Heptio launches new open-source load-balancing project with Kubernetes in mind


The Heptio team. (Heptio Photo)

Heptio added a new load balancer to its stable of open-source projects Monday, targeting Kubernetes users who are managing multiple clusters of the container-orchestration tool alongside older infrastructure.

Gimbal, developed in conjunction with Heptio customer Actapio, was designed to route network traffic within Kubernetes environments set up alongside OpenStack, said Craig McLuckie, co-founder and CEO of Heptio. It can replace expensive hardware load-balancers — which manage the flow of incoming internet traffic across multiple servers — and allow companies with outdated but stable infrastructure to take advantage of the scale that Kubernetes can allow.

“We’re just at the start of figuring out what are the things (that) we can build on top of Kubernetes,” said McLuckie in an interview last week at Heptio’s offices in downtown Seattle. The startup, founded by McLuckie and fellow Kubernetes co-creator Joe Beda, has raised $33.5 million to build products and services designed to make Kubernetes more prevalent and easy to use.

Once companies have made the decision to containerize their applications, which allows them to spread those apps much more widely across cloud services and on-premises servers than virtual machines, things start to get complicated. That’s where Kubernetes comes in; the open-source project originally developed by the two Heptio founders and Brendan Burns of Microsoft has proven to be the most popular method for managing large deployments of containers.

Kubernetes is quite complicated itself, however, and Heptio’s mission is to build tools that help make Kubernetes easier to use with technologies that weren’t designed for the cloud era. Gimbal joins Ark, Sonobuoy, ksonnet, and Contour as open-source projects developed by Heptio over the last couple of years.

Actapio, the U.S. subsidiary of Yahoo Japan, had enlisted Heptio’s consulting services to help it get Kubernetes into its OpenStack environment. Gimbal was the result of that collaboration, which made Actapio’s older infrastructure “Kubernetes-aware,” McLuckie said.

Gimbal is an alpha project, and while Heptio plans to release a more complete version in a few months, developers can check it out here.

“It pays to build in the open and bring the community along with you, we’re bringing this out a lot earlier than a lot of other organizations would,” McLuckie said.

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