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Kubernetes & SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory: Extensibility on a Cloud-Native Open-Source Stack

Technology is constantly evolving and pushing the art of the possible and user expectations alike, which is why flexibility and adaptability are increasingly important qualities for any enterprise. SAP Cloud Platform delivers an open-source and open-standards based business cloud platform that helps companies adapt to changing market needs and digitally transform their business models. By leveraging cloud-native capabilities and by co-innovating on strategic topics such as cloud-native technologies, we are able to provide our customers access to the latest and greatest of what today’s technology has to offer with the ability to adapt to what tomorrow’s technology may bring.

SAP Cloud Platform: Enabling Smart Business Applications

SAP Cloud Platform provides customers and partners with an offering to develop smart business applications that leverage state-of-the-art cloud native technologies and intelligent business services. It provides a portability layer that allows these applications to be deployed on various hyperscale infrastructure providers, to SAP data centers as well as customer- and partner-owned infrastructure. SAP Cloud Platform enables the development of new cloud-native applications and the extension of existing business solutions like SAP S/4HANA, SAP C/4HANA and other line-of-business applications such as SAP SuccessFactors, etc.

With the evolution of extensibility on SAP Cloud Platform, SAP continues to leverage cloud-native technologies and uses Kubernetes, Istio and Knative to facilitate the development, deployment and management of business applications that excel in hybrid system landscapes in a frictionless way, while making developers’ lives easier. With this blog post I would like to provide further details on the aforementioned technologies:

SAP’s Open-Source Project Gardener: Kubernetes-as-a-service

Kubernetes is an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications” [Source]. Kubernetes has meanwhile evolved into the de-facto industry standard for container management. SAP’s project Gardener provides an open source implementation of a Kubernetes-as-a-Service offering, which supports consistent Kubernetes cluster management across various hyperscale cloud providers and virtualization infrastructures. Project Gardener is certified as part of the Kubernetes Conformance Program. SAP Cloud Platform leverages Gardener to provision Kubernetes clusters to its customers.

Knative: Abstracting Away the Infrastructure

Knative is an open source project initiated by Google and launched with partners like IBM, Red Hat and SAP during the Google Cloud Next conference 2018. Knative aims at providing “a set of middleware components that are essential to build modern, source-centric, and container-based applications” [Source].

The modern, cloud-native capabilities Knative enables are essential for SAP Cloud Platform when it comes to the development of functions with SAP Cloud Platform Functions. One of the sub projects of Knative is Eventing. A central concept of Knative Eventing is the loose coupling of event sources and event consumers. Also, Knative Eventing implements the concepts of channels which are used to transport events from source to consumers. Available event source implementations include a broad range of sources built by the open source community as well as SAP solutions that play the role of event sources.

Istio: Getting Serving into Knative

Another subproject of Knative is Serving. Serving is backed by Istio as an open source service mesh technology. Istio will enable SAP Cloud Platform to deliver an environment that automatically applies resilience and observability best practices – such as timeouts and retries as well as circuit breaking – to application code written by developers without them having to adapt their source-code to enjoy those benefits. Instead, Envoy-based proxy sidecar components transparently handle these cross-cutting concerns in a language-neutral way.

SAP’s Open-Source Project Kyma: Extend in the Cloud and On-Premise

Kyma is an open-source project developed natively on Kubernetes. It allows developers to extend and customize both cloud-based and on-premise business applications easily and with little overhead, using serverless computing or microservice architectures.

While Knative provides the serverless foundation abstraction, Kyma enhances it with a consolidated event catalog and service catalog, providing a central point of control, allowing developers to react on business events and easily leverage services offered by connected applications or any Open Service Broker compliant service provider. Upcoming iterations of Kyma will also leverage the Serving and Build subprojects of Knative.

As Thomas Hertz, Head of C/4 Core at SAP outlined: “Aligning our open source Kyma project with Knative back in July was clearly the right direction. Since then we’ve worked with the Knative community to refactor Kyma and extract vital pieces of it (such as our lightweight event bus, based on NATS Streaming) and contribute them to Knative. This will help both communities to benefit, while providing us with the right abstraction, allowing us to focus on opening up the world of business software to the Kubernetes universe.

SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory: Built on an open core

SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory is the commercial offering based on Kyma, putting all the above innovations into the hands of SAP customers and partners. With the combination of Kubernetes, Knative and Istio SAP Cloud Platform can better serve their customers and partners by leveraging widely accepted standards to handle Kubernetes workloads in an efficient manner.

Similar to our involvement into other open source projects, SAP has started contributing to the Knative ecosystem.

Google introduced Knative in July, an open source project based on Kubernetes that provides critical building blocks for modern serverless applications,” said Oren Teich, Director of Product Management, Google Cloud. “In the four months since then we have seen tremendous enthusiasm from contributing companies, many of whom are furthering Knative as the serverless standard for hybrid and multi-cloud users. SAP has been a contributor to Knative from the start. They have replatformed Kyma to Knative to enable custom extensions to SAP Commerce portfolio.”

SAP @ KubeCon | CloudNativeCon North America 2018

Many of the above technologies will be showcased at KubeCon | CloudNativeCon North America 2018 in Seattle. If you are there – please visit us at Booth #17 to learn more about our open source activities and chat with our Kyma and Gardener experts on-site!

For those of you at the event, let me finish by pointing our three sessions that may be interesting to you:

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