DigitalOcean is the cloud vendor I love to spend time scratching my head about – founded in 2012 (ie long after the main public cloud vendors already had a big headstart) the company has sold a proposition of super easy, super simple cloud products that are specifically designed for a developer audience. So whereas Amazon Web Services tries its hardest to appeal to large enterprises, DigitalOcean keeps a clear focus on individual developers and developer teams.

And that focus seems to be paying off – DigitalOcean claims a million individual users and 150,000 businesses globally use their products and those combined groups have spun up nearly 80 million Droplets (DigitalOcean’s funky term for a virtual server). The company has grown from its New York roots and now has an office in Cambridge and 12 different data center regions around the world.

But over the last few years, DigitalOcean (DO) has slowly but consistently moved beyond its initial proposition of virtual servers. The company now offers up a more complete range of infrastructure offerings, albeit in far less complex packaging options that its bigger brethren. DO has added storage, firewalls and load balancing to the core virtual server product lines.

Given the mass excitement at the moment around container-wrangling solution Kubernetes, it’s probably natural enough that DO’s latest product offering is a Kubernetes product and, in typical DO fashion, the aim is to reduce, as much as possible, the burden that developers face when wrangling the complexities of Kubernetes.

Being announced today at KubeCon, the Kubernetes user conference in Copenhagen, DigitalOcean Kubernetes has some key features that the company believes will differentiate it from the Kubernetes offerings out there in the marketplace. To whit:

  • Dedicated Managed Kubernetes Cluster: Each customer receives their own cluster, which provides security and isolation for their containerized applications
  • Integrated Storage Scalability: block storage and object storage are built in
  • Included Security: Cloud Firewalls are included
  • Continuous Delivery: DO’s product includes integration with popular continuous integration services
  • Team Management: DO’s “teams” feature allows development teams to manage access and permissions to the cluster
  • Extended Insights: In typical Kubernetes environments, metrics, logs and events can be lost if nodes are spun down. DigitalOcean’s Kubernetes product will store this information separate from the node indefinitely
  • One-click Integrations: The product includes one-click integrations to deploy an entire application stack

Containers are the new virtual servers

If you’re wondering why DigitalOcean, a company so focused on limiting the number of products it offers, is adding to its catalog with a Kubernetes option, market forces are at play here. Industry analyst firm 451 Research estimates that the application container market will grow to $2.7 billion in the next couple of years. More specifically for DigitalOcean, whose sole focus is developers, in 2016, just under half surveyed developers said they were committed to containers. By 2017, 77 percent said the same, according to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

So if 77% of developers are playing with these things, and your sole focus is on getting in at the ground floor with developers, your options are limited. Opining on this move, DO’s VP of product, Shiven Ramji says that:

Over the last year, Kubernetes has emerged as the container orchestration platform of choice, and as one of the leading public clouds, investing in supporting our customers’ adoption of containers was a natural evolution to our roadmap. We’ve always been devoted to providing simple solutions for developers — starting with our cloud servers, Droplets. This product is no exception, allowing developers to focus on successfully shipping their applications while not being burdened by the complexity involved with creating and running a highly scalable and secure cluster across multiple apps.


A natural move for DigitalOcean whose life has become more complex over the past couple of years as the big public cloud vendors have themselves introduced “cheap and cheerful” infrastructure offerings to go with their more complex existing products. DO has, over its history, grown like weeds, somewhat counter to what one would logically assume would occur. What the future holds for them is anyone’s guess.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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