Kubernetes- Is It Really Necessary for You?

Container orchestration has become a requisite component of the modern application development infrastructure. Orchestration complements containerization and microservices by automating deployment, management, and scaling of containers. The most significant benefit of this technology is creating a consistent and reliable IT environment with significantly reduced human error costs.

As it stands, Kubernetes- a.k.a K8s- is what most IT professionals think of when the topic of container orchestration is brought up. However, despite Kubernetes being synonymous with cloud-native container orchestration.

It’s good to note that this is just one of the many Container Orchestration Engines (COEs) that IT teams can use to design the right business software.

In this article, we’ll look at what makes the ‘Kubernetes-dev’ channel so popular, when you can use it, and its possible alternatives.


Kubernetes- Solution to Docker Challenges

Docker’s birth in 2010 couldn’t come at a better time. This revolutionary Linux container technology has simplified the way developers interact with the software by availing a lightweight container runtime, making it simple to package, distribute, and deploy applications.

While it brought some handy changes in the cloud computing scenario, this new cloud-native approach had several bottlenecks. The biggest of these challenges was that Docker focused on a single machine. This meant that Docker alone wouldn’t allow developers to deploy and manage thousands of containers on multiple devices worldwide. It’s for this reason that Kubernetes was developed.

As an open-source container orchestrator, the main idea behind Kubernetes was to reduce the complexity of building new applications by taking care of issues like failovers and scaling.

Once you understand the main Kubernetes security challenges and the solutions for each, you enjoy tons of marvelous features, including built-in auto-scaling, volume management, load balancing, and secrets management. Kubernetes also comes with a web user interface from which the IT team can manage and troubleshoot the cluster.


Here is an overview of the benefits that Kubernetes brings to software development:

i) Orchestrates your storage system- one of the biggest challenges facing Docker volumes is that they are bound to the host machine. Kubernetes solves this issue by allowing you to choose your desired storage system, including local storage and public cloud providers. 

ii) Automates rollouts and rollbacks- Kubernetes can rollout and rollback changes to revise your deployments from the current state to your desired state.  

iii) Self-heals- once you’ve described your desired configuration, Kubernetes can self-detect pod status and container status. In case a component of the containerized app goes down, Kubernetes uses its auto-healing abilities to restart it.

iv) Manages your secrets- secret management is another default feature of Kubernetes. It stores secrets in Base64 encoding but allows you more control over the passwords, keys, OAuth tokens, among other sensitive information.

The power of Kubernetes to tackle some of the biggest challenges in the industry has been clearly demonstrated in multiple use cases published by big-name companies. These include Google (its founder), Pokemon Go, Capital One, and Spotify, among many others.


The Catch

Often, most developers fall for the hype and embrace Kubernetes prematurely without investigating whether they actually need it and its possible challenges. These are the people (and organizations in general) who think that their application development environment isn’t up to date if Kubernetes does not feature anywhere within the infrastructure.

Kubernetes has been a success story for Google and Niantic. By embracing this open-source project, Niantic was able to avail Pokemon Go to millions of its players on a global scale. But it’s good to point out that not all enterprises are similar to Google and Pokemon Go when it comes to the level of scale required.

While it boasts some pretty impressive features, Kubernetes is notorious for its steep learning curve. This complexity stems from the fact that K8s was primarily designed to help Google manage its containers using legacy services.

Kubernetes’ convolution is often coupled with the need to invest a considerable amount of time on setting up and configuring all the components. Although most of the hard part will be taken care of by the service provider, developers will still be involved in the setup process in one way or the other.

Important to note, Kubernetes also calls for reasonably advanced skills. This makes it vital to have your IT team trained on dealing with the new environment they will be working in.


Kubernetes is Very Necessary

Don’t get it twisted! Far be it from us to presume that Kubernetes has no benefits to other enterprises and companies besides those that we’ve mentioned above. What we intend to highlight is that Kubernetes is just one among many other options out there.

Generally, we think that the complexity of this container orchestration engine will be worth it if:

  • You’re already using or are planning to switch to microservice architecture and Docker containerization.

  • Your application development team is getting overwhelmed by customer demand due to the long development and deployment times.

  • You’re looking for a way to lower your application development infrastructure costs. One of the strengths of Kubernetes is its good resource management both at the container pod and cluster level.


On the other hand, we feel Kubernetes may be overkill if;

  • Your applications don’t require scaling- the ability to scale pods automatically makes Kubernetes an invaluable component when dealing with applications that often suffer from sudden bursts- for instance, a spike in log in requests in a gaming application. For applications that don’t rely on multiple services, optimization is likely to solve most of the issues caused by a spike in user traffic.

  • You have limited resources- although Kubernetes is relatively efficient in the long run, you’ll need to invest a great deal of money and time in training your team and keeping it up to date with the ever-changing ecosystem.

Kubernetes is architected to orchestrate containers on a large scale. While the flexibility that comes with it helps organizations with big apps, there is a chance that most businesses may not even require this level of complexity.

That being said, if you’re just getting started with orchestration and want a COE that’s straightforward to use, consider Docker Swarm. Because Swarm is already integrated with Docker API, your team won’t have to relearn new concepts. However, if you’re looking for industry-grade scaling for your apps, by all means, consider Kubernetes.




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