Kubernetes Adoption Rises But Challenges Still Remain
August 24, 2021

Marie Ponseel
Traefik Labs

In 2021, IT spending has continued to increase around the world as businesses remain working remotely, and hybrid office spaces become the new normal. By year end, Gartner forecasts that IT spending will hit $4.1 trillion — an increase of 8.4% from 2020.

As businesses look to digitally transform and innovate, emerging technologies such as Kubernetes and microservices are helping drive this spend upward, but with increased adoption comes increased operational challenges and growing pains.

Without sufficient tools, development teams employing Kubernetes spend a significant amount of time locating and fixing bugs, and often have to log directly into clusters to gain insight into the applications contained within them. Even when organizations have tools designed to alleviate these challenges, the setup, configuration, and scaling of Kubernetes clusters presents new issues.

To gain more insight into the challenges organizations face while using Kubernetes,Traefik Labs conducted a survey of over 1000 software engineers, DevOps practitioners, SREs and more. The results of this survey identified several issues IT teams face with Kubernetes, and help explain what's hindering the emerging technology's implementation.

Early Adopters Surge Ahead

While more than two thirds of the survey respondents reported using Kubernetes-based container orchestrators, 58% of these users are still running less than half of their business critical applications through the platform.

This could suggest that the majority of Kubernetes users are still early in their adoption of the technology. Comparatively, those familiar with the technology, roughly a quarter of the survey respondents, stated they run more than 75% of their business-critical applications on Kubernetes.

Lack of Observability and Insight

To make matters complicated, 60% of Kubernetes users responded to say they use multiple ingress technologies, and 61% reported the use of more than one or more public cloud providers. For software engineers operating in environments like these observability becomes a large challenge as it's difficult to obtain a clear view of everything deployed within clusters.

While some organizations leverage observability platforms to help address these issues, 48% of survey respondents reported they still have trouble setting up and configuring their clusters, and 28% find that maintenance of the orchestration platform is too challenging. In addition, respondents indicated the information received from these platforms is too generic and not actionable enough to accurately monitor and troubleshoot clusters.

The main issue survey respondents identified with troubleshooting was knowing which tool to use. Having too many available solutions and no clear way of observing clusters can overwhelm engineers, and is leading 50% of Kubernetes users to log directly into the clusters themselves to identify issues. As a result, 55% of Kubernetes users are having to spend hours fixing issues rather than minutes.

Scaling Pains

Although many organizations leverage Kubernetes in one way or another, due to the challenges identified above, scaling these implementations is a lingering challenge. When survey respondents were asked what the reasons were behind not scaling up, or increasing Kubernetes usage, the top response was cost management (44%). Knowing there's a plethora of solutions being used by teams leveraging Kubernetes, it's not surprising that costs are running high — especially seeing as issues that arise with the platform can require hours to fix.

These challenges exacerbate an environment that's already complex and widely distributed with multiple cloud environments, networking ingresses, hosting providers, and dozens of other tools. Those organizations looking to adopt Kubernetes or expand their usage of it are in dire need of solutions to help with configuration, scalability and maintenance of clusters. But, instead of just adding another tool to their toolbox, a better solution would be domain-agnostic tools that work out of the box and provide a holistic approach to managing dispersed environments.

Marie Ponseel is VP of Marketing at Traefik Labs
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