KumiNews 2016: The latest and the future at a glance

KumiNews: The latest and the future at a glance

Kumina can look back on a successful year. A lot happened at Kumina these past 12 months. We carried out challenging new projects and started new collaborations with amazing organisations. Behind the scenes, we worked hard on optimising and extending our services. We also welcomed new colleagues at our team.

Tim’s vision on the recent and future progression and expansion of our services:

In 2017, Kumina will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. A lot has changed since Bart, Kees and I decided to merge our companies in 2007. And we expect a lot more changes in the coming years as well, as the industry is evolving faster and faster.

Where in 2007 Kumina’s main business was providing “old-style” system administration, usually on hardware provided by the customers, we’ve since moved to our own hosting offering for most of our clients. Even when clients do not make use of the Virtual Private Servers we offer, a lot of them rent hardware with us directly, using either of the two datacenters Kumina is using herself. A lot of our business still revolves around maintaining the Virtual Private Servers and associated services.

Although we noticed the rise in people asking for ‘cloud’, we always refrained from calling our offering ‘cloud’, as it is not as flexible as the public cloud environments provided by the large players in the field.

This was never much of a problem, as most customers did not require this type of flexibility. Having a reliable platform is more important and in those starting years, everyone looked a bit askance at those big clouds. Most of our customers preferred a solid partner that they could actually communicate with.

The public cloud is picking up speed with our customers as well. The ease with which one can set up an environment on a public cloud and break it down again offers a whole lot of options to our customers. Scaling is becoming an issue more often, especially when a web application has to deal with a sudden peak in concurrent users. The public cloud works great for that. Where those public cloud companies lack in personal contact, it makes up for it with the range of possibilities the platforms offer. The pay-as-you-go constructions help a lot here as well.

At Kumina, we notice that a lot of customers are expressing more and more interest in those possibilities. Although we’ve been offering our services on AWS as well for quite a while (as we are still a maintenance company, not a hosting company), until recently most of our customer’s systems ended up on either their own hardware or our hosting cluster. This is changing, however, as our customers are interested in the scaling options and quick replication that a cloud environment provides. And we’re happy to provide.

We wouldn’t be Kumina if we didn’t have an opinion about the best way of doing that. Since 2016, we’ve been working a lot with containers and Kubernetes and we’re convinced that currently, there’s no better way of working with applications than running them containerized within a Kubernetes cluster. This provides a lot of additional possibilities to our customers, which in turn allows them to do more in less time. We love to support them in this.

So for the immediate future, we expect an uptick in the number of Kubernetes setups we administer, which includes more than “just” maintaining Kubernetes of course. We add monitoring and metrics collection via Prometheus, ElasticSearch for log aggregation and lots more. We even provide a full development stack, from a Gitlab instance to an automatically deploying Jenkins.

2017 is promising to become a very interesting year regarding all the new possibilities. Are you wondering if we can be of meaning to your organisation? We always offer a free consult and advice by phone, so don’t hesitate to contact us!

Meet our new colleagues

Last year, we welcomed two new colleagues to our team: Ed Schouten and Bart Vercoulen.

In 2011 during his studies, Ed worked as part-time employee at Kumina. Five years later, after working at Google, we welcomed him back to our team. In his combined function as system administration and software developer, he mainly focusses on process optimisation. He is currently working on replacing our monitoring system. With this new feature-rich system, we can get more insights and also share these with our customers. This enables us to solve potential alerts faster and gives us the ability to get the most performance out of our systems. With his experience with large systems, algorithms, developer techniques and extended knowledge on the tools we use, like Kubernetes, Prometheus and Cassandra, he is great addition to our team.

We also welcomed our new colleague Bart, who started as our part-time junior developer. He supports the team and our internal processes by developing tools that we need internally. Thanks to his commitment we were able to take great strides towards augmenting the coverage of our monitoring and trending the past year. With his Icinga checks and Prometheus collectors we are now able to detect potential problems even faster. In the near future he will work on making our customers set-ups more comprehensible. We hope we are able to offer this new service to all our customers in the year to come.

In 2017 Niek Geerts will start as our new system administrator, who will be introduced at some point in the future. We continue assuring and improving the quality of our services. For example, we just started the process to obtain ISO 27001 certification. We will keep you informed!

Optimisation and Innovation: Open Source Releases and sponsoring
Since the foundation of Kumina we have worked almost exclusively with Open Source software. Past year, we gladly contributed to the open source community by releasing several open source software improvements and initiatives. We also decided to sponsor a promising new open source project by the company Nuxi.

Open Source Releases
Once in a while we face a challenge, without there being a solution that lives up to our quality standards. This is also the case with our current project to reimplement our monitoring to be based on Prometheus. In some cases we want to be able monitor applications that cannot yet interface with Prometheus, which is why we’ve designed these components ourselves. Curious about these and other open source releases from last year? Have a look at our Business Github page or click around on this blog.

Cooperation and sponsoring Nuxi / CloudABI
In 2014, our colleague Ed started an open source project named CloudABI. CloudABI is a framework which allows software developers to build applications that are strongly sandboxed. Sandboxing massively reduces the impact of security problems. With the use of CloudABI it is also possible to test and manage software in a better way. Kumina decided to help Ed with this promising project by sponsoring him.

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