Why Kubernetes Will Be A Transformational Cloud Technology..

It is 2018 and Enterprise IT does not question the value of Containerized applications anymore. Given the move to adopting DevOps and Cloud Native Architectures, it is critical to leverage container oriented capabilities to bring together development and operations teams to solve Digital business challenges. However, the lack of a standard control plane for these containerized deployments was always going to be a challenge. Google’s Kubernetes (kube or k8s), an open source container orchestration platform,  is rapidly becoming the defacto standard on how Cloud Native applications are architected, composed, deployed, and managed.

Kubernetes outshines competition…

First off, a deep dive on Kubernetes is provided below for those who are beginning their evaluation of the platform.

Kubernetes – Container Orchestration for the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC)..(5/7)

With it’s Google pedigree, K8s is the only container orchestration platform that is proven at scale in the web-scale, cloud-native world. K8s predecessors Omega/Borg manage vast containerized deployments that deliver services such as Google Search, Gmail, and YouTube.

Let us enumerate both the technology and business advantages that are captured in the below illustration.

Technical Advantages…

With its focus on grouping containers together into logical units called pods, K8s enables lightweight deployment of microservice based multi-tier applications. The service abstraction then gives a set of logical pods an external facing IP address.A Service can be discovered by other services as well as scaled and load balanced independently. Labels (key, value) pairs can be attached to any of the above resources. K8s is designed for both stateless and stateful app as it supports mounting both ephemeral as well as persistent storage volumes.

Service as an architectural construct called (a group of pods exposed to the external world via an IP Address) enables a high-level focus on the deployment, performance, and behavior of an application rather than its underlying infrastructure.

Kubernetes also provides autoscaling (both up and down) to accommodate usage spikes. It also provides load balancing to ensure that usage across hosts is evenly balanced. The Controller also supports rolling updates/canary deployments etc to ensure that applications can be seamlessly and incrementally upgraded.

Developers and Operations can dictate whether the application works on a single container or a group of containers without any impact to the application.

These straightforward concepts enable a range of architectures from the legacy stateful to the microservices to IoT land – data-intensive applications & serverless apps – to be built on k8s.

A Robust Roadmap…

With Google and Red Hat leading a healthy community of contributors, the just-released Kubernetes 1.9 added many useful features. First, it provides a higher degree control over clusters, added detailed storage metrics and makes it an extensible architecture. It also improves many aspects of the API. It also moves Windows support into beta. Coupled with work ongoing in the Open Service Broker API, this moves the needle on support for hybrid architectures one step closer. Just to provide an idea of the robustness of development, this release is expected to include 38 features spanning security, cluster lifecycle management, APIs, networking, storage and additional functionality. [1]

Business & Ecosystem Advantages…

K8s as an open source orchestrator is now a foundational component of market-leading platforms such as Red Hat’s OpenShift and (IaaS Clouds such as) AWS ECS Container Service/Azure/VMWare Pivotal CloudFoundry. There is no fear of lockin around this container standard. 2017 saw a shakeout in this technology segment as competition to K8s essentially folded and announced plans to support the orchestrator. Platforms such as Docker, Mesos, CoreOS now integrate with & support Kubernetes at different levels.

Over the last three years, they have now emerged over 50 Kubernetes powered platforms and distributions. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) Kubernetes Conformance model includes API standards for networking and storage. The key benefit to developers is that applications coded for k8s are pretty much lockin free from both an orchestration and storage standpoint.

Credit – CNCF

In the last year, k8s has made tremendous strides in project documentation, developer help & quickstarts, and on improving the overall operator experience.  The 2017 KubeCon held in Austin, TX drew 4200 attendees and had multiple tracks covering everything from CI/CD Pipelines, Operational experience and Special Interest Groups (SIG) covering a range of non-functional areas such as performance and security.

The Road Ahead…

The Cloud Native landscape has an amazing amount of change every year but it is a safe bet that Kubernetes given its massive open source ecosystem and modular architecture and design is a safe bet to emerge as the defacto standard in container orchestration.

Four strategic areas of advances for Kubernetes in 2018 include –

  1. Playing the container factotum for a range of cloud architectures
  2. Refinement of k8s deployments around cloud native microservices based architectures. These include operating in an architecture with Service Meshes, Serverless Computing & Chaos Engineering concepts
  3. Increased vertical industry adoption especially around OpenStack NFV and Telco
  4. Adoption in hybrid cloud usecases

References…

[1] Kubernetes 1.9 – http://blog.kubernetes.io/2017/12/kubernetes-19-workloads-expanded-ecosystem.html

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