Ondat SaaS Platform: Management and Automation for Stateful Kubernetes Storage

4/11/2021
James Brown
demo

With the early preview release of our new SaaS later this month, we are making the first major step in the transition from StorageOS to Ondat. 

But we are not trying to “change the paradigm” of Kubernetes storage with a bold new cloud interface. Ready-baked, paradigm-changing solutions are (quite rightly) viewed with skepticism in the world of modern DevOps. But also, no one in the Kube-native world really wants to have to bother much about storage: they want to get it set up correctly, and then automate it out of the way. So we are approaching the new SaaS platform from a more humble place.  

It’s not that we don’t have a bold vision. We aim for the Ondat SaaS platform to become two things: 

  • Firstly, the ultimate platform for DevOps engineers to implement, automate, monitor, manage and update the delivery of Persistent Volumes into an estate of containerized applications running on Kube. 
  • Secondly, the most simple, self-service marketplace for developers to access ‘golden image’ containers for all their favorite stateful apps, with the storage done right.

We have the underlying architecture in place, but we think the key is in the implementation. For us, being Kube native means working with the tools people already have, not giving them more. It means taking blockages, problems, and complexity from the right side of the development chain and shifting this left, through automation, not through giving platform engineers a shiny new window full of worries.   

We already have the best performing and most resilient architecture for delivering persistent storage in Kube. This side of the product goes from strength to strength, and we have a healthy roadmap and a new release due soon. But what our customers now want is a single portal to monitor and manage persistent storage in multiple clusters around the globe.  

To do this, we are deliberately launching a minimum viable product, so that we can engage the community of developers and platform engineers. But also, the only way to really achieve our vision is to co-develop the finished platform together with users: answering their real needs, fitting in around the way they actually work and the tools they work with. So, Ondat will be releasing our SaaS platform in three phases:

Phase One is the monitoring stage. We are giving users the ability to connect all of their Kubernetes clusters into the SaaS platform for a unified view of exactly which applications are using Persistent Volumes, where, and to see exactly how these are configured. 

PersistentVolume_Details_1-cropped

But we are absolutely not giving Kube platform engineers their umpteenth “single-pane-of-glass” to solve all of their problems through the new magic of observability. First up, the SaaS platform is a hub to gather and monitor this data: if customers want to view this in existing tools we will work with them to build the necessary integration. But once we have our early adopter community, we will be taking them rapidly into the next phase.

Phase Two is switching on “control”. This will make it possible to configure and change persistent storage, and add-in new sources. It will also allow users to manage their workloads wherever they reside. This is the real interface for Ondat’s vision of dynamically connecting any persistent storage to any Kubernetes cluster.

We have the SaaS architecture up and running, but we feel it is essential to work with pilot users to implement this in a way that fits with their preferred workflows and the host of other factors they need to manage within their existing CI/CD pipelines. We want to avoid the legacy-enterprise-vendor attitude of “put us at the centre of everything, we are the most important part of your puzzle.” The more we can automate, integrate with existing tooling and become invisible, while answering an essential need, the better. 

PersistentVolume_List-cropped

Phase Three is the Marketplace, this is all about the developers. We want to serve up “golden” container images for all of the developers’ favorite stateful databases and applications. These images will have the storage configured exactly as required by the platform team, the ops team, the storage team, and any other relevant stakeholder. This is 100% infrastructure-as-code configured in the container. Everything is ready to go at the start of the dev cycle, the developer doesn’t even know Ondat is there.

PersistentVolumeClaim creation - Collapsed Menu & Maximum YAML expand

So there we are, our simple mission with the SaaS product is to work with our user community to become invisible. A vitally important platform for running stateful applications at scale in Kubernetes, but just a very quiet, unobtrusive one. We have a few unique surprises stored up, plenty of strong ideas, but we are going to select and evolve these with the users.

Sign up for the Tech Preview

Learn how Ondat can help you scale persistent workloads on Kubernetes.