Kubernetes is one of the most popular and advanced orchestration tools that currently exist in the world of DevOps. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing open-source projects worldwide. Kubernetes or K8 is considered the next big wave in cloud computing and many businesses and start-ups wants to embrace Kubernetes. Cloud vendors like Amazon Web Services and Google provide managed Kubernetes services such as Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) respectively.
If you are interested in Kubernetes but aren’t sure if Kubernetes is right for your company or start-up or product development, then this article is for you. But before we dive into Kubernetes we need to understand Containers and why people are using it.
Kubernetes has attracted a lot of attention over the last few years and the reason for its sudden fame is due to the containers. A container is a mini-virtual machine that provides an easy way to package and deploy services. It allows for process isolation, immutability, efficient resource utilization, and are lightweight since they drew resources from the host operating system. It was a breakthrough for developers. However, the Container API is only good at managing a few containers at a time. Larger systems consist of hundreds if not thousands of containers. They all need to be managed so that the developer can do things like scheduling, load balancing, distribution and more. In this scenario, the system needs to have the ability to handle all these container instances. This is where Kubernetes comes in.
Kubernetes is a powerful container management tool that provides a platform for automating deployment, scaling, and operations of application containers across clusters of hosts. The platform can easily perform automated rollouts, rollbacks, and monitors the health of deployed services. Another great advantage of using Kubernetes is that it helps developers to scale services up or down based on utilization, making sure developers only running what they need, when they need it, wherever they need it. Above all, Kubernetes lowers the cost of cloud computing expenses and simplifies operations and architecture. Let’s take a look at the key features of Kubernetes;
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Kubernetes can easily find a particular container using its DNS name or by its IP address. If traffic to a particular container is high, Kubernetes can adjust the load balance by distributing the network traffic. This ensures that the entire deployment is stable.
Kubernetes allows developers to automatically mount a storage system of choice, such as local, or public cloud providers.
With Kubernetes, developers can set the desired state for deployed containers. The platform also allows the developer to change the actual state to the desired state at a controlled rate. For instance, Kubernetes can automate tasks such as the creation of new containers for deployment, removing existing containers and adopting all the resources to the new container.
Kubernetes has the ability to seal-heal and auto-replacement. This means Kubernetes automatically restarts containers that fail, kills containers that failed to respond to the user-defined health check, replaces containers, and doesn’t advertise them to end-users until they are ready.
Now that it’s clear what Kubernetes can do, the big question remains – Do you really need Kubernetes in your company/start-up? The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors. But it’s safe to say Kubernetes is not for everyone.
For those who are looking to transition to a microservice architecture then Kubernetes will be highly beneficial. Microservices are a software development technique that structures an application as a collection of loosely coupled services. In a microservices architecture, services are fine-grained and the protocols are lightweight. The benefit of decomposing an application into different smaller services is that it improves modularity. This makes the application easier to understand, develop, test, and become more resilient to architecture erosion.
If your product suffers from slow development time, then Kubernetes might help. Kubernetes along with Docker can easily and effectively manage the development and deployment lifecycle instead of allocating a team of developers. It also lets the developers spend their time more on other development work that gets products out the door quickly.
An advantage of using Kubernetes is that it has an efficient resource management model at the container, pod, and cluster level. This means you can significantly lower cloud infrastructure costs while ensuring your clusters always have available resources for running applications.
Kubernetes allows developer teams to update or deploy applications quickly over a large scale. Without Kubernetes, developer teams have to manually script their own deployment workflow. Kubernetes improves the reliability of application while significantly reducing the amount of time and resources spent on DevOps.
If your application is simple and relies on a monolithic architecture, you won’t be able to see the real benefits of containers and tools to orchestrate them. This is because every component of the application is interlinked in the monolithic architecture – From IO to the data processing to rendering. Meanwhile, Containers are used to separate applications into individual components. Hence it is not needed in simple lightweight applications.
Kubernetes is known for its notoriously steep learning curve. This means developers need to spend a good amount of time educating themselves with Kubernetes and addressing the challenges of a new solution. For smaller development teams, this can be very time-consuming. If your start-up or company is not willing to spend time learning then it’s probably not the choice for you.
While implementing Kubernetes you have to deal with its high-velocity development. Every three months there will be a new version of Kubernetes. To make matters worse, there’s only patch support for 9 months. Not to mention that alpha and beta features can break compatibility. So start-ups and companies looking to implement Kubernetes should definitely consider this factor.
Kubernetes is an exciting tool that greatly simplifies deploying applications. They make sure machines and resources are fully utilized. If you wish to deploy a fleet of similar services on large-scale infrastructure, Kubernetes is the way to go. It also readily integrates with any cloud portfolio. However, the downside is that Kubernetes is significantly more complex. It’s not suitable for simple or lightweight applications. It has a steep learning curve.
The takeaway here is, you don’t need to use Kubernetes just because everybody else does. Many early-stage start-ups probably don’t need Kubernetes while many mature start-ups may already be invested in other technologies, so it wouldn’t be feasible to switch. It definitely makes sense for those start-ups looking to move from a ‘Minimum Viable cloud’ infrastructure that uses containers to something more stable. One needs to carefully evaluate their requirements before fixing a tool.