You’ve probably heard of Kubernetes and container technology. More and more organizations are using it. In fact, considering the importance of speedy development and the careful management of modern applications, you really can’t ignore this strong combination anymore.
But what is Kubernetes exactly? What do you use it for? In which situations does Kubernetes come in handy? And what are the main advantages and disadvantages of the platform? This article explains it in understandable language.
What are containers?
To better understand what Kubernetes is and actually does, let us first zoom in briefly on the phenomenon known as container technology. Think of containers as more compact and lighter versions of virtual machines (VMs). VMs work like complete mini computers. They host a full copy of the operating system, application, and all associated binaries and libraries, while containers only use portions of the host device’s operating system.
The big advantage of this compactness? You can run many more containers than VMs on the same piece of hardware. Containers use less resources, computing power and storage space than VMs. They only contain the necessary parts to run an application properly.
What is Kubernetes?
Kubernetes (Greek for “steersman”) comes into play when you want to create and manage containers. It is an open-source orchestration platform originally developed by Google to deal with large-scale container management. You can think of it as an operating system especially designed for the cloud. Thousands of companies now use Kubernetes, including more than half of the Fortune 100 ones.
Kubernetes consists of several components. These are:
- The Kubernetes API server. It provides the programming interface for controlling the platform.
- The Kubernetes Scheduler, which compares new to existing pods.
- The etcd database. This component creates a single point of truth in which the cluster stores its entire state.
- The Kubernetes controller manager ensures that the “desired state” is maintained.
- The cloud controller manager provides the integration with the platforms of public cloud providers.
- The Kubelet is an agent that allows you to create, register, control, update and possibly destroy pods.
Other important basic Kubernetes concepts and elements are:
- The nodes. These entities allow you to start up pods and build a cluster. Each cluster contains a master node and several worker nodes.
- A cluster is a group of nodes. You use a cluster to run container applications that you manage in Kubernetes.
- A container is an image that consists of software and all its dependencies.
- A pod is a container or set of containers that you run in your Kubernetes cluster.
Why and how do we use Kubernetes?
Why and how do we use Kubernetes? What can you do with it, and what advantages does using Kubernetes bring? The following overview provides the answers to these important questions.
Kubernetes allows you to automatically scale the number of containers. Depending on your current needs, you can add or remove containers. That is a very useful feature in the cloud. In quiet times, you can easily use fewer resources to save costs. And in peak periods, when more bandwidth or computing power is required, you can scale up at a superfast pace.
Managing different versions
Kubernetes gives you the opportunity to manage different versions of containers. It is possible to upgrade some of the running pods to a new version and see the result before upgrading all pods that sell your product. Rolling out releases across all your servers can be done with just one command. Kubernetes will then replace the old containers with new ones across all your servers without experiencing any downtime.
Spreading containers to increase uptime
Kubernetes also helps you balance your digital workloads. It is possible to automatically spread containers across your entire cluster for higher uptime. In addition, you can specifically assign pods to a few nodes that have the appropriate hardware. Connecting multiple servers together for applications that require high availability is also perfectly possible.
Kubernetes has functionalities that allow you to automatically check whether all of your containers are still working properly. This automated control mechanism saves you a lot of manual work and makes it possible to intervene quickly if containers should fail.
When to use Kubernetes?
What are the typical situations that call for the utilisation of Kubernetes? What are the cases in which the platform is particularly valuable? Peak loads (seasonal or not) are typical real-world examples of moments in which Kubernetes comes in incredibly handy. In times like these, certain applications are called upon very often. Kubernetes can deal with capacity shortages at the pod or application level and deploy additional resources if an application threatens to reach the limits of its capacity. In addition, Kubernetes is also extremely suitable for managing very complex IT landscapes that contain a lot of data, applications and connections.
The 6 benefits of Kubernetes
If you choose the right setup, Kubernetes delivers many technical and practical benefits. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Kubernetes allows you to run multiple versions of an application at the same time. The big advantage of this? Because software goes through different test and acceptance environments in an automated way, you can roll out applications a lot faster. Development cycles are thus considerably shorter.
Kubernetes makes serious work of standardization. Whatever applications you run, with Kubernetes, the setup and structure are largely the same. Kubernetes is perfectly suitable for a wide range of application types. Think of stateful and stateless applications, microservices, replicated applications, and applications on colocation.
More control, lower costs
Kubernetes also offers serious benefits from a control and cost management perspective. Your development teams are always in control of all containers and dependencies within your cloud environment. Faster and easier development becomes the norm, a gain that also has a favorable effect on your overall development costs.
A diverse ecosystem of tools and services
By using Kubernetes, you benefit from a wide range of features and support services. There are already many special tools available for Kubernetes and the wider container ecosystem, but due to the open-source nature of Kubernetes, there is also plenty of room for customisation.
A secure environment for management and development
Kubernetes uses role-based access control, network encryption and security certificates, allowing you to easily assign users the correct roles and access rights. This ensures that the platform can be securely linked to any cloud environment or existing AD or LDAP.
Technology is constantly making huge leaps forward, whilst new innovations are made on an almost weekly basis. Therefore, future-proofing your IT environment is extremely important. Is the number of users or the amount of traffic bound to grow in the future? With Kubernetes, you can quickly adapt applications to changing realities and swiftly develop new solutions for new needs.
The drawbacks of Kubernetes
But does Kubernetes have no drawbacks at all? Is it a magic tool that immediately removes all challenges associated with application and cloud management? Unfortunately not. For example, it is not always an easy task to completely align the platform with the exact needs and wishes of your organization.
This is precisely because Kubernetes offers such a wide range of possibilities that connecting and organizing components, such as storage, infrastructure and load balancing, is often a complex job that requires quite a bit of technical expertise. Moreover, for relatively simple applications, the use of Kubernetes is often overkill. The time and effort that it takes to properly set up the platform outweigh the benefits that using Kubernetes provides.
Would you like to take advantage of the benefits of Kubernetes, but do you lack the time and/or technical knowledge to set up and manage everything yourself? In that case, managed Kubernetes is often a good solution. A specialized partner takes the most complex tasks off your hands, allowing you to fully focus on producing new features and applications.
Kubernetes and SUE
Do you also want to take advantage of the benefits of Kubernetes and get the best out of container technology? Are you looking for a helping hand in terms of management and design? Then you have come to the right place at SUE. Our experts containerise on-premise applications and seamlessly migrate workloads to the cloud. The SUE Cloud Native Adoption Platform (SCNAP) gives you access to a ready-to-use, fully working Kubernetes environment within half an hour. This environment is suitable for any cloud provider and cloud solution. In addition, the platform integrates seamlessly with other popular open-source tools, such as Gitlab and Elastic. Finally, our specialists are constantly busy improving the platform.
Would you like to find out more about Kubernetes, containerisation, SCNAP or our other cloud-native services? Please feel free to give us a ring at +31 345 656 666 or send an email to email@example.com. You can also fill out the contact form on our website.