Selling Kubernetes Services: 3 Key Legal Considerations for Software Firms

Selling Kubernetes Services: 3 Key Legal Considerations for Software Firms

Kubernetes continues to gain ground as a container-orchestration platform of choice for many companies. Four years after Google’s release of Kubernetes 1.0, the platform holds ninth place in GitHub commits. Major firms such as VMWare and NetApp are doubling down on it, investing in Kubernetes startups and acquiring them left and right. And the number of software firms offering outsourced Kubernetes support to large companies expands each day.

As a software consultancy that supports Kubernetes, it’s important to understand some of the key legal issues that underpin your relationships with your clients. This article describes three legal best practices to ensure happy and profitable client relationships.

1. Clarify the Intellectual Property that you provide to your clients

Your client agreement should carefully define what exactly you are selling and what I.P. provisions apply to it. Firms that work with Kubernetes usually offer some combination of three products:

  • Professional services consisting of helping migrate clients to Kubernetes or manage clusters.
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products that enable customers to manage or work with their own clusters.
  • Writing new custom code to help clients manage Kubernetes. (Even if you are not retained primarily to write new code, your engineers may write new scripts on the fly during a project).

Legally, these are three different things, and client contracts should handle each of them appropriately. For example, if you offer a SaaS product, you’ll have a traditional SaaS clause that gives the client access or a license to it and defines the scope of permitted use. State whether you offer limited warranties or disclaim warranties altogether, and your liability clause should limit the amount you’ll compensate customers for harm caused by the product. If you offer a Service Level Agreement (SLA), check that your own product’s uptime guarantees do not exceed those offered by your hosting platform, or even better, don’t offer a detailed SLA at all.

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