Container-based microservices architecture is a widely popular DevOps trend. This technology has significantly changed the way operations and development teams create, test, and deploy modern software.
Enterprises and developers love it because it helps make application development faster and simpler. However, by creating a completely new infrastructure ecosystem, the use of containers has also introduced new complexities and challenges.
With more companies—both large and small—deploying thousands of container instances every day, they need to find a way to manage this complexity of scale. This is where Kubernetes comes in.
But what is Kubernetes, and where does it fit into the container and cluster management space?
The Importance of Containers
Software developers must ensure that the application will still run reliably when migrated from one computing environment to another. An example of this is when moving an application from an on-premise server to a virtual machine (VM) in the cloud or from a staging environment to production.
However, applications that come from different environments have different security and network requirements, making them incompatible with each other.
Containers are designed to address this problem.
All components of the application in the development environment are bundled up into one package, creating environmental consistency. This allows developers to deploy applications faster and more reliably, regardless of the deployment environment.
So, by using containers to package the application platform and its dependencies, the differences in the environment and underlying infrastructure, as well as the operating system distributions, are resolved. In fact, you’ll hardly forget about the infrastructure when you use containers.
Additionally, modular containers that make use of executable standalone software packages include every element and component required to execute an application. Organizations that are interested in a multi-cloud strategy can greatly benefit from using containers..
Implementing new applications or updating existing systems isn’t as easy due to software version and environment incompatibilities—even with DevOps. Containers make it easier to execute DevOps implementation, helping organizations enjoy its promise of rapid and efficient delivery. Containers help organizations avoid the headache of having to start over every single time they need to upgrade or update their applications.
However, you need the right tools to execute this DevOps approach effectively to application development and manage container platforms and technologies at an enterprise level. This is where container orchestration or container cluster management comes in.
A Closer Look at Container Orchestration
Containers have revolutionized the entire process of developing, deploying, and managing software.
The different services that make up an application are packaged into individual containers and deployed in a collection of virtual or physical machines in a containerized architecture. This article about kubernetes architecture describes this process in details. However, managing and scheduling separate containers of applications within multiple clusters have proven to be a challenge—giving rise to the need for container orchestration.
Container orchestration makes it easier to manage and schedule individual containers by automating the whole process. These orchestration platforms are based on open-source versions like Docker Swarm or Kubernetes.
What is Kubernetes?
Originally developed by Google, Kubernetes is an extensible, portable, open-source platform designed to automate scaling, deployment, and management of containerized workload and services. It also helps facilitate both automation and declarative configuration. It has a rapidly growing ecosystem that has widely available services, support, and tools. The Kubernetes project was open-sourced by Google in 2014.
In practice, Kubernetes is often used with the most popular containerization platform, Docker. However, it can also be used with other container systems, as long as they conform to the Open Container Initiative (OCI) standards for container runtimes and image formats. And, since this is an open-source technology, anyone who wants to run containers can freely use it—whether it’s on-premise, on the cloud, or both—with relatively few restrictions.
Choosing the Right Kubernetes Management Platform
Here are a few things you need to consider when choosing a Kubernetes management platform for your organization.
- Production-readiness. How ready is it for production? Product-readiness is a vital component of any technology, and that includes Kubernetes. So make sure that the platform you choose has all the features your organization requires to easily and effectively automate Kubernetes configuration. You also need to consider if it can automatically take care of all the management tasks in the cluster—as well as its ability to provide self-healing and scalability for your applications.
- Future-readiness. How ready is it for the future? When choosing a Kubernetes platform, make sure that it has features that will allow you to run your applications practically anywhere without the need to adapt to the new hosting environment. This way, you can easily configure them anytime you need to do so in the future.
- Ease-of-management. How easy is it to manage? Check if the Kubernetes platform includes automated intelligent alerts and monitoring. You should also make sure that the platform you choose provides you with a better way to view system status, events, errors, and warnings.
- Support and training. As much as possible, choose a Kubernetes management platform provider that can give you round-the-clock support and training.
When a provider, it’s vital that you choose one that offers a production-ready and cost-effective platform that streamlines and accelerates both the set-up and management of the Kubernetes clusters. This way, you can easily migrate your legacy systems to the cloud, while allowing you to seamlessly rebuild, replace, and maintain them in the background.
Kubernetes is a great DevOps solution for the automation of scaling, deployment, and operation of application containers—when implemented correctly. But if you get it wrong, you’ll end up adding an extra layer of complexity and cost to your infrastructure management.
This is because Kubernetes, for all its advantages, doesn’t come cheap. So save yourself the expense and headache by leveraging automation tools that provide future-readiness, production-readiness, ease-of-management, and the right support you require to use Kubernetes—minus the management overhead.
So, as your organization ramps up its container strategy, you need to educate yourself about all the possible difficulties and challenges—including misconceptions—regarding Kubernetes. Do a lot of research and compare different Kubernetes management platforms.