Kubernetes fundamentals: how it works and what benefits it offers

The need to release applications quickly, securely, and automatically finds a powerful ally in an orchestrator. Kubernetes, the open-source platform for container management, is the key tool that allows teams to focus on application development, simplifying and automating the release phases and achieving greater application scalability.

In this article you will discover Kubernetes fundamentals and how to answer the questions: "What is Kubernetes? What do you need to know to develop on Kubernetes?".

 

What is Kubernetes and how its components work

Kubernetes is a Docker container orchestrator that is a tool for managing the containers in which the application software is hosted. It enables IT teams to standardize operations and raise the bar on abstraction in software management. Kubernetes guarantees the continuity and performance of applications.

Let's see the fundamental components of Kubernetes:

  • Container. It is the software unit that contains the application. By packing all the code and its dependencies, the application becomes independent of the operating system and other software components.

  • Docker. It is one of the most popular ways to isolate applications and their dependencies in virtual containers. Unlike the isolation obtained with virtual machines, Docker containers can share the same instances of the operating system and allow you to more efficiently exploit the available memory and processing resources.

  • Pod. Pods are superstructures that facilitate the use of containers in the most complex software environments. They allow you to group multiple containers together with storage, network specifications, and other information that the services require to work. In this way pods can encapsulate the entire information systems and they can be created, modified and destroyed according to the needs.

  • Namespace. It is the name with which the orchestrator identifies the virtual clusters that are hosted within the physical clusters -  namely the pool of interconnected servers in the data center. Creating namespaces is useful in large corporate application environments, where you need to control and assign (pro quota) portions of the resources present in the physical cluster to individual departments, teams or projects.

 

Why you need an orchestrator

Using an orchestrator in an enterprise environment allows you to properly manage containers and, consequently, improve the productivity of IT teams by automating activities related to application deployments and resource management. For example, autoscaling and load balancing services optimize the use of resources, allocating them where necessary.        
Similarly, the orchestrator can automate the restart of application containers whose operation has failed due to technical problems, ensuring the speed of the processes that serve business continuity. IT teams can benefit from immediate visibility into the status of services and the use of resources through a centralized console.

The ability to standardize and automate the resources provisioning make the work of development teams efficient and make it possible to accompany the evolution of application software with the most adequate resources. On the business side, the use of Kubernetes allows you to improve the time-to-market of new software projects, as well as minimize damage in the event, for example, of cyber attacks. These benefits can be found not only for cloud native applications, but also in the context of projects migration from monolithic legacy software to microservices.

 

Kubernetes to support software “architectural styles”

Where to start when approaching the development with Kubernetes?

As we often say, there is not just one way to develop on Kubernetes, but there are several architectural styles.

The simplest architectural style, known as single page application (SPA), consists of an application running in the browser that interacts, through gateways, with both the APIs that expose the business logic and the static presentation assets.
Another way, known as backend for frontend (BFF), sees applications divided into microservices, each of which represents a business logic; the BFF exposes the APIs that simplify the user interaction. Another style is the Saga Pattern (SP) which responds to contexts where services do not perform point-to-point communication, but use a message broker with the publish & subscribe logic.

As anticipated, it happens to have pre-existing legacy systems. Sometimes integration can be accomplished by having microservices that call legacy services via API. Other times, however, Kubernetes can be used to create a more sophisticated system, which decouples reading and writing operations on data  from legacy systems, creating an architecture for real-time management of information on all channels.

Conclusions

In this article we have seen the fundamentals of Kubernetes, which is today the keystone to create an application architecture capable of evolving together with business needs. Kubernetes is the tool that allows you to speed up all the processes, reduce time-to-market of new digital products, improve scalability and reduce IT costs by embracing the cloud-native development paradigm. 

 

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