Since Google open-sourced the Kubernetes project in 2014, Kubernetes applications have quickly become the default cloud container for most businesses. In fact, a recent Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) survey found that 96% of developers and engineers are using or evaluating the technology for their organization. Those surveyed were IT professionals from across the board, from public, private, and NGOs, to start-ups to the enterprise sector. Trusted even by many global enterprises, it's fair to say that Kubernetes is now mainstream.
This isn't surprising when we consider the challenges of digital transformation faced by every company during the last few years. With IT teams increasingly prioritizing supporting agile development and rapid innovation, their use of containers has increased. Containers support this way of working in large part because of their portability — they are essentially mobile and can run from anywhere, whether from a developer's laptop, testing and production environments, or in on-premise, private, or public clouds. However, the more containers a development team uses, the more chaotic it becomes to manage them.
Kubernetes can help manage this challenge. It provides IT teams with an open-source API that orchestrates containers and controls how and where each container will run, over a fleet of worker nodes, based on what compute resources are required and what's available. As an orchestration tool, it solves many IT issues that are, unfortunately, part and parcel of using containers, including the need for high availability, reliability, scalability, fault tolerance, and spiraling costs. It's clear Kubernetes makes sense for organizations looking to manage containerized applications, but it's also a smart tool to help scale digital transformations — here's why:
1. Kubernetes helps to balance productivity with safety
As this incredibly fast-paced environment continues to shorten innovation cycles, Kubernetes abstracts away many of the monotonous tasks hindering the productivity of developers and DevOps engineers. Kubernetes allows complete encapsulation of the application and dependencies, allowing developers to pick from tooling they're comfortable with. The declarative and ops-friendly approach of Kubernetes fuels quicker deployment and feedback loops, enabling organizations to identify potential issues and security concerns sooner, thereby getting to market quicker.
A team using a Kubernetes environment can give developers enough freedom while keeping their piece of mind on safety. This is more important than it might seem, as operations teams historically fear giving developers too much space, believing that loosening the reins will result in security issues quickly becoming problematic.
2. Without Kubernetes, it's easy to overspend and over-provision
According to Gartner, by 2026, 20% of all enterprise applications will run in containers — up from fewer than 10% in 2020. And 90% will be running containerized applications in production, up from 40% now. Dealing with large-scale complex applications can be incredibly costly. Containers themselves provide a more cost-effective deployment than traditional or virtual deployment, for example, by starting up faster and consuming fewer resources. Kubernetes takes this further and helps IT leaders significantly reduce the costs of large-scale containerized ecosystems.
Without Kubernetes, it's easy to over-provision hardware or virtual infrastructure for unplanned spikes. This is something that organizations did purposefully in the past because administrators often tended to conservatively handle unanticipated spikes or just because they found it difficult to manually scale containerized applications.
But, orchestrators like Kubernetes have built-in features such as auto-scaling that enable you to automatically respond based on the needs of your application and the incoming traffic and load processed by your applications. Overall, this leads to greater efficiency in responding to changes in environmental demands and prevents you from paying for resources you do not need.
3. Kubernetes comes with a rich open source ecosystem
In the early days of orchestration, several different open source projects were in the mix. Although only eight years old, Kubernetes has quickly risen to become the industry standard for deploying containers into production. The rising popularity of Kubernetes has therefore given it a broad community of end-users, contributors, and maintainers, that IT leaders can rely on for support and advice when they're faced with technical issues.
Moreover, there is now a rich ecosystem of add-ons and complementary software applications, which extend the platform's functionalities and range of capabilities. For instance, if you have a specific requirement that Kubernetes cannot meet adequately, there is a reasonably good chance that there exists an add-on to address your particular use case. As we implemented Kubernetes, we saw that these tools — most notably Helm Charts — significantly reduced our deployment time.
Helm Charts or pre-configured Kubernetes packages were a major help in reducing the complexity of deploying applications on Kubernetes. They make application updates and releases repeatable, and there isn't further need for reconfigurations in deploying. Rather than worrying about deploying software, engineers can stay focused on writing software, and Helm takes care of deployments.
It's clear then why most developers love the platform. Suddenly, they don't need to fight fires as frequently, and they can work more efficiently to deploy and scale at a faster scale than ever before. In fact, as Kubernetes popularity increases, it's becoming so useful, it's almost invisible. Chris Aniszczyk, CTO, CNCF says, "What's fascinating about this is how quickly Kubernetes has grown from a niche technology to something so utterly ubiquitous that folks don't even know they are using technologies built on it."