2024 Predicted Kubernetes Trends: Which Ones Should You Pay Attention To?
November 20, 2023

Dave Sudia
Ambassador Labs

Kubernetes technology is on a rapid growth trajectory, projected to increase from USD 1.8 billion in 2022 to USD 7.8 billion by 2030

The largest takeaway we should all be focused on for 2024 is this: Kubernetes technology is on a rapid growth trajectory, projected to increase from USD 1.8 billion in 2022 to USD 7.8 billion by 2030 (Research and Markets). In fact, 80% of developers surveyed in DZone's annual Kubernetes in the Enterprise 2023 report expressed that their organization was currently running Kubernetes clusters, and the report suggests that the Kubernetes industry may be close to reaching its saturation point.

It is evident that it's a good time to be part of the Kubernetes and cloud-native story. But, since Ambassador Labs was one of the partners on the research report, I wanted to dive in further into some of their trends and findings and add on my thoughts for 2024.

1. Java & K8s: An Indicator of Enterprise Arrival

It was unsurprising, given that DZone is a Java-heavy focused publication, that surveyed developers (74%) reported Java has to be their most-used language. Most of us, especially those at large enterprises, have used Java for decades and I appreciate that it still remains a relevant, modern language for building big applications.

However, I think in 2024, we can expect more developers to move their Java apps to K8s, not to rewrite them. And it's worth noting that if it's the biggest organizations who are already using Java, they're also going to be the ones quickest to adopt Kubernetes. The big players and late adopters are here, with the report stating, "Nearly all respondents at organizations with 100+ employees said that they use application containers (99%)."

The presence of industry giants in the Kubernetes space means you could be missing out if you haven't yet started investigating how Kubernetes technology can seamlessly fit into your tech stack and enhance your workflow efficiency.

2. Cost Continues to Be a Struggle

In advantages and disadvantages, "Cost" is the only item that worsened for more people than it improved in the Dzone report. Given the economic struggles in big tech over the past two years, many of us have had to figure out how to get scrappy and do more with fewer resources, less budgets, and fewer team members.

It would be expected that looking into the new year, especially in this macro-economy in tech, cost management will continue to be a big factor. I don't think we'll be seeing the big tech boom we saw in 2019 and 2020 anytime soon, folks. That means that developer teams and their program leaders will have to remain vigilant in how they continue to innovate and create with a limited capacity. And for those of us in the software vendor world, we'll have to work harder to reach developers where they're at and build tools that provide a need rather than a want.

3. Developers' Pain Points Persist: Performance Tuning and Visualizing Runtime

Continuing with the "do more with less concept," this aligns with the top developer pain point identified in the trends report: performance tuning. Approximately 60% of Kubernetes developers reported facing performance tuning, which involves enhancing system performance.

If you can't optimize your application to use the fewest resources or optimize your cluster to run tightly with app needs, costs will spike. My prediction is that any tool that offers cost reductions from running with high performance or any tools offering simpler pricing plans and simpler configuration or optimization will be well-positioned to be more successful in 2024.

"Visualizing what's happening at runtime" is another pain point that nearly 40% of the Kubernetes developers surveyed are feeling. This pain point often requires greater observability from metrics and traces, but could also be solved by having tools in your tech stack that better connect you to your cluster and your development process. This would also remove the need for more YAML (which was the 2nd biggest pain point listed by developers at around 55%), and the less YAML we use, the better.

To combat this pain point, I'd expect that we'll see more and more developers seeking out tools that offer a streamlined development process, enable immediate feedback, or offer something that can bridge the gap between local and remote Kubernetes development environments.

Expanding on the visualization problem, it's clear now that web applications have saturation in K8s. Now, we're seeing a greater adoption and experimentation of other apps, including "serverless" and apps based on message queues. Unfortunately, these actually add to the visualization problem as most tooling is built around web network calls and needs to catch up to keep pace.

A Parting Thought …

In the end, a critical mass of adoption is already here and even the late adopters are now adopting Kubernetes technology and tools. The problems that still need to be solved are "how do we make using K8s pleasant," and "how can we simplify the optimization process."

TL/DR, the developer experience of those mass Kubernetes adopters now needs to be the focus heading into 2024. The people are here, now how do we make them stay? I imagine that the early stages of creation and adoption of "platforms" based on Kubernetes will help with some of that, but we all need to be prepared to step up our game when it comes to the full end-to-end developer experience.

Dave Sudia is Director of DevRel at Ambassador Labs
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