#30 November 20, 2018

Tencent, with Joe Zou

Hosts: Craig Box, Adam Glick

In some ways, China has a parallel Internet to the West. Is that Internet powered by Kubernetes? Of course! Joe Zou, PaaS Product Center Director at Tencent Cloud, talks to Craig and Adam about Kubernetes in China.

Thanks to our translator, Rae Wang.

Do you have something cool to share? Some questions? Let us know:

News of the week

CRAIG BOX: Hi, and welcome to the Kubernetes Podcast from Google. I'm Craig Box.

ADAM GLICK: And I'm Adam Glick.


So how was KubeCon, Craig?

CRAIG BOX: It's always a very different experience, I think, for someone who's presenting at a conference to someone who's just there to enjoy it. So unfortunately, I was busy getting prepared and having a few great podcast conversations. I didn't get to go to any sessions, but that's what YouTube is for. How about yourself?

ADAM GLICK: It was great. My first time to see KubeCon China, as I guess it was for all folks there. But really great to see how the conference and the community are shaping up in China. It feels a little bit like where the KubeCons were in the States and the EU a couple of years ago. Dan Cohen talked about that a little in his talk. But you can see the technology and the enthusiasm are there and really moving forward, as there was a focus not only on the infrastructure pieces, but really a lot of time spent in the keynotes focusing on the things that are building on top of Kubernetes-- some of the big data, the pharma work, Kubeflow, and ML, a lot of cool stuff.

CRAIG BOX: Yeah. And we've both spent a little bit of time in China after the event. What have you been up to?

ADAM GLICK: Oh, just got a chance to tour around a little bit in the Shanghai area. I got out to one of the water towns called Tong Li, which if anyone makes it to the Shanghai area, I'd highly recommend it as well as just exploring Shanghai, which is a city on a scale to which I don't know that I've ever been to. There's over 24 million people in the city, and it is just amazing to see the buildings and just how vast a city it is.

CRAIG BOX: Yes. I think there's-- I'll have to check my figures. I think there's only 21 million people in Beijing where I've been the last few days. I gave a talk at the Google Developer Group here, a similar talk to the one I gave at KubeCon. And of course, when you're in Beijing, it would be rude not to go to the Great Wall of China.

And I want to give a shout out to James from Trek Club. He's a fantastic tour guide. We had a lovely day out at the Great Wall. You'll see some pictures come through on Twitter as I get the chance to post them. But if anyone wants to see the majesty and beauty that is the Great Wall, I can thoroughly recommend the Jinshanling section, which is mostly in its original state with only minor reconstruction where necessary. It goes on as far as the eye can see. And not too many people there, which is my recommendation. So check out the trekclub.org website. Get yourself a tour with James. He will look after you.

ADAM GLICK: Awesome. Shall we get to the news?


CRAIG BOX: Congratulations to the Container Storage Interface team, who this week have released v1.0.0 of the CSI specification. Third parties can now write and deploy plugins exposing storage in Kubernetes, Mesos, and more without ever touching the core code. This unlocks GA of CSI support in Kubernetes, which six storage hopes will be in the upcoming 1.13 release.

ADAM GLICK: The Harbor Project has moved to an incubation project in the CNCF. Harbor is an open source container registry that started at VMware in 2014. It was open sourced in 2016. It was accepted in the sandbox phase with the CNCF in the summer of 2018 and has continued to grow contributors and scope since. The CNCF highlighted Harbor at KubeCon China as a project largely developed within the country.

CRAIG BOX: High fives to JD.com for winning the CNCF's Top End User award at KubeCon China. JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce company, runs the largest production Kubernetes cluster in the world according to the CNCF.

ADAM GLICK: Google Cloud announced Kubeflow Pipelines. Kubeflow Pipelines are a new component of Kubeflow, a popular open source project started by Google that packages ML code running on top of Kubernetes, just like building an app, so that it's reusable by other users across an organization. Kubeflow Pipelines provide a workbench to compose, deploy, and manage reusable, end-to-end machine learning workflows, making it a no-lock-in hybrid solution. It also enables rapid and reliable experimentation so users can try many ML techniques to identify what works best for their application.

CRAIG BOX: KubeCon Europe 2019 in Barcelona is coming up, and the call for proposals is now open. If you have interesting talk you think others in the community would benefit from hearing, now is your chance to submit it. If you want tips on how to write a good proposal, check out our recent interviews with Liz Rice and Janet Kuo.

ADAM GLICK: Rookout launched new debugging tools for Kubernetes and surplus applications this week that allow you to look at variables and execution without stopping your code running. They describe this as a breakpoint, though it's a bit different than a traditional breakpoint that you might be used to in a code editor and is something a little closer to logging and monitoring tools. For those that are familiar with Stackdriver debugging on Google Cloud, this tool appears to provide similar functionality.

CRAIG BOX: Yet another company who named themselves to never be spoken out loud, Scalyr, with a Y, a logging and monitoring SaaS announced deeper integration with Kubernetes. Scalyr now offers cluster-level logging aggregating logs from Kubernetes deployments. Slack integration and stack tracing round out the other improvements in this release.

ADAM GLICK: The CNCF has released their survey of cloud usage in Asia. Among the highlights, most respondents in Asia are using Kubernetes for testing but plan in the future to use it mostly for production. Every container management technology increased in usage, but Kubernetes continues to lead the pack with almost 40% of respondents using it. Public cloud usage of Kubernetes has jumped dramatically from 16% in March to 51% in November. Conversely, on-prem usage dropped from 60% to 31% over the same period.

Lack of training was the number one challenge companies faced, with 46% of them noting this as a concern. And the way people are learning about cloud native technologies said documentation is the number one source with 51% of respondents. Close second was technical podcasts. We hope we're helping you by being a part of that.

CRAIG BOX: And that's the news.


Zou "Joe" Hui is responsible for Tencent Cloud PaaS Center and Tencent's container, DevOps, and monitoring products and development work. Joe joined Tencent in 2010 and was responsible for their internal high-performance distributed communication framework and cache service and then led the team who built Tencent Cloud's first resource management scheduling platform and cloud elastic engine. Joe will be translated today by our colleague, Rae Wang. Welcome to the show, Joe.

JOE ZOU: Thank you.

ADAM GLICK: How would you describe Tencent to someone who's from outside of China?


INTERPRETER: Tencent is a company of dreams. Joe loves working at Tencent. It brings a lot of convenient ways of doing things to people's lives.

ADAM GLICK: What are some of the services or products that Tencent provides in China that people might not be aware of? Help them understand what Tencent provides.


INTERPRETER: Tencent service in China pretty much covers all aspects of internet services. For example, in communications, where they have tools such as QQ and WeChat. They pretty much cover the communication needs of the entire China's population. And then based on each platform, they have also additional value-added services, such as QQ Space and Tencent Music. Outside of communication, Tencent is also probably the number one gaming company in the world. And Tencent now is also a cloud vendor as well.

ADAM GLICK: I believe they're also one of the members of the CNCF?

INTERPRETER: Yeah, they're part of CNCF.

CRAIG BOX: Joe, were you involved with joining Tencent to the CNCF?


INTERPRETER: When Tencent made a decision to also want to serve customers out of China, they realized the importance of Kubernetes in reaching that business goal. So Joe was a strong supporter in getting Tencent into CNCF.

CRAIG BOX: Does Tencent use Kubernetes for services that it runs internally, or is just something that it provides to customers through the cloud business?


TRANSLATOR: Both. They actually started using Kubernetes for internal infrastructure first. For example, most of the gaming infrastructure is actually on top of Kubernetes-- and not only gaming, but also payments, big data, and some of the advertising workflows as well. They all run Kubernetes within Tencent. They've waited till they've used Kubernetes internally, developed the expertise, gained some maturity before they open up to serve external customers.

ADAM GLICK: You provide internet services, gaming, and a lot of other functionality that you expressed. How is that different within China than it might be outside of China?


INTERPRETER: Because the culture is so different within China and also in the foreign markets, you really have to target your products differently to the different audience. So when they provide services and products to customers out of China, they really have to globalize and localize and make sure, whether it's the interface or whether it's the actual architecture of the application speaks to the audience in that market.

CRAIG BOX: We've attended the first Cloud Native conference in China this year. Is there anything that is different about Kubernetes from a technical perspective that you think-- it has had great adoption within China, as has been demonstrated. Do you think the reasons are the same for its adoption within China as in the rest of the world, or do you think there is anything different in particular about the China market?


INTERPRETER: I think technically, it's similar, because the value of Kubernetes is that it frees us up from a lot of infrastructure management work. And then China is starting to really pay attention to open source and really want to participate in open source. So in that regard, I think the direction it's evolving into is very similar to the adoption also in China as well.

ADAM GLICK: Speaking of open source, how is Tencent getting itself involved in open source and helping to build the community and projects that are out there?


INTERPRETER: So in the past, Tencent hasn't done a lot of open source. But in the last couple of years, the entire company from top down, or even developer-driven, everybody really feels like they want to contribute to open source. So first, there is actually a team in Tencent whose job it is to set up the framework so that the best products, the best designs within Tencent can find a way into open source. And secondly, there's a lot of awareness and passion around open source organically growing out of Tencent.

One project task is getting a lot of support from within Tencent to contribute to open source. Tencent is the largest user of KVM within China. So through using KVM, they've actually found a number of bugs, and they're contributing to open source, starting from fixing the bugs in that stack.

CRAIG BOX: Thank you!

INTERPRETER: And on the Kubernetes side of things, they're just starting to work with open source. They're going to start from finding the problems, the pain points, and the bugs, and try to fix those first. And beyond Kubernetes, in the next 6 to 12 months, one project they want to do is to look at some of the best practice DevOps tools and processes and culture and find a way to get that into open source.

CRAIG BOX: Joe, you and I are obviously speaking with a translator today. And most of the collaboration around open source, at least that I have seen, is in English. What is it like for you and your team, who don't speak English, to collaborate around open source? How has the community been, and how do they accommodate that? Do you feel welcome as part of the community?

JOE ZOU: A little difficult. [SPEAKING CHINESE]

INTERPRETER: As you know, it's difficult. It depends a lot on group work. So within their team, there are folks whose English is better than the rest. And they serve as a bridge between the Chinese native-speaking developer team and the bigger Kubernetes community, who mostly speak English.

CRAIG BOX: I know that there has been a big effort to translate documentation.


INTERPRETER: Yeah, and it gets better. So Tencent is actually trying to also hire developers outside of China who come from an English-speaking background who can help Tencent to even connect better with the open source community.

CRAIG BOX: I know that there's been a big effort in the SIG Docs team to translate the documentation into Chinese. Do you think that has helped the adoption of Kubernetes within China?


INTERPRETER: That would be really helpful. Because when you port documentation to Chinese, that will lower the barrier for entry for a lot of the Chinese native-speaking developers. You're going to see more Chinese developers participating in the open source community.

ADAM GLICK: Kubernetes, from other places that I've seen, is really on a wave and changing a lot of things. Do you see the same thing here in China?


INTERPRETER: Yes, definitely.

ADAM GLICK: If you look at other technology transformations that have happened, what would be something that you would think is analogous to what you're seeing happen with Kubernetes right now?


INTERPRETER: For example, the emergence of AI technologies.

CRAIG BOX: In terms of customers consuming cloud services, we see that the container abstraction has been a great way for people to build applications and develop them. But we also see people moving to serverless technologies or functions as a service. You run a PaaS that is powered by Kubernetes. Do you find the Tencent cloud customers like containers as the abstraction level? Do you feel that they are going to want to move to functions as a service? Do you think that developers will use both?


ADAM GLICK: Most of the Chinese audience is still at the Kubernetes and container level. Conceptually, people are starting to understand serverless, but it's not used widely in applications yet.

CRAIG BOX: In a lot of cases in the Western world, the culture is driven by the developers going to meetups and learning about new technology, and then they go and convince their manager to look at that. Is that the same in China? Is the cultural change driving the technological change, or is it the other way around?


INTERPRETER: So especially in the container world, that trend is starting. It's maybe not as entrenched. But they're seeing that a lot of times, it's because developers discover the new technologies, they start influencing the management layers.

ADAM GLICK: Do you see more people adopting your Kubernetes services from a developer standpoint or from an IT standpoint?


INTERPRETER: Within Tencent, a lot of it's from developers. When developers understand the value adds from Kubernetes, they come to whether it's the admin or the management layer to influence the rest of the company.

ADAM GLICK: What has been the most surprising thing about adopting Kubernetes within Tencent?


INTERPRETER: One surprise and challenge is how to integrate Kubernetes into the existing systems and processes. They have people who are used to the current tools they are using. They don't want to disrupt the existing experience. And at same time, they want to bring the value of Kubernetes. So they've spent a lot of time trying to work on the integration experience.

CRAIG BOX: And how have they solved that? Is that simply a training issue? Is that about bringing in new people? Is that about just resetting systems?


INTERPRETER: So first, they start with a lot of education, helping people to understand the value of Kubernetes, a lot of recommending this is the best thing to use. In other cases, for example, they have a very advanced publishing system that has very granular controls. And Kubernetes does not have control at the same granularity yet. So they try to integrate these two systems together, build plugins for them to be able to work at the same level.

Another example is that within Tencent, there is the policy, the preference that every container has a fixed IP. So to enable containers to satisfy the internal requirement of fixed IP, again, they build plugins to make sure they can integrate.

ADAM GLICK: So as you look to the future, you've started to get involved in the Kubernetes community. You're here at the event. You're a sponsor to the CNCF. You've brought Kubernetes into Tencent. You're building your own services on top of it. What's next for Kubernetes, the Kubernetes ecosystem, and Tencent?


INTERPRETER: They want to contribute in DevOps. So within Tencent, there is a product called Tencent Hub, which is what they use internally for DevOps, and it has a lot of great tools and best practices. And they want to bring that to Kubernetes.

CRAIG BOX: And finally, Tencent publishes a lot of games. What is your favorite game?



INTERPRETER: His favorite is a poker game, Texas Hold'em.


INTERPRETER: Unfortunately, that game just stopped serving.

ADAM GLICK: Thank you very much for taking the time and coming on the show today with us, Joe.

JOE ZOU: OK. Thank you. Thank you.

ADAM GLICK: We hope you've enjoyed something different in this week's interview. Enjoy your Thanksgiving if you're in the States, and happy DevOps to those who are keeping Black Friday and Cyber Monday services alive.

CRAIG BOX: Thank you, as always, for listening. If you've enjoyed the show, please help us spread the word by telling a friend. If you have any feedback for us, you can find us on Twitter @KubernetesPod, or reach us by email at kubernetespodcast@google.com.

ADAM GLICK: You can also check out our website at KubernetesPodcast.com. Until next time, take care.

CRAIG BOX: See you next week.