Community Spotlight series: Calico Open Source user insights from Cloud Native Technologist, Jintao Zhang

In this issue of the Calico Community Spotlight series, I’ve asked Jintao Zhang from API7.ai to share his experience with Kubernetes and Calico Open Source. API7.ai is an open-source infrastructure software company that helps businesses manage and visualize business-critical traffic, such as APIs and microservices to accelerate business decisions through data. They have built API7 Cloud—an any-cloud, multi-location SaaS ​platform for deploying, controlling, visualizing, and monitoring APIs at scale. It allows users to manage and run their APIs anywhere in one place and increase runtime effortlessly, without worrying about the control plane.

Let’s take a look at how Jintao started his Kubernetes journey, and the insights he gained from Calico Open Source.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, including where you currently work and what you do there.

I am currently working for API7.ai and my title is Cloud Native Technologist. I am mainly responsible for the Apache APISIX Ingress controller project and the service mesh project based on Apache APISIX.

Q: What orchestrator(s) have you been using?

Kubernetes.

Q: What cloud infrastructure(s) has been a part of your projects?

AWS (EKS) and Azure (AKS).

Q: There are many people who are just getting started with Kubernetes and might have a lot of questions. Could you please talk a little bit about your own journey?

I first got into Docker in 2014 and I loved the project. It made a huge difference and I started using it in my development environment, as well as in some of my company’s environments.  Then I started my own Kubernetes journey.

Later, in 2017, we needed a larger-scale deployment and elastic scaling. We chose to create our own PaaS platform based on Kubernetes, and implemented a CI/CD system and monitoring system based entirely on Kubernetes. I love open source—I am also actively participating in some projects.

Now, I am mainly working on Apache APISIX Ingress controller and service mesh projects based on Apache APISIX. I am also a reviewer of the Kubernetes ingress-nginx project.

Q: What were some of the challenges that led you to search for a CNI?

First, we needed to choose an appropriate CNI to meet our network topology, or to allow our services to communicate with each other.

Second, we had to consider network performance, which is a key factor affecting the overall service-level objective.

In addition, we needed security and observability, such as fine-grained network permission control through NetworkPolicy. These considerations were mainly to meet business requirements, as well as for its maintainability.

Q: There are other CNIs out there—what stood out about Calico for your needs?

Project Calico is very well-known, and so Calico Open Source naturally appeared on the list when we were selecting CNIs. On one hand, we needed performance and security. Calico can use border gateway protocol (BGP) and NetworkPolicy, which is great.

On the other hand, we needed to consider our network topology. We wanted to use a non-overlay network mode to allow direct interconnection inside and outside of the cluster, and Calico easily accomplished this requirement.

Q: Do you have any feedback for the Project Calico community about Calico resources?

Both Project Calico and its community are gradually growing and are constantly innovating. The Calico community is also very active, and everyone is happy to share and learn from each other. I like it very much and I hope to contribute my own strength someday.

I’m also exploring the combination of Calico and eBPF.

I’d like to thank Jintao for taking the time from his busy schedule to share his experience with other Open Source Calico users. Telling Calico users’ stories and encouraging newbies are the main goals of this spotlight series. I look forward to hearing more from our community members and sharing your stories as well.

Get started with Calico Open Source by reading through Calico docs. You can also reach us at devadvocacy@tigera.io for collaboration ideas.

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