It was a proof of concept effort, and the proof was in the pudding. "Everyone was really impressed at what we accomplished in a week," says Danielsson. "We did these kinds of integrations just to make sure that we got a handle on how Kubernetes works. If you can create optimism and buzz around something, it’s half won. And if the developers and project managers know this is working, you’re more or less done." Adds Reinhardt: "You need to create some very visible, quick wins in order to overcome the status quo."
The impact on the speed of deployment was clear: "Before, we had to announce at least a week in advance when we wanted to do a release because there was a huge checklist of things that you had to do," says Danielsson. "By going cloud native, we have the infrastructure in place to be able to automate all of these things. Now we can get a new release done in half an hour instead of days."
The potential impact on cost was another bonus. "Hosting applications is quite expensive, so moving to the cloud is something that we really want to be able to do," says Danielsson. With the ability to adapt workloads, teams "will be able to scale down to around half the capacity at night, saving 30 percent of the hardware cost."
Just as importantly, Danielsson says, there’s added flexibility: "When we try to move or rework applications that are really crucial, it’s often tricky to validate whether the path we want to take is going to work out well. In order to validate that, we would need to reproduce the environment and really do testing, and that’s prohibitively expensive and simply not doable with traditional host providers. Cloud native gives us the ability to do risky changes and validate them in a cost-effective way."
As word of the two successful test projects spread throughout the company, interest in Kubernetes has grown. "We want to be able to support our developers in running Kubernetes clusters but we’re not there yet, so we allow them to do it as long as they’re aware that they are on their own," says Danielsson. "So that’s why we are also looking at things like [the managed Kubernetes platform] CoreOS Tectonic
, Azure Container Service
, etc. These kinds of services will be a lot more relevant to midsize companies that want to leverage cloud native but don’t have the IT departments or the structure around that."
In the next year and a half, Danielsson says the company will be working on moving one of their legacy desktop products, a web app for researching legislation and tax laws originally built in Java Enterprise, onto cloud-native technology. "We’re doing a microservice split out right now so that we can independently deploy the different parts," he says. The main website, which provides free content for customers, is also moving to cloud native.