8 on K8s with Natan Yellin

Jul 20, 2022

Welcome to our series 8 on K8s where we interview interesting people in the Kubernetes community. In fact, check out our previous one with David Flanagan. If you’d like to be featured or know someone who’d be a great fit, tweet us and spread the love. 

Natan Yellin is the co-founder of Robusta.dev — an open source platform for tracking and responding to Prometheus alerts on Kubernetes. He is also a popular blogger and speaker.

What’s the last book you read?

Epic Tomatoes by Craig Lehoullie. I simply love gardening — it's my way of disconnecting after a long day in front of the screen.

What problem are you trying to solve?

I want healthier cherry tomatoes! Moving away from gardening and onto Robusta.dev, we're trying to make alerting not suck on Kubernetes. We’re engineers ourselves, and we got tired of Slack channels with too many alerts and too little time to investigate them. The big idea behind Robusta is that alerts can be self-investigating. Alerts come in from Prometheus and trigger automated runbooks, which gather context and investigate them. We all have the same alerts, more or less, so why not share the way we investigate them?

What’s an interesting trend you’ve observed in our industry?

The move from SaaS to self-hosted software. Behind this is the emergence of Kubernetes as a cloud operating system. Developers don’t write applications for AWS or for GCP anymore, rather, they target Kubernetes. This has made it easier than ever to self-host cloud software. You don’t need the vendor to run it for you, rather, they can give you a Helm chart, and you deploy it on your own cloud.

What’s the last thing you read about our industry that got you really fired up?

Someone wrote on LinkedIn that developers need to set CPU limits on their pods. This is wrong — CPU limits are an anti-pattern, and no one should set them at all. They don't do what people think they do.

What do you do that helps you maintain balance in your life?

I spoke about gardening earlier. The other thing that helps is family. It gives you a reason to disconnect as well as an external perspective.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Launching Robusta.dev was a big risk. We initially faced some resistance from venture capitalists who didn’t understand how open source can be profitable. Eventually, we found the right investors, and everything worked out. I also once tried growing tomatoes with hydroponics and it didn’t work. I’ll be sticking with soil in the future.

Who do you look up to in the industry?

Asaf Hefetz who co-founded Snyk. He has a rare combination of great technical skills and acute business acumen. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know him. He was one of the first angels to invest in Robusta.dev.

Can you hold two contradictory thoughts in your mind simultaneously without feeling uncomfortable?

Yep, and it's an important skill. Very few things in life are black and white. This is a trait that I learned from my grandmother. She’s the most easy-going person ever and is always capable of seeing all perspectives. Speaking of which, the two of us will be launching a series of Kubernetes videos soon, so subscribe to Robusta’s YouTube channel if you want to see it. How many DevOps videos do you see with someone’s grandmother? I promise you it will be good.

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