This is the eighth year we’ve run the Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year awards. Each year we review the world of open source and recognize top new projects launched during the past year. We’re delighted to share the story of the Kontena project.
Was the project an outgrowth of another project, sponsored by a company, or a new project? Was there something missing in the market the spurred you to build your own solution?
Kontena got started in the beginning of the year 2015. The team had previously built in-house platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution for a major IT services company. This PaaS solution was built around Docker container technology. While working on this project, the Kontena team realized the need for a more developer friendly platform that is capable of running any containers.
We started using Docker very early ourselves. Soon we realized that it’s great technology, but not so easy to master. With Kontena, we want to enable all developers; with or without deep Linux, networking or DevOps knowledge to take advantage of this great technology by making it more accessible and easy to use in any project.
Kontena is delivering complex stack of technologies packaged as a simple to use platform for developers who want to create and run their stuff in containers. All batteries included. Since Kontena takes care of all the nasty, difficult stuff, developers can focus on the stuff that matters the most: their own software.
Among all the technologies included in Kontena, the most visible open source technologies include the Docker engine for running containers and Weave for overlay networking. Kontena supports any operating system that is capable of running Docker containers and may be installed on any infrastructure: cloud, hybrid or on-premises; virtual or bare metal. Kontena comes with built-in provisioning tools for Amazon AWS, Digital Ocean, and Microsoft Azure among many others.
Unlike the others, we are heavily focusing on making a container platform that is designed for software developers. You don’t necessarily need any kind of IT or operations people to run the platform. Developers can do it themselves. This makes Kontena an ideal platform for any organization that doesn’t have resources or time to invest in setting up, configuring, maintaining and administering a platform to run containers.
What was your approach for attracting a project team quickly?
We feel that the key to attracting others to join one’s community at scale is that what you create is of high quality and of course brings significant value to a larger audience. We are also very determined to keeping it a high quality, high value project and open to anyone to adopt and contribute to under an open source license.
What about the people who are contributing to it?
As we’ve so far put in very limited marketing efforts to this, our typical user is a developer who has tried at least a couple of the other platforms and become totally frustrated by how hard those are to put into real use. At this point, the developer has started looking around more widely and comes across us and realizes that working on containers doesn’t have to be painful.
The great thing about our contributors is that they really come from all walks of software business. From single freelance developers to software houses to system integrators. We’ll be doing more organized outreach to our community over the coming months and naturally welcome anyone and everyone to contribute.
Who are they, and why is this project of such great interest to them?
One very significant champion is the IT services provider mentioned in the beginning. They’ve put our platform into use at very large scale on several customer projects from very early on, which has helped us iron it out in a major way. This has also given us the confidence that the platform is in very good shape and scales well. Without them, this project wouldn’t be as far along as it is today.
The other true champions who have helped us a lot are the people from AppGyver. They started using Kontena very early and have given us valuable feedback and some good ideas on where to take it in the future.
Where do you see the biggest opportunity for growth?
Naturally, we are continuously improving the usability from the developers’ perspective. Therefore, we are adding more PaaS-like features to help some of the developers who are not yet ready to engage in using container native services. In addition, we plan to expand support for other container technologies such as CoreOS rkt, Windows containers and more.
To be honest, we haven’t really officially launched Kontena yet. Despite active development, a comprehensive list of features and an active community, we are still at 0.12 version. So far we have made the project available and it has gotten fairly wide adoption through word of mouth and a little bit of tweeting. This has been very encouraging and shows we are on the right path.
We are getting closer to official 1.0 release each day and that’s when we will launch the product and company.
Did you learn about that solution through Open Source Rookies, or did you come by it on your own?
We found the Mattermost project several weeks before Open Source Rookies was announced while looking for some Slack alternatives. Once we noticed that Mattermost is Open Source Rookie like us, we decided to write a blog post about how to run Mattermost in production with Docker and Kontena.
Learn more about Kontena: https://github.com/kontena/kontena