Many companies face obstacles when migrating to Kubernetes to address skills shortages and knowing what are the best tools to use. Choozle, a web-based platform, found itself in this predicament several years ago and found that Mirantis was the right option for them to navigate them through these challenges and help them scale and grow.
In this episode of TFiR Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Mike Baldassare III, Director of Product And Engineering Operations at Choozle and Anoop Kumar, Senior Director, Global Professional Services at Mirantis, to discuss why Choozle picked Mirantis for its cloud needs and how Mirantis is helping them.
Introduction to Choozle
Choozle is a web-based platform which was founded in 2013 when ad tech was just getting started. Their platform enables small to medium-sized businesses and advertising agencies to execute campaigns across multiple content, such as a video display on the New York Times. Baldassare explains that while these tools are typically reserved for enterprise-level customers, they would like to make it accessible for small and medium businesses to help them grow.
Why did Choozle pick Mirantis for its cloud needs?
The nature of advertising requires platforms with high availability so that clients can log in to the platform at a minute’s notice to make adjustments. For this reason, Baldassare tells us that they decided to go with Kubernetes to create the platform and this is where they started using Mirantis Lens as a way to onboard mid-level engineers where they did not have to run Kubernetes from the command line. From this point, Choozle and Mirantis formed a good partnership where they were able to execute a major infrastructure change on Choozle’s end deployment.
Choozle had initially done Kubernetes as their infrastructure but it was built before they had looked into a solution like EKS in AWS. Baldassare explains that they had wanted to move to the equivalent on Google Cloud, GKE, and this is why Mirantis was on the list to use because of their Lens product. He believes the decision to migrate to a more modern cloud infrastructure with the auto optimizations that Google applies to the cluster has been successful.
Mirantis Lens helps eliminate the complexity of Kubernetes
Mirantis Lens eliminates a lot of the complexity within Kubernetes, since Kubernetes is an enormous tool and most developers do not want to learn another tool as they already need to stay up-to-date with many different technologies, frameworks, version numbers, incompatibilities and much more.
Kumar explains that they want to provide customers with guidance to ensure they know what to use and what makes sense for that particular use case. Mirantis has over 10 years experience working in the DevOps field, and they understand how to help customers navigate the complexity towards success.
What sets Mirantis ahead of its competition?
Baldassare feels like they had really a clear partnership throughout the entire process and that they had support from Mirantis every step of the way making sure they felt comfortable with the option they had presented. He believes Mirantis had taken the time to understand Choozle’s sort of legacy infrastructure. He explains that they had signed up for a newer product that Mirantis was offering at the time, DevOps care, which had one year of support services which Baldassare says really attracted them to Mirantis.
How does Mirantis work with customers?
Kumar explains that Mirantis tries to look at the big picture, identifying where customers are in their DevOps journey and plotting where they want to be at various points in the future. They also look carefully at what obstacles are standing the customer’s way from achieving those goals. Kumar feels that this is where Mirantis shines, having worked with thousands of customers in various stages of the journey, they have seen their particular challenges and know which solution is right for them.
Baldassare agrees with Kumar, saying that having Mirantis say that what they wanted to achieve was doable was a big vote of confidence. Although they were not able to accelerate the timelines on some of the projects due to outside constraints, it ended up paying off in the end. He reiterates how grateful he is today with where they are at.
What are the key challenges organizations are facing?
One of key challenges Mirantis sees customers experiencing is complexity, with Kubernetes but also with the CNCF technology itself. The current skills shortage is exacerbating this problem and the way Mirantis is approaching this is by automating as much as possible and choosing tools that they feel are the best of the breed.
Kumar explains that Mirantis Lens’ extension feature means they can build the extensions and make it easy for customers to deploy them in their cluster. By doing this, customers do not have to know the underlying technology and Mirantis is able to change things if they see fit.
Mirantis also leverages the experts they have in various technologies, whether that is Windows containers, containerization, or image governance security. These experts service multiple customers at the same time, helping them to scale as many customers and make it a useful service for them.
How is Choozle dealing with the skill shortage?
Baldassare recalls when they were looking to migrate they were searching for experienced DevOps candidates, primarily looking for someone local in Denver, CO. Luckily, Kumar was able to bring in a number of experts who helped them to navigate the migration. However, they were able to bring in a software engineer with a theoretical understanding of Kubernetes but not much working experience and with the help of Mirantis Lens, the DevOps Care subscription, and the support team at Mirantis they were able to onboard that software engineer into the Kubernetes landscape.
Baldassare feels that Mirantis has been able to take the complexity out of Kubernetes enough that they are now seeing other software engineers on their team. He feels that they have enough proficiency on the team to meet some of those challenges with talent shortages.
Training is critical to tackling the skills shortage problem
Training forms an integral role in tackling the skills shortage problem. Kumar explains that the service Choozle took had a training component in it. He tells us that it is a managed service with the product whereby they ensure the developers are trained on Kubernetes technologies with hands-on exercises and where they can reach out to the instructor.
Developers can also get certified in Kubernetes, DevOps, or other cloud certifications in order to prove their credentials to the teams. They also focus on incremental improvements with a metrics dashboard and every month they focus on one person of interest which brings about a lot of improvement not only to the individual but to the team overall.
How Mirantis helps customers navigate the CNCF landscape
The CNCF landscape has approximately a thousand different technologies, which is impossible for any organization to understand all of them. Kumar explains that this is where AI experts come in who keep a lookout for these technologies and understand which technologies have been working for which customers. Mirantis’ rich ecosystem partners have also made products even better, still remaining open source.
Baldassare discusses how the close partnership with Mirantis comes into play, with Kumar actively reaching out to Choozle when they have a new potential technology. He explains how valuable it is to be able to lean on their expertise so that they can continue to focus on delivering value to their customers.
Connect with Mike Baldassare III (LinkedIn)
Connect with Anoop Kumar (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Learn more about Choozle (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Learn more about Mirantis (LinkedIn, Twitter)
The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.