New technology requires new organization

When Maersk decided to base their data center on Kubernetes technology, it was in order to ease the workload. But at the same time, it led to quite some changes in the organization

KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2019

Kubecon 2019, Barcelona

Danish shipping giant, Maersk, has a very complicated it-infrastructure, and from time to time

Things get so complicated and troublesome to use, that new options needs to be explored. That was exactly what Maersk choose to do back in 2017, where they started to replace their complicated container-based orchestration-layer with an Open Source version – Kubernetes. IBM’s Kubernetes-installation was chosen, and then things took off.

During this year’s KubeCon + CloudNativeCon in Barcelona, I had the opportunity to talk to Dan Berg, Distinguished Engineer, IBM Cloud Kubernetes Services and Martin Bower, Always On Cloud Platform Architect at Maersk, and on thing I wanted to hear about was, if it had not been hard to move over to a completely new infrastructure.

“Well – the biggest thing was not the new technology; it was the organizational changes. The technology was a leap of faith, but to get the organization to change was a major feat. They had to understand the new way we had to work, they had to understand the new world,” says Martin Bower.

The changes to organization went easier than feared, thanks to the fact that all groups had an agil scrum master and lots of devs. teams. And being able and used to work agile, ensured that the changes went smoothly.

“The end result was, that we went from a situation where a roll-out was something that took a long time, to a situation where it was quick to both develop and roll-out. And today Kubernetes is the common platform that makes our work easy,” says Martin Bower.

It used to be, that there were tasks that had a lead time on up to 5-6 months, but Dan Berg explains that the same tasks now can be completed on as little as 20 minuts.

Challenges

Kubernetes did not mean, however, that all challenges was eliminated. Kubernetes is a platform under constant development, and that means that Kubernetes changes every third month, something new is always coming.

“So we need to lock down security all the time, and we have to streamline our installations. The good thing is, that IBM constantly brings new functions that we can use,” explains Martin Bower.

“And Maersk is very progressive, then are totally on board with the new versions, they really want to use the newest of the new, but of cause when it comes to improvements in performance, that is really where they have an interest, says Dan Berg, and continues:

“Another thing Maersk has done right is to make sure that all their applications are cloud native, that means that they really can take advantage of Kubernetes.”

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