Kubernetes or K8s has become the de-facto standard for container orchestration. It provides users with a robust and unparalleled feature set to manage the complete container lifecycle. However, it also introduces additional complexity to overall application architecture since all the infrastructure, deployment, and management strategies should be aligned to provision Kubernetes.
Due to that, Kubernetes might not be an ideal solution for some use cases. In this post, let’s discuss when exactly to use Kubernetes.
The primary reason for using Kubernetes is to orchestrate containers in a containerized application. Containerization allows users to package applications into a single immutable and isolated container with all the dependencies that can be deployed virtually anywhere. Managing a single or a handful of containers won’t be that much of a hassle. Furthermore, depending on the functionality or use case, users can even deploy containers as functions to leverage FaaS services such as Azure Functions (Function App Container).
However, the number of containers can balloon up to hundreds and even thousands of containers in most production environments. This will lead to a management overhead that would be hard-pressed to handle by even a large team. Yet, Kubernetes manage most management tasks of containers automatically. Therefore, organizations can effectively handle deployments and updates of containers as well as scaling, availability, storage, security, and networking within the Kubernetes Cluster by using Kubernetes to manage all these containers.
Kubernetes is most effective when managing containers at scale. Setup the K8 cluster and plug it into a DevOps pipeline, and users will get a streamlined delivery pipeline to support the complete application lifecycle.
Microservices have enabled building software applications as collections of modular components or services. This isolated service-based approach has led to greater flexibility and fault tolerance in the overall application than monolithic architectures.
The most likely solution to create these services is to depend on containers. Thus, you will also need a proper way to manage all these services (containers). Kubernetes becomes the ideal solution for this scenario as it comes with proper tools to manage both the containers and the network communication between containers, external services, and the wider internet. For this reason, Kubernetes has become the perfect management platform for microservices-based applications.
Nowadays, organizations move most of their workloads from on-premise data centers to cloud platforms with greater scalability and availability. It has revolutionized the way applications are deployed and served to end-users while reducing management overhead and costs.
However, one downside of multi-cloud deployments is the limited interoperability between cloud platforms. For example, an application designed to be deployed on AWS Elastic Beanstalk will require modifications before deploying it on Azure App Service. This will add additional development time as well as the need to maintain and support multiple software configurations
Kubernetes comes to the rescue here as it is designed to run on any platform. It provides a solution for this issue by enabling users to create Kubernetes clusters in any cloud environment. This is not limited to the public cloud, and users can also create Kubernetes clusters on private or hybrid cloud environments. Since the deployment environment is Kubernetes, users can create and maintain a single version of an application that can be deployed with any provider. Thereby, this approach helps users to avoid vendor-lock-in while leveraging features of all the cloud providers.
In a traditional deployment, all the underlying infrastructure such as servers, routing, and load balancers need to be created and maintained manually regardless of the deployment location (on-premise or cloud). Cloud services like AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Azure App Service, Google App Engine, and IaC tools such as Terraform and Ansible have helped to reduce this infrastructure management overhead significantly. Even so, there is some infrastructure that still needs to be managed or coded manually.
We can utilize Kubernetes to simplify these infrastructure requirements even further, thus only managing the infrastructure powering the Kubernetes cluster, ingress and egress gateways from the cluster to the wider internet. All internal networking, load balancing, etc., will be managed within the cluster by Kubernetes.
Moving this a step further, we can use fully-managed Kubernetes services like Amazon EKS, Azure Kubernetes Service, Google Kubernetes Engine, etc., to completely eliminate infrastructure management requirements for the Kubernetes cluster. It is possible to fully configure all the internal communications and resources by leveraging Kubernetes features since we are using Kubernetes even without access to the underlying hardware. All these benefits are offered with the availability and scalability provided by the cloud provider.
With the rapidly evolving customer demand, development teams are under constant pressure to develop applications in a timely manner. When this is combined with deployment requirements to deliver applications at scale, it can lead to complex and time-consuming DevOps pipelines.
Kubernetes can help in the deployment aspect by allowing users to deploy applications faster with simple workflows. Some Kubernetes features such as auto-scaling, automated rollouts and rollbacks, self-healing, and replication controls will aid users to deploy applications with high availability and scalability.
When these Kubernetes-based deployments are coupled with container-focused developments, it will lead to streamlined, faster DevOps pipelines organically. Kubernetes not only helps in development and deployment aspects but also in testing. It will reduce the management overhead to facilitate different development strategies such as canary deployments and Blue-green testing. These testing methods allow testing in a near-identical environment to the production and then seamlessly transition to the actual production environment.
Migrating to Kubernetes and container-based developments allow organizations to streamline and simplify DevOps with faster time to market. All this time savings with reduced workload will allow delivery team members to focus more on the product, resulting in significant product quality improvements.
In this post, we had a look at some scenarios that are ideal for Kubernetes. With the versatility and features offered by Kubernetes, it can be used for simple container orchestration to power multi-cloud deployments and even help streamline the complete SDLC. All this comes with the complexity associated with configuring and maintaining the Kubernetes.
First published here