On an unassuming afternoon on Wednesday the 18th September 2019, we launched a world’s first! A k3s-powered, managed Kubernetes service. We were in for a ride...

Since we had been taking applications for a few weeks already, when it came to beta launch day there were no shortage of applicants. It was very encouraging to see there was plenty of buzz online already.

For the beta we were on the lookout for testers who had some level of experience with Kubernetes as well as being active in the cloud native community. More than anything we wanted passionate, opinionated individuals who would help us improve the service right from the get-go.

We weren’t disappointed!

Early impressions

Once onboarded, the first port of call for any #KUBE100 tester, besides launching a cluster, is to head straight to our private Slack community - and the chat started right away.

The honour of the first comment in our community Slack channel went to Alistair Hey!

Your Alt Text

A solid start.

Very quickly we were humbled by the amazing feedback and conversations emerging from our burgeoning community.

Our CTO, Andy Jeffries, swiftly set to the task of actioning feedback, making improvements and bug fixes on the fly. In the first couple of weeks we:

  • Made various improvements to the Civo CLI
  • Built a custom tool to allow us to more effectively monitor logs from the web server and API
  • Optimised the dashboard UI
  • Released new functionality to allow an in-place upgrade of k3s clusters to the latest version
  • Added k3s 0.10.0 to Civo within 24 hours of its release
  • Added functionality to allow users to specify a script to run immediately after starting an instance/cluster

As I mentioned in my previous blog, we wanted to address one of the big issues that users experience with Kubernetes… speed of deployment.

Launching a Kubernetes cluster with some of the biggest cloud providers can take up to 20 minutes, and our decision to launch a managed Kubernetes service that was powered by k3s was one which tackled this poor developer experience.

We worked incredibly hard prior to beta launch to get consistent sub-2-minute cluster deploy time, so it was so very rewarding to see our new testers seeing these speeds in real-world usage.

Alex Ellis of OpenFaaS was one of the first testers to write an in-depth review of the beta on his personal blog.

Yes, you read it correctly. In this post I'll kick the tires with and walk you through how you can use the world's first managed k3s service. k3s is a light-weight distribution of Kubernetes re-packaged by Darren Shepherd, Chief Architect at Rancher Labs.

Notable contributors

Since we launched #KUBE100, our Slack community has grown to over 150 active members, who are sharing feedback and tips every day. While we’re thankful of every bug and suggestion raised by each member of our community, there’s been a few testers that have really gone the extra mile, so we want to give them a shout out here!

We’ve been blown away by the support and the team are learning new things from you all the time. We’re determined to evolve our Kubernetes offering and provide you with the best possible experience as a way of saying thanks!

Learn guides and content

As well as the extremely valuable feedback we receive in Slack channel, our users have also contributed some excellent content: including guides for Civo, or walkthroughs and reviews on personal blogs and elsewhere online. Here’s just a handful of these contributions we’ve seen in the wild:

Plus, some recent contributions to Civo:

If you want to contribute to Civo you can do so right from your dashboard. Simply submit your article for review, and if it’s published you’ll no doubt have some shiny new swag coming your way.

Marketplace applications

We can’t forget our ever-growing number of marketplace applications, ready to deploy in just a few minutes when you launch your cluster. The marketplace is key to our vision of providing a service that developers can use straight out the box, with as little time waiting around for set up and deploy as possible.

We launched our beta with ten applications including OpenFaaS, Longhorn, MariaDB and MinIO, but it didn’t take our community long to start adding their own…

Other user contributions include:

Thanks to all our application contributors so far! If there’s any you think we’re missing, or anything necessary to your workflow, please let us know.

Or better still, find out more info and submit your pull request at https://github.com/civo/kubernetes-marketplace

What next?

This is just the beginning! Despite only being live for less than two months, the #KUBE100 beta has already picked up plenty of momentum – we even got a mention in the official Google Kubernetes Podcast!

It's still early days, and we still have plenty to do, but so far, the feedback for the service is very promising.

For now, we’re going to continue fine tune our service, expand our marketplace and feature set, and gear up towards coming out of beta when we feel the time is right.