Community Spotlight series: Calico Open Source user insights from Sr. Software Developer, Burak Tahtacıoğlu

In this issue of the Calico Community Spotlight series, I’ve asked Burak Tahtacioglu from ParkLab Technology to share his experience with Kubernetes and Calico Open Source.  Let’s take a look at how Burak 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 a Sr. Software Developer in our Developer Experience team. I’m in charge of a team that maintains the core infrastructure, which includes the Kubernetes clusters we run. We also have the base CNI of the clusters. I am mainly responsible for Kubernetes processes, Istio service mesh, and Apache APISIX API Gateway processes of scaled applications.

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

Kubernetes.

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

Amazon EKS and RKE.

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 used container (LXC) processes in my development environment and applied them to the applications I was consulting. Then I started my own Kubernetes journey.

At ParkLab Technology, we needed a larger scale deployment and elastic scaling for microservices. We implemented a Kubernetes-based CI/CD system and monitoring system, which is where we are at right now—we run our production clusters on Kubernetes.

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

The CNI solution we were using was not capable enough. In a presentation about Calico, we saw that it was the CNI solution we were looking for. Specifically, the ability to configure BGP solved our problems.

Q: Was there a triggering factor for solving this challenge?  

Some of our users were complaining about the infrastructure functionality, so we looked into what was going on. We found the issue and wanted to implement Calico quickly. Luckily, we did not waste much time as Calico supports many platforms. We also had to use different solutions outside of Calico to cover some features that are not available in Calico Open Source.

Q: Could you provide some details about this technical problem, whether it’s security, compliance, or troubleshooting?

We did not have a problem on the security side. Troubleshooting was the main challenge and it was disrupting our testing at the infrastructure level. It took quite a while to identify what the problem was—which was the CNI.

Q: How did you come across Calico? What stood out about Calico for your needs? 

We determined that we were having network issues and did some research. We came to read some of the Calico Open Source documentation and after obtaining a proof of concept (POC), our Calico transition began. Calico promised to scale capabilities as well as many useful features like BGP configuration—and it was successful!

Calico is a top-ranked solution on the CNI list. It solves problems in terms of both performance and security and is also highly skilled in BGP and NetworkPolicy.

Q: How would you describe your use case? 

This would be slightly different from the business problem we just discussed. Our use case is a lift and shift of an existing legacy application to the cloud.

Q: Are there any significant metrics around this project that you can share?

Yes. Before, Kube-router consumed most of our CPU. The yellow field in the chart below shows how much CPU was being used before we implemented Calico. In comparison is the green field, which represents the CPU usage after implementing Calico. As you can see, Calico helped us reduce a significant amount of CPU usage, so the results really stood out to us.

Chart: CPU usage comparison of before and after implementing Calico

Q: Are there other significant, adjacent pieces of the technology stack that played a role? How was the integration between Calico and those pieces?  

We have configured several of our Windows nodes using the Calico Windows Agent. Kube-router CNI-related implementations were very easy. The Calico integration was seamless.

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

The Calico community is in a great place right now. Calico manages the documentation and training processes very well. The community has also been expanding with its Big Cat Ambassador program. We also appreciate the community and practical applications the Calico workshops provide.

I’d like to thank Burak 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 the Community 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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