Counting on Kubernetes, Diamanti wants to future-proof legacy technologies

Ahead of VMworld 2019, the enterprise technology industry is at the crux of a multicloud conundrum.

With the rise of containerized applications and microservices, the distinctions amongst major cloud providers are getting dimmer by the day. Yet on-premises computing remains a crucial component for the enterprise, even when those businesses seek the economic and operational benefits of virtualized cloud environments.

The challenge for virtualization service providers is to effectively bring the perks of cloud to the controlled environments of on-prem data centers. While VMware has maintained heady influence in this market, open-source trends for collaborative container development, especially Kubernetes’ scalable container management platform, have opened the gates for startups such as Diamanti Inc.

“Our founders all came from [Cisco Systems Inc.] with familiarity with the underpinnings of hyperconverged architectures in the x86 landscape and networking subsystems and storage subsystems, but they wanted to build [a company] using the latest technologies — things like non-volatile memory express-based flash [storage]. They wanted to do it with a software stack that was native containers in Kubernetes,” said Tom Barton (pictured), chief executive officer of Diamanti.

Barton spoke with John Furrier, host of theCUBE, at SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio in Palo Alto, California. They discussed the story of Diamanti, the impact of Barton’s entrepreneurial history and the future-proofing of legacy applications (see the full interview with transcript here).

A believer in Kubernetes

Having joined Diamanti just last year, Barton was unfamiliar with the company when a headhunter reached out to him. But as a believer in containers and Kubernetes, he quickly recognized the startup’s potential.

Diamanti is a full stack solution to run container-based workloads on-prem, and it hooks into the cloud when and where needed. And Barton, who has worked at and founded both hardware and software companies, sees the enterprise as a very hybrid cloud world.

“If you look at the history of the last 15 years, we went from an environment that was 0% virtualized to 95% virtualized with virtual machine technologies from VMware and others. I think that, fundamentally, containers and Kubernetes are equally as important and are going to be equally as transformative going forward for how people manage their workloads both on-premises and in the cloud,” Barton said.

It’s because the major public cloud providers have all adopted Kubernetes that Barton feels so confident in Diamanti’s approach to hybrid computing. As an open-source project with real scalability, it enables the modernization of a company’s computing efforts without having to entirely refactor legacy architecture. And with the standardization of Kubernetes comes the rise of microservices for domain-specific applications, supporting either incremental or holistic changes to business operations.

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“It’s future-proofing your software development effort, so there’s two streams of demand,” Barton stated. “One is refactoring legacy applications that are insufficiently granular and behave and fail in a monolithic way, as well as trying to adopt modern cloud-native solutions for things like databases. The good news is, customers don’t have to refactor everything.”

Make new friends, but keep the old

There are logical breakpoints in an organization’s application stack where they can assess resources and choose not to refactor a legacy consumer banking application, but rather they could refactor the database tier and serve up container-based services as a microservice, Barton explained.

In fact, banking service providers are among Diamanti’s target customers, along with other regulated industries and those companies with high transactional data activity, such as messaging and analytics. And because Diamanti’s full stack can run containers on bare metal (the most popular option), on top of virtual machines, or as a VM run on a container, these transaction-intense companies can better choose what data to keep, where to stash it, and how best to access it.

“Where we shine is transactionally intensive [use cases], because we have the hardware assist and the input/output offload for the storage and the networking” to handle  the most demanding applications, Barton pointed out.

“Where nobody can really touch us is … literally [we’re] 10 to 30 times faster than something that Nutanix could do,” said Barton, boasting a performance lead over the hyperconverged infrastructure appliance maker.

The next chapter

Similar to Nutanix Inc., Diamanti is starting out as a full-stack bundle and ships in a box. Diamanti is looking to unbundle some of its hardware/software offerings to grant even more customization, a transition Nutanix also faced in today’s software-defined market. The challenge for Diamanti then is to avoid the missteps of other market players. The market for hyperconverged service providers has gotten very crowded in recent years, and as an early innovator in the space, Nutanix now faces challenges transitioning away from hardware-centric products to subscription-based software services.

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Perhaps Diamanti is taking a cue from an early Nutanix rival, VMware. The virtualization service provider has taken a friendly approach to market expansion, integrating as tightly as possible with as many cloud platform providers as possible. In Diamanti’s plan to unbundle hardware and software, the startup is cozying up with industry giants.

“We’re in the very early stages of negotiating with companies like [Dell Technologies Inc.] to make it easy for them to integrate our two [peripheral component interconnect express] cards into their server platform,” Barton explained.

According to him, Diamanti’s box is the preferred product. Barton envisions a software-only solution to include its container storage interface and networking plugins, its operating system, Kubernetes, and the control plane for managing Kubernetes clusters.

Besides an expansion to the product portfolio, Barton has other plans to grow Diamanti. In addition to doubling the headcount to over 100 employees, he also wants to expand the startup’s salesforce over the next four quarters.

Barton also hinted at upcoming funding news, saying Diamanti is in “very good shape with respect to being funded for growth.”

Here’s the complete video interview, one of many CUBE Conversations from SiliconANGLE and theCUBE:

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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