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On prem Kubernetes made easy with Portainer

Customer Story: Koton

Business overview

Business Focus
Textile company
Based in Turkey
With more than 500 retail stores in Turkey and around the world.
Key Need For Portainer
To provide a simpler way for Koton to learn and understand Kubernetes, to speed up the teams skills and experience with Kubernetes and easily deploy and manage apps. 
Container Platform

The Challenge

ilionx offer virtual machine management services and needed a simple way to deploy and manage apps on behalf of customers. They began their containerization journey in 2020, with Docker containers running in VMs orchestrated by Kubernetes.

Remy Simons, Hosting Team Lead was in charge of the project. For Remy, it was important to find a highly functional solution, as well as a cost effective one. Initially, Remy and the Hosting Team built a platform using Rancher and Kubernetes however, they quickly realised that Rancher was too complex for them. They simply didn’t have the time to learn it.

Koton is a large, textile company based in Turkey with more than 500 retail stores in Turkey and around the world. Like many organizations, Koton is on a journey to containerization and they decided to use Kubernetes deployed in an on-prem environment as their preferred configuration.

Koton has around 100 people in its IT team with 25 software developers. The team has little K8s expertise but recognizes containers/Kube is the future. With limited in-house knowledge of Kubernetes, they set out to find a Kubernetes management platform that would allow them to use Kubernetes, whilst avoiding the overhead of having to learn how to write YAML etc.

The Decision to Choose Portainer

Remy researched “alternatives to Rancher” and discovered Portainer. He signed up for Portainer’s Take5 program, which gave him the first 5 nodes of Portainer Business Edition for free. Remy said, “Portainer suited us well, it’s not overly complex and we could get Portainer up and running ourselves. We did experience an issue with the environment not going back online after redeployment, so I reached out to the Portainer support team and was able to get this problem resolved quickly.

Suat Urgurlu, Associate Director, Technology Solutions and IT Security said “We initially looked at Red Hat’s OpenShift, however we found it to be too expensive and complicated for this beginning stage in our journey”. Instead, Suat’s research into alternative container management platforms for OpenShift, brought him to Portainer.

Suat was pleasantly surprised at Portainer’s ability to deliver on deployment of apps, as well as the critical security and governance features that would allow Koton’s team to safely manage the containers. Suat also found Portainer’s price per node model easy to understand and excellent value for money. He decided that Portainer would allow the Koton team to educate themselves on containerized apps without having to make a large, upfront investment.

Suat said, “We picked Portainer over OpenShift because it was really easy to set up and use. It contains all the features we need and few that we don’t. The GUI is intuitive and the team has found it easy to integrate into their workflows. Compared to other products in the market, Portainer represents great value for money, particularly given the quality of support we’ve received.

The Results

Thanks to Portainer, ilionx have been able to give each of their customers a login [to Portainer] that gives them the ability to manage their own apps. Not unexpectedly, customer have limited experience with Kubernetes, however, using Portainer for just a few weeks, customers have quickly adapted to the technology.

Remy said, “Giving our customers the ability to login and check and reboot containers themselves has been a huge win for us. We love helping our customers and we want to spend time working with them on other more complex tasks that provide them more value, rather than jobs like rebooting containers.”

Portainer has helped ilionx deliver an improved, self-service platform to their customers, while reducing load on their own team. By giving the customers the power to solve smaller issues themselves, the time now spent with customers is more effective.

Portainer enabled the Koton team to easily deploy and manage their first containerized apps and Suat expects that number to scale to 100s of apps over the course of the next few months. Koton’s apps are all based on a micro-service architecture and are critical to the running of the business.

Suat continued “With Portainer, deployment time has decreased significantly. It takes very little time for developers to publish the apps into our production environment using the GUI. We plan to move to an automated GitOps-based deployment model in due course, which is another reason for selecting Portainer as it has a GitOps engine already integrated into the platform”.

Suat was able to set up the platform himself using Portainer’s extensive documentation and has found Portainer to be comprehensive, easy to use and highly fault tolerant.

In fact the team could not believe how easy it was to use Kubernetes.

Suat asked "When should we decide to use these other platforms such as OpenShift. For now, I can see I can do nearly everything here, what other requirements would force us to use something else?" Suat's team went on to comment, "we are not used to managing these things so easily. Sometimes we wonder if there's something else because it is so easy." CEO Neil Cresswell replied, "try it without Portainer, and you will see it's not so easy, the most difficult part - the set up and implementation - you are already passed that point now." 

Koton will continue to work on the platform to make it more efficient. They will continue to add on more apps in the future and also start to use tools such as Prometheus and Grafana for improved analytics.

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