Code Commits: only half the story

Code Commits: only half the story

Tom Callway
Tom Callway
Published: August 5, 2019

It’s not the first time I’ve been asked by a sales rep the following question: “The customer has looked at Stackalytics and is wondering why Rancher doesn’t have as many code commits as the competition. What do I say?”

For those of you unfamiliar with Stackalytics, it provides an activity snapshot, a developer selfie if you will, of commits and lines of code changed in different open source projects. Although a very worthwhile service, some vendors like to use it as proof of their technical prowess and commitment to an open-source project’s ecosystem.

But does the number of code commits by a vendor tell the full story?

Certainly, some would argue that it does. For example, whilst working at Canonical, I regularly came across customers who’d ask us why we made relatively few commits to upstream OpenStack when compared to other vendors. This was despite the Ubuntu OpenStack distribution being used by just about everybody within the community. It seems that now, at Rancher, we’re being asked to justify our Kubernetes credentials by a similar measure despite the fact that our eponymous Kubernetes management platform has been downloaded over 100,000,000 times.

Perhaps those evaluating vendors should be asking different questions like:

  • Is it possible that some vendors hire teams of engineers to focus solely on developing code for upstream Kubernetes?

  • As a customer, will you get access to the engineering expertise needed to make those code commits?

  • Does more upstream code commits mean that the vendor’s Kubernetes management platform is better than competitive products?

  • Is the vendor with the most code commits more engaged with the Kubernetes community than everyone else?

At every tradeshow I’ve been to this year, community members have come to the booth to thank me for the Rancher platform and what Rancher Labs does for the Kubernetes eco-system. They don’t care about code commits, they care about the business value we deliver.

Rancher helps tens of thousands of teams be successful with Kubernetes. Without it they couldn’t easily realise advanced DevOp capabilities like continuous delivery, canary/blue/green deployments, service autoscaling, automated DNS & load balancing, SSL and certificate management, secret management… etc. It’s these capabilities (plus not being locked into a single vendor ecosystem) that deliver extraordinary value to end users, their employers and to the wider Kubernetes community. Best of all - they don’t have to pay for it!

It’s also worth remembering that contributing to a large open source community like Kubernetes isn’t a single-threaded experience. k3s was launched by Rancher in March 2019 to huge excitement. k3s is a Kubernetes distribution designed to run production workloads in remote, resource constrained locations like in IoT devices or the network edge. Although the project isn’t measured by Stackalytics’ code commit counter, k3s amply demonstrates Rancher’s technical leadership and commitment to helping enterprises deploy Kubernetes from their core infrastructure to the network edge.

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Tom Callway
Tom Callway
Director of Product Marketing, Rancher
Tom Callway is Director of Product Marketing and EMEA Marketing at Rancher with specific responsibility for field marketing. He has been working for high growth, B2B open source technology start-ups for over 15 years. Before joining Rancher, Tom ran the cloud marketing team at Canonical/Ubuntu and, before that, was responsible for transitioning MariaDB from a community database project to a global brand. Tom lives in Twickenham, UK with his wife Rosie, two children and miniature Schnauzer.
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