Top 7 Kubernetes startups to watch in 2018-2019

Kubernetes is becoming the de facto operating system for the cloud. Kubernetes was originally based on Google’s internal container orchestration. It then evolved to the current version with the contribution of thousands of companies including Red Hat and CoreOS. The ease of operation and out-of-the-box solutions offered by Kubernetes have inspired hundreds of companies including tech giants like AWS, Alibaba, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle to launch their own Kubernetes as a Service. Here is a list of seven interesting Kubernetes startups that are innovating around the idea of Kubernetes a Service.

1. Rackspace

Rackspace is a Texas-based cloud computing company that launched its Kubernetes as a Service (KaaS) product with fully managed operations in May 2018. Rackspace partnered with HP Enterprises to deliver this pay-per-use Kubernetes service. The Rackspace KaaS allows organizations to move easily across multiple clouds and scale up to millions of containers. The platform also comes with enterprise-grade security, agility, and strategic flexibility.

Rackspace is currently making headlines for winning a one-year £4m extension to host online services for the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Armed Forces. Rackspace is strengthening its Google Cloud Platform portfolio by adding new features such as Customer Reliability Engineering (CRE), compliance assistance programs and Rackspace Managed Security (RMS). Rackspace CRE is the first one to be deployed on Google Cloud. Rackspace worked closely with Google Cloud site engineers to make sure that the final product meets the expected standards.

Kubernetes startups
Flickr / Garrett Heath

Rackspace is also strengthening its partnerships in the IT space. Rackspace recently joined hands with Austin, Texas-based cybersecurity software company SailPoint Technologies Holdings. The duo is looking to solve the security challenges of companies that are moving their datacenter controls to the cloud. The objective of the partnership is to move the SailPoint client’s identity authentication systems to the cloud.

Rackspace CEO Joe Eazor says that the professional services of the company are increasing at a triple-digit rate and they are getting about 50 proposals every week. The company seems to be recruiting dozens just for the professional services area alone.

2. Containership

Containership is a startup that provides fully managed Kubernetes offerings. The Containership platform is known for its “dynamic portability” feature that allows organizations to switch database technologies and hosting providers.

Containership solutions work the same with all hosting providers and enable organizations to have their clusters on multiple clouds. The platform gives them the freedom to choose where their workloads live.

In November 2017, a standardized set of APIs for the Kubernetes project was agreed on by 36 companies. Containership successfully got through the conformance testing and its platform has now officially become a certified Kubernetes distribution. The certification has made the platform to be more legitimate and regulatory compliant.

3. Rancher Labs

Rancher Labs is a Cupertino, Calif.-based company known for introducing Rancher, a content management platform for Docker. Rancher includes a Kubernetes distribution along with an option to choose from Apache Mesos and Docker Swarm. The Rancher platform serves as a central point of control for enterprises and uses role-based access control a.k.a. RBAC capabilities to give shared cluster and host access services.

Late in 2017, the company rolled out their new Kubernetes installer called Rancher Kubernetes Engine (RKE). Simply put, RKE is a standalone platform that analyses Kubernetes clusters to manage its upgrades and life cycle.

Recently, Rancher Labs has expanded its support to Docker Compose, Helm charts, and Kubernetes templates to become accessible to more containerized applications. The basic platform is free, but enterprises can sign up for an upgrade to avail higher levels of support.

In addition to the container-management platform, Rancher Labs has also created a Linux distro called Rancher OS to host containers.

4. Deis

Deis is a startup that offers Kubernetes-centric services and builds software on top of Kubernetes. Microsoft acquired Deis from Engine Yard in 2017 for an undisclosed sum. This acquisition is noteworthy because Microsoft usually doesn’t play well with the technologies that it did not build itself. Perhaps, Microsoft takes the fact of Kubernetes becoming the de facto standard a little seriously. Talking about the offering, Deis provides three tools for handling Kubernetes deployments:

  • Workflow — A container app management platform
  • Kubernetes Helm — A Kubernetes package manager (Helm, was actually initiated by Deis but merged with Google’s Kubernetes deployment manager and evolved into Kubernetes Helm.)
  • Steward — A Kubernetes-native service broker

These tools are currently being used by industry players like Mozilla, CloudMine, SocialRadar, and others. Deis is now helping Kubernetes work better on Microsoft Azure.

5. NeuVector

NeuVector is a California-based startup that develops container security solutions. Thanks to industry veterans from VMware, Fortinet, and TrendMicro who founded the company, NeuVector has developed the first (and only) multivector Kubernetes security platform.

NeuVector automates container protection by combining cloud-native intelligence with firewall security and traditional network security. The company provides a complete Kubernetes solution by taking care of the monitoring, protection, and audits of Kubernetes container deployment.

The startup managed to raise $7 million in the first round of funding hosted in 2017 by Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. The company has partnered with key players like IBM, AWS, Docker, Red Hat, and many others and as a result counts as its customers some of the global leaders in finance, health care, and publishing. In addition to this, the company has developed behavioral-learning for container security and the project is patent pending.

6. DigitalOcean

This 8-year-old cloud infrastructure provider announced its first container offering by launching a Kubernetes-service platform in May 2018. The service allows developers to manage their container workloads on the DigitalOcean platform.

The Kubernetes service will be integrated with compute servers, object storage, block storage, firewalls and load balancers which are a part of the company’s core product suite. The early access program is available since June and the service will become publicly available later this year.

Kubernetes startups
Digital Ocean is the third largest hosting company on a global level and is known for bringing up innovative products and services. Two successful innovations of the company include the CPU droplets service and an object storage product called Space. In July 2017, DigitalOcean rolled out CPU droplets to help out organizations with high CPU capacity needs and heavy duty analytics operations. In late 2017, the company launched Spaces, enabling developers to manage and deploy data in seconds with quick features like drag-and-drop. Spaces provides a scalable and cost-effective solution to their complex storage needs.

DigitalOcean has always been a key problem-solver, which is why SV.CO, the world’s first student startups digital incubator, chose DigitalOcean to become its official cloud partner for the incubation programs.

7. Hasura

The San Francisco/Bangalore based startup Hasura has built its simplified Kubernetes solution with developers in mind. The Hasura cluster has all the services required to get instant backend APIs and DevOps automation. With Hasura, you can choose to run on any cloud such as DigitalOcean, AWS, Azure, or Google cloud and also automatically migrate between them. According to the company’s blog post, two commands and a few minutes are all it takes to get started with Hasura.

The company is not just limited to managing Kubernetes clusters but is also working on development tools to build on top of Kubernetes. Hasura’s core objective is to reduce the grunt work in development and make the process fast. Hasura’s innovative solutions have enabled it to raise $1.6 million in a seed funding round hosted by Nexus Venture Partners.

Kubernetes startups: Riding the wave of the future

Kubernetes has become the game changer for the cloud. These days it is hard to find any new application that is not containerized or not able to run on Kubernetes. Even the biggest frameworks are becoming first-class citizens of Kubernetes. According to a blog post by Giant Swarm, Kubernetes will eventually become the ultimate Cloud API. The technology has gained enough momentum and shows no signs of slowing down in the upcoming years. No wonder Banzai Cloud calls Kubernetes the future of Big Data. And no wonder these Kubernetes startups want a piece of the action.

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