What is Kubernetes?


Applications have become increasingly more complex and often grow to cover multiple containers, running over multiple servers. This can be difficult to manage. In order to combat that, Kubernetes was created to provide an open-source API (application programming interface) controlling how and where the containers will run on a cluster of virtual machines. Containers for the applications are grouped into pods that are scaled by Kubernetes to the necessary state.

Kubernetes adjusts automatically without the end-user even noticing the scale adjustment. The automatic shift is due to service discovery that balances the loads, manages resource allocation and adjusts for compute utilization. It can replicate or restart containers automatically to support the stability of individual resources.

It provides a two-fold purpose—it can both house the app as a native and it can provide the API server.

The History of Kubernetes

This open-source software named Kubernetes is pronounced “koo-ber-net-ees.” The name is Greek and means “helmsman” or “pilot.” Sometimes Kubernetes is called “k8s” or “k-eights” with the eight standing for the letters between the “K” and “s” in the name.

Google created the open-source project in 2014, stemming off an earlier project and written in the Go programming language. Since its official release in 2015, Kubernetes has been the gold standard for creating and managing apps in the cloud. The support, tools and services are numerous and readily available. Both small and enterprise companies alike are using Kubernetes all over the globe!

As an open-source project, it gets the best ideas and practices directly from the community that uses it. Those contributors, combined with 15 years of Google knowledge on handling production workloads, are what make Kubernetes something so diverse and adaptable.

It is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and many contributors. Adjustments are being made to the project as things change within the tech world. And, that change is happening at a very fast pace that requires you to keep up if you want to play along.

What Can You Do with Kubernetes?

The question might be more “what can’t you do with Kubernetes?” The beauty of this project lies in all the tools, components and controllers that have been created to play along with the basic infrastructure of Kubernetes. It is highly flexible, adaptable and mobile. Kubernetes allows you to swap out components to fully customize the underlying architecture of your app.

If you are optimizing your app for the cloud, Kubernetes will provide the platform that allows you to schedule and run clusters of physical or virtual machines. These containers create an infrastructure that supports production in an automated way. This allows you to manage your containers in the same way most app platforms let you do on a smaller scale.

Kubernetes isn’t the only resource for building container-based apps on. It is one of the most well-known projects and brands will almost always get to a point where they wonder if their app should be on Kubernetes because of just how popular it is.

The infrastructure tool is not one for the faint of heart. Most of the people using Kubernetes are app developers, coding gurus, administrators, tech support and those skilled with high tech. App developers can use Kubernetes patterns as a tool to build cloud-native apps utilizing k8s as a runtime platform.

  • Create enterprise apps that scale to size
  • Add storage and increase resources on the fly while running containers across multiple hosts
  • Established deployed apps that run consistently
  • Adjust scaling without interrupting end-users
  • Self-healing and self-analyzing apps for automated restarts, placement and replication capabilities

With other open-source projects, you can support Kubernetes in a way that utilizes it to an even greater power. Those projects are designed to alter, improve or adjust the Kubernetes default “way” with a different approach. Some of these projects include:

  • Docker Registry to support container runtimes and registry
  • Prometheus for systems monitoring and alerts
  • Jaeger helps with monitoring and troubleshooting
  • OpenvSwitch supports networking and edge routing
  • Kibana and Elastic allow telemetry
  • Knative allows for serverless containers with automated scaling, networking and revisions
  • SELinux, LDAP, OAUTH and RBAC provide support with security
  • Ansible allows for automation and cluster life cycle management

It should be noted here that not all tools play nice. In order to get a workable tool, look for those that are performing on the newest Kubernetes versions and are updated. The above mentioned tools are popular ones that get a lot of attention surrounding their abilities to alter Kubernetes. But, ultimately, you probably want to hire someone to help you organize and determine a plan for what you need to purchase. It can quickly grow to a scale that is beyond what you budgeted, so get someone on board that has a lot of experience with the nature of Kubernetes and the tools that will work well.