In the current IT landscape, phrases such as “containerized applications” and “container deployment” are thrown around so often, that the meanings and connotations behind them often get tampered, and ultimately forgotten.
In the case of Kubernetes, however, the opposite seems to be coming true. Although it might seem hyperbolic to refer to the modern interaction with software management as being heavily influenced by the “Age of Kubernetes”- the accelerating growth of Kubernetes as one of the most widely adopted open-source project, with over 2300 active contributors to Kubernetes’s repository on GitHub bears witness to the massive influence that the orchestration platform has had.
Originally developed by Google, and launched in 2014- Kubernetes has come a really long way since it’s advent. Although there are other similar container orchestration platforms available on the market, the most notable ones being Docker Swarm and Apache Mesos; Kubernetes has established itself as the de-facto orchestration platform in use today.
Having said that, as a quick Google search might reveal- with a whopping 26,400,000 results- Kubernetes has risen to the top of the totem pole over the course of the year. However, before we can get into rationalizing the reasons that drive the world’s obsession with the container orchestration platform, we’d like to provide our readers with a quick snapshot of everything Kubernetes is and everything that it is not.
Kubernetes: A Brief Overview
The transition from the traditional deployment era, where organizations used to rely on applications being run on physical servers to the virtual deployment era, in which the highly popular concept of virtualization was introduced- to the container deployment era, which saw the employment of ‘containers’ that are significantly lighter in weight, as compared to virtual machines (VMs)- these changes ultimately led to the creation of a container orchestration market, which is a huge contributing factor to the growing popularity of Kubernetes and other similar platforms.
Having said that, however, as we’ve already mentioned above- the features that Kubernetes offers to organizations enable it to have a certain edge over its competition. Originally developed by Google in 2014, having descended from an old-school container orchestration platform called ‘Borg,’ Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform that reduces the workload for both large and small companies, by automating the deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications.
Bearing witness to the effectiveness and reliability of the container orchestration application is the fact that it is imbursed by gigantic digital entities such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, and Red Hat. Furthermore, on their website, Kubernetes cites several testimonials from colossal corporations such as Spotify, Nav, Capital One, Comcast- which further goes on to demonstrate the reliability of the benefits offered by the container orchestration platform.
What functions does Kubernetes perform?
Taking into consideration the fact that most organizations, regardless of how large or small they might be, are deploying hundreds and thousands of containerized instances daily- the complexity of the situation requires platforms such as Kubernetes to step in and help organizations manage and automate containerized processes while taking into account the context of the microservice architecture as well.
Kubernetes aids development teams by deploying applications and helping in the management of the containerized applications by performing the following functions:
- Deployment: Perhaps the most significant function that Kubernetes performs includes the deployment of a specified number of containers to a host, along with ensuring that the containers are functioning as they are supposed to, that is, without any malfunctions, etc.
- Rollouts: A rollout refers to a change in the original deployment of a container. Kubernetes allows development teams to take the management of their containerized tasks to the next level, by automating the initiation of the container deployment, along with offering them the option of pausing, resuming or rolling back any rollouts.
- Discovery of service: Kubernetes automates the exposure of a specified container to the internet, or to other containers, by allotting to containers a DNS name or an IP address. Since the increasing threats and risks of cyber-attacks, it has become essential to protect your IP address. To do so use a VPN as it not only hides the IP address but also provides protection against IP spoofing.
- Managing storage: A monumental advantage that Kubernetes offers organization is the liberty to allocate persistent local or cloud storage to specified containers as needed.
- Load scaling and balancing: Kubernetes allows for organizations to maintain stability across the network by automatically load balancing and scaling in the instance that traffic to a certain container increases.
- Self-healing: A feature unique to Kubernetes, the widely popular container orchestration platform seeks to improve the availability on the network through restarting or replacing a failed container. Moreover, Kubernetes can also automate the removal of containers that appear to be damaged, or fail to meet the health-check requirements.
Are there any limitations to Kubernetes’s power?
Up till now, we’ve done nothing but present facts regarding Kubernetes. Often times, however, organizations tend to overlook the limitations of an effective management tool. Despite the numerous advantages that organizations get to reap with the integration of Kubernetes, the fact that Kubernetes is not a traditional software and functions on a container level, rather than at the hardware-level should always be kept in mind.
In order to make the most effective use of the container orchestration platform, it is essential that companies take into account the limitations of Kubernetes- which consist of the following:
- Kubernetes does not build applications, neither does it deploy source code.
- Kubernetes is not responsible for providing organizations with services centric to applications. Examples of these application-level services include middleware (message buses) and other data-processing frameworks such as Spark, caches, amongst many others.
- Kubernetes does not offer to organizations logging, monitoring, and alerting solutions, instead it provides integrations and mechanisms which then enable organizations to collect and export metrics.
In addition to these limitations, it should also be mentioned that despite the constant referral of Kubernetes as an orchestration tool- it is not just that. Instead of simply orchestrating or managing the containerized applications by propagating a defined workflow, Kubernetes eliminates the need for orchestration altogether and consists of components that constantly drive the current state of the network into providing the desired result to the organization. Furthermore, Kubernetes also gives rise to a system without any centralized control, which makes it much more easier to use.
Explaining Kubernetes’s popularity
Now that we’ve hopefully jogged up our reader’s memories by providing them with a rundown of everything Kubernetes- let’s get down to business. Taking into consideration the ever-increasing growth and popularity of the container orchestration platform, particularly it’s a spike in 2019- readers might be left wondering with the question; “Why is Kubernetes so popular?”
Well, the short explanation behind Kubernetes’s popularity is simple- it’s highly effective. The longer explanation, on the other hand, however, can be broken down into the following main reasons:
- Kubernetes saves time: In the digital age, time is more crucial than ever. As more and more organizations get digitized, time plays a monumental role in routine operations, especially where development teams are concerned.
The staggering popularity of Kubernetes is deeply rooted in how time-effective, a platform is since it allows organizations to effectively handle all facets of container orchestration without having to fill out forms or send emails to request new machines to run applications.
2. Kubernetes is highly cost-effective: For most enterprises, the driving force behind their operations is the knowledge that their business goal is being fulfilled. Kubernetes can actually contribute to that since it allows for organizations to partake in better resource utilization.
As we’ve already mentioned above, Kubernetes is a much more improved alternative to VMs, since it focuses solely on containers, which are light-weight, and thus require less CPU and memory resources.
3. Kubernetes can run on the cloud, as well as on-premise: An unprecedented, but widely welcomed feature that Kubernetes offers is that it is cloud-agnostic.
The term ‘cloud-agnostic’ implies that Kubernetes can run on cloud-based services, as well as on-premise. This offers organizations with the luxury of not having to redesign or alter their infrastructure or applications to accommodate Kubernetes. Additionally, companies are also providing software that helps organizations manage the running of Kubernetes, whether it is on a cloud-based server or on-premise.
We hope that we’ve made it clear what Kubernetes does, and the reasons that led to its rise in popularity. Having said that, however, it is still equally important that organizations take into consideration the limitations of the container orchestration system, and integrate it within their companies smartly- which ultimately enables organizations to leverage better benefits!
Rebecca James is an enthusiastic cybersecurity journalist. A creative team leader, editor of PrivacyCrypts.