What is Kubernetes & Why use it?
The software development industry has undergone rapid transformations in the last decade. Most recently, the increasing popularity of containerization and microservices architecture is powering Kubernetes technology adoption worldwide.
Tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and IBM use Kubernetes for accelerating development and deployment. A Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) survey suggests that around 96% of organizations and 5.6 million developers use or are evaluating Kubernetes to manage, scale, and automate software development workflows.In the last five years, Kubernetes has emerged as a leading DevOps compatible technology by offering large-scale app deployment, microservices management, CI/CD software development, powerful computation, support for machine learning, and big data processing solutions
This blog post will cover what Kubernetes is, highlight its versatile features, and explain when and how it can be used.
What is Kubernetes?
To understand Kubernetes, it's important first to discuss the concept of containerization and orchestration systems. A container is a software package with system tools, libraries, and configurations required to run an application. Whereas container orchestration is the automation of individual container workloads and services for managing, scheduling, and deploying applications. Kubernetes is an open-source orchestration platform dedicated to containerized applications. Kubernetes allows running and managing containers along with automating and scaling deployments. It simplifies container orchestration and significantly reduces production issues.
Why Kubernetes Emerged and How It Gained Popularity
Kubernetes evolved from Google’s internal container orchestration system into an industry behemoth. Let’s learn more about the transition journey below.
Background of Kubernetes Development
During the traditional deployment era, organizations used physical servers to run applications, which led to resource allocation issues and application underperformance.Later, virtualization was introduced to run different applications independently on several virtual machines, providing better scalability and security. Using modern container technology, developers can split virtual servers and use containers for better OS utilization.
The Kubernetes Timeline
During 2003-2004, Google launched the Borg system, an internal cluster management system to handle thousands of applications. In 2013, Google transformed Borg into an Omega cluster management system, with enhanced scalability and flexibility for large clusters. Google introduced Kubernetes, an open-source version of the Borg, in 2014.Enterprise businesses and developers started adopting Kubernetes for developing large-level software solutions soon after its release. Kubernetes has now become the standard for managing microservices and running applications in the cloud at scale.
Major Components of Kubernetes Architecture
The Kubernetes system has different components with specific functions. Some major components of the Kubernetes framework are Pods, Nodes, Clusters, and Containers. Let's discuss them below.
Pods: A pod is the smallest unit managed by Kubernetes that holds a collection of containers. Containers grouped within the same pod share the same IP address, storage, and memory resources.
Nodes: A node in the Kubernetes architecture is a physical or virtual machine that runs pods. Nodes manage groups of pods that function together.
Cluster: A cluster is formed by aggregating all the components of Kubernetes architecture together. Clusters consist of nodes that host pods to run containerized applications.
Container: The container is a ready-to-run software package in Kubernetes that allows users to add or remove resources. While not a direct comparison, it is sort of like a mini virtual machine with an individual filesystem, memory, and CPU utilization. The Kubernetes framework does not necessarily provision containers. They are built using container runtime engines such as Docker or Podman.
Kubernetes has state-of-the-art features to facilitate container orchestration, maximize resource utilization, and cluster management. Some prominent features are listed below.
- Scalability: Scalability is the capacity of the system or application to manage growing demands by maintaining resources (storage, memory, processing power). The auto-scaling property of Kubernetes flexibly scales the resources based on usage and demand. For instance, Spotify, one of the top audio-streaming services, handles up to 10 million requests per second due to the Kubernetes auto-scaling property.
- Resilience: The resilience of a system is the ability to recover from an issue or incident. With the self-healing feature, Kubernetes monitors and replaces unhealthy containers, restarts and reschedules nodes that fail, and kills containers that don’t respond promptly. Capital One, a financial service provider, adopted Kubernetes to improve speed and resilience in their fraud/anomaly detection and credit decisioning systems. Now, they can deploy applications within two weeks, which previously took a quarter or longer.
- Persistence: Kubernetes allows users to have any persistent storage of their choice, including local storage or public cloud volumes. It offers persistent, projected, and ephemeral volumes. Moreover, Kubernetes provides volume snapshots, cloning, health monitoring, and dynamic provisioning features. As a result, even when a service goes down, the application continues to work properly.
- Load Balancing: Load balancing is the allocation and distribution of network traffic across several servers.Kubernetes is compatible with different load balancing strategies for preventing server overload and improving application responsiveness and availability. After its launch, Pokémon Go, the popular game developed in 2016, managed a 200% traffic spike using the Kubernetes framework.
How Is Kubernetes Different from Docker?
Kubernetes and docker are open-source cloud-native technologies designed for development and deployment with numerous features and service options. In this relationship, they are complementary. Docker creates, runs, manages, and shares individual containers that are orchestrated by Kubernetes. Kubernetes is ideal for large enterprises to run containerized applications in production. Docker is suitable for small projects to package containerized applications on one node or as a developer tool. Kubernetes and Docker are not alternatives; instead, both complement each other and can be used independently as well.
When To Use Kubernetes
With cloud-native solutions and containerization in high demand, developers are ready to explore and experience Kubernetes technology. Some of the reasons why developers should consider Kubernetes adoption include:
- Management and Deployment of Microservices: Microservices splits large-scale applications into smaller, manageable, and reusable components. Although microservices allow independent and less rigid infrastructure, it still requires team coordination to make the individual pieces run. Kubernetes can help allocate and predict resource utilization, inspect and share issues, support quick and easy deployments across all microservices, and manage the load by offering a common interface for the microservice-resilient structure.
- Container Orchestration: Containers are great for bundling and deploying services for process isolation and effective resource utilization. However, while implementing the project manually in production, a dedicated container management team is essential to handle, scale and deploy the containers. Kubernetes can easily handle all container operations and liberate the developers from extra labor.
- Management of Cloud Environment: In a microservice environment where applications are split into pieces and run via the cloud, organizations must choose the cloud host that caters to their business requirements. Kubernetes technology offers compatibility with various deployment options (private, public, or hybrid cloud) and lets organizations connect their application with users regardless of the location.
Common Kubernates Myths
While Kubernetes is highly-scalable and reliable, it is not the perfect solution for all projects. Kubernetes was originally developed to solve complex challenges and issues related to container-based deployments. Adopting complex Kubernetes technology for irrelevant or small-scale issues can be more daunting than handy. Some misconceptions about Kubernetes are:
- Kubernetes deploys source code. Kubernetes actually orchestrates containers that contain application source code. Developers have to write the code and manage it themselves. Also, developers must have enough exposure to Kubernetes to configure application code with it.
- Kubernetes provides microservices. Kubernetes only manages containerized services. It does not build microservices by itself. Microservices are executed by the containers.
- Kubernetes secures containers. Today, container security is a major threat, causing some severe incidents worldwide. Kubernetes is not a security platform. Hence, proper planning and a robust security policy are required to secure application data and build a reliable system.
- Kubernetes eliminates the need for an IT team. Kubernetes and containerization manage many aspects of application infrastructure that are usually the responsibility of the IT team. However, IT is still required for overseeing various organizational operations.
- Kubernetes provides an application configuration system. Application configuration is usually handled at the container level. Kubernetes only manages those containers.
Kubernetes framework is not recommended for:
- Small-scale or low-budget projects
- Simple or monolithic application architecture with minimal scaling
- Low load applications with a nominal processing capacity
- Less frequent application updates
Revamp Your Software Deployment With harpoon’s No-Code Kubernetes Solution
With increasing enterprise adoption rates, the Kubernetes framework will continue to support more applications and use cases. In the near future, modern technologies like Unikernels and Micro VMs (such as Firecracker) are expected to gain more popularity in the cloud community, working side-by-side with Kubernetes. Together, these technologies provide better security, a smaller footprint, workload isolation, and enhanced resource optimization. harpoon helps enterprise organizations deploy scalable cloud solutions using the simplest no-code drag-and-drop Kubernetes tool. Try harpoon for free today, or simply book a demo to learn more about it.