lot of effort and resources myself into learning a lot about OpenStack and it didn’t really come to fruition for me. Now, some people obviously are doing great things there. So people are looking at that angle. So do I need to understand more about this Kubernetes stuff? Is it going to be around in years to come? Blah, blah, blah.

And I think this is where we want to give a very easy touch to those rookies that if it doesn’t go anywhere, you’ve not wasted any time. Honestly, these three labs will take you one hour each with the theory involved, that’s three hours of your time. You can come back and do the theory to begin with and then go and do the hands on piece. But honestly, I’ve walked through them. I’ve done videos, very short videos, 20 minutes long that walk you through what the labs are achieving. And that’s it, that’s the investment just to have an understanding. And I don’t know if I can promise, but I will say that when you go through these three labs, there’s going to be a similarity to what you’ve been doing, whatever that may be, even if you’ve just been using your laptop in school, there’s going to be some similarities to what and how you piece that together. From a virtualization point of view, there’s a lot of terminology that is used and concepts that are used in the virtualization world that we absolutely see in Kubernetes, but they’re potentially worded different.

So this is about correlation, this is about enabling anyone and everyone in between to get on this learning journey.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Once again, thank you for explaining that in depth. Now, who can take these educational courses? Is it global? Is it just for US-centric? Plus, language barrier, if you want to make it global, do you plan to offer it in different languages? Just talk about the scope of the course.

Michael Cade: So, yeah, first and foremost, it’s global. Everything is written, I believe, in English, but I’d be really open to feedback on that one. Like if this needs to be in different languages, native languages, please let us know because that is absolutely something we can adapt the platform to be able to be better suited for. So feedback is the most… In fact, I would say that, overall, feedback is the most important thing here, because it’s for everyone. It’s for the community on how it’s consumed, how it’s used. We’ve had a great uptake so far, but we need that to continue. So what are the next stages? What would you want to see? What are we missing? Is there too much theory? Is there not enough hands on because that will scope out what we need it to look like in the future.

So global, anyone can sign up. Anyone can register at learning.kasten.io, very short form to fill in to get you access. It’s badged, so anyone that likes the gamification aspect of learning, then there are badges for each of the labs that you complete. And then a final badge when you’ve completed all three. We want to make it as interactive as possible. There is a Slack channel where that feedback can be live. I’m set in there as well as my colleagues on the team. All of that is really important to us, and we’ve already got plans for where we go next. And again, it’s focusing more around that storage element and what happens there. So…

Swapnil Bhartiya: Michael, thank you so much for taking time out today and talk about [inaudible 00:21:38] actually more importantly touch upon the problem areas, that is more important for the larger ecosystem. And then, of course, what the whole ecosystem community and Kasten by Veeam is doing to address some of those issues. This is a big problem, it’ll take time. People problem is more challenging than the technical problem, always. But thanks for sharing those insights, thanks for sharing about the courses. And as you said, it can be translated anywhere. So people who are interested in it, they can of course go ahead contact so that it can be made available in the local languages as well. But overall, thank you for your time today. And I look forward to our next conversation.

Michael Cade: Awesome. Thanks for having me.

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