Kubernetes: why it is so popular and who should use it

In modern corporate IT, where modular and scalable data centers coexist with cloud services to be able to guarantee the required performance and availability, one of the words that recur most often is Kubernetes. What is it about? Kubernetes is an open-source orchestration system for automating tasks such as distribution, management, positioning, resizing, and routing of containers that are used to run applications.

The container is the set of an application and its dependencies, that is isolated from other containers and from the operating system itself. The container is a logical structure that can be moved from one server to another, between on-premises and cloud systems: exactly like a physical goods container can be moved with a crane from a truck to air or naval cargo. Kubernetes is the orchestrator - in other words, the crane - that makes it easy to move the workload where it is most useful or convenient.

 

How Kubernetes was born and what it does

The orchestrator Kubernetes was initially designed by Google's engineers with the aim of improving administrators' ability to take advantage of container technology. The search engine giant needed to manage something like 2 billion container deployments per week, which used to be an automated job with Borg, which is the technology from which Kubernetes comes from.

Also known as "k8s" and "kube", Kubernetes has added other contributions from Red Hat to the initial Google code. It is today an open-source project controlled by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. As a matter of fact, Kubernetes is the most common open-source platform for automating container operations.

Thanks to the extensions developed by the open-source community and the contribution of other projects, Kubernetes is now able to integrate with networks, storage, security, telemetry, and other services. It manages to support complete container infrastructures that get rid of most of the manual processes needed to deploy and ensure application scalability.

 

The level of abstraction that helps container management

The efficiency and performance of business applications depend on the way containers are used in the operating environment. Containers, although efficient and fast, do not eliminate the complexity of corporate production environments, where many applications must cooperate to achieve a goal. When the number of containers increases, the management complexity grows exponentially.

Kubernetes addresses and solves this problem through various abstractions, including the Pod, the basic execution unit which is programmable by the cluster. A Pod is a group of one or more containers that share storage and networks, and instructions on how to run the containers. Pods are considered ephemeral: they can be created, eliminated, and moved to other nodes.

 

Who should use Kubernetes

Kubernetes allows you to easily and efficiently manage large clusters of servers on which the containers are used. These clusters can include on-premise servers, public, private or hybrid clouds and on which cloud-native applications that require high scalabilities, such as end-customer services or real-time data streaming, must run.

In the company, Kubernetes helps to manage production applications that take advantage of multiple containers and that need to be distributed on multiple host servers, which demand different security needs.

A Pod structure shares both storage and network information, as a specification for how to run the containers. So, Kubernetes adds the level of abstraction that allows IT teams to manage complex applications that use additional software as single instance containers and need shared resources.

Using Kubernetes simplifies activities that are hosted in other application platforms or other management systems. With cloud-native applications, Kubernetes makes containers reliable in difficult production environments. Those containers utilize clusters of physical and virtual machines.

 

All the activities we have seen guarantee business advantages in terms of better performance and significant cost savings. As a matter of fact, Kubernetes allows you to continuously integrate and release new versions of applications, automate rollouts and rollbacks, and improve product delivery performance. It also allows you to manage load balancing and the allocation of hardware resources, including memory, storage, and network bandwidth, with consequent savings. Finally, it is possible to horizontally scale Pods in containers as demand increases. For all these reasons, the development solutions based on Kubernetes are certainly the best solution for the realization of modern applications.

Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels

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