Who Is Kubernetes For?
K8s is a big part of cloud computing and will continue to be important as businesses shift their architecture in a cloud-native direction. The data-driven era means apps are increasingly important for allowing companies to adjust to consumer demands and engage their audience. Kubernetes provides container orchestration and an easy way to establish the processes needed to create and manage the app.
But this can get messy. Thousands of containers can be created and not properly deleted or managed without the right approach. It could take an entire team to keep up with a large demand. In order to run the platform correctly, the user has to understand how to integrate parts, establish scaling on demand, ensure commands are in sync and enable communication across clusters.
Containers are just a part of the puzzle and Kubernetes is a part of the key. The tools enabled through Kubernetes still require a knowledgeable developer to utilize them for scheduling and orchestrating the containers.
Kubernetes is the largest of the open-source projects housed within CNCF. It is used by small and large companies alike, including very popular companies like:
So, Kubernetes certainly isn’t just for small-time or low-budget groups. In fact, you will find that Kubernetes is actually a place where the big dogs go and the landscape can be difficult to navigate.
When it comes to individual professionals, companies or teams and Kubernetes, you will find the split comes down to the drive to learn Kubernetes or not. Some creators and developers need to learn it because of their application demands and scaling requirements. Some creators and developers just get excited about being on the cutting edge of new technology and updated processes.
So, who does well with Kubernetes?
Developers Familiar with the Languages
Even though there is a wealth of information out there about Kubernetes, there is a major learning curve. It isn’t exactly user-friendly, since it is created for developers by developers. You will need to have a firm grasp of coding and languages to work within the framework of Kubernetes.
Officially, Kubernetes libraries support:
Kubernetes-supported language libraries stay up-to-date. However, there are more options available through other users. These are combined with community-managed libraries for additional languages:
Ultimately, Kubernetes is written in Go, but it allows you to choose the languages you want to use for various tools and components. Google said they chose Go because it wasn’t “too high level nor too low level.” Rather than use Python, Java or C/C++, Go enabled fast tools, simplicity, anonymous functions, built-in concurrency and more. Go has been able to scale with the growth of Kubernetes.
So, it’s pretty important to know the Go programming language if you want to use Kubernetes. The platform will largely be written in Go and it will be important to at least understand it, even if you prefer other languages.
Developers Struggling to Meet Demands
For developers that can’t keep up with development demands or deployment times, Kubernetes can be a helpful tool to speed processes. Kubernetes can take the place of a developer team and manage the app processes while you create new versions or instructions. Even for enterprise companies, this can free up the team to focus on features over manual tasks and busywork.
Kubernetes won’t necessarily save you time at first. You will have to approach the learning curve with an enthusiasm and determination to understand the project and what it can offer. Without a good grasp of the components, controllers and commands, you will run into many snares. Once you’ve properly deployed your application, then you will start to notice more freedom.
Some developers simply can’t keep up with the demands or deployment times any other way. They still devote a lot of time to learning Kubernetes and keeping up with k8s changes, but they need the automated processes and scaling for their app to function well for the end-user. Without hiring an entire team dedicated to developing the app (and sometimes even despite doing just this), companies need a way to automate basic functions and actions to improve runtime without demanding so much of the developers. Kubernetes can offer a real lifesaver in this regard.
App Designers that Already Use Microservices
This can be more efficient for those who are already using microservices and software, like Docker, to establish containers and organize the app base. It can support the transition to that microservice architecture. And within the microservice approach, you can gain stability, flexibility and speed. It enables easier updating and can take an in-depth transition if you are operating with traditional (monolithic) app architecture.
Developer Teams Interested in the Cutting Edge
Kubernetes is continually changing with updates and is based on the opinions of the contributors. There is a “k8s-way” to do things that is based on the project perspective. But this constant change and collaboration leads to a platform that is cutting edge. It can be exciting for some creators and offers the most modern solutions for container architecture and management in applications.
At the same time, the underlying premise of Kubernetes is to be fully customizable. So, you can alter the base perspective (k8s-way) to become whatever you want by removing and replacing the various components that come standard on the platform. Some developers love the freedom they have to shift the project into their own likeness and create exactly what they need for their application.
This can make Kubernetes slightly intimidating at first, but offers a lot of control and customization that most developers and creators value in the platform. And there are developers that live for learning these new things and being part of the new experience. Kubernetes is a great fit for those that enjoy the learning process. In most cases, these developers might even get in on the contributing action and be a part of the process from the ground floor.
Kubernetes for Small Business Apps
You might think that just because your company isn’t very large, that Kubernetes is unnecessary. You don’t want to over-complicate anything and you keep reading things that tell you too many people are using Kubernetes for simple projects and it’s overkill. In some ways that may hold true, but not as often as you might think.
Kubernetes handles the container shifting and resource load balancing. If you have a 2-3 developer team, a handful of virtual machines and a reverse proxy, then you might be able to manually update the system as a startup.
But, Kubernetes isn’t just a pod and cluster scheduler, it is an infrastructure framework that will inform and organize your application. And, when you have multiple developers (even if you assign a gatekeeper), you tend to have a higher potential for conflicting changes. And whenever a developer leaves, you are stuck remembering the secrets within the managed database secrets that the developer has included within their work. When new developers come on, you will have to catch them up to speed on your setup because it’s likely unique to your company—it’s not something you can request proficiency in on a resume.
But, you’re a small company and you are only working small scale. So you have the time and agility to deal with those issues, so you’re thinking Kubernetes still seems like a mountain when you only need a molehill. But framework and infrastructure is key here. With containers, replicated workloads and EnpointSlices, you automate an infrastructure that adapts to resources on the fly.
Kubernetes doesn’t require a VM (virtual machine) setup because it is workload agnostic. You can focus on the cluster and deploy whenever you want. Yet, despite multiple changes and customizations on Kubernetes, you will have a detailed manifest that tracks the version changes.
- Your developers can update their app version without ever having access to secrets
- You can migrate to different cloud providers easily (or even bare metal)
- Onboarding is easier, since you can request a developer have experience with Kubernetes (or learn it)
- Your security layer (TLS) is easy to find
If your app is backendless or you want to go without servers, then you may not want to go with Kubernetes. But as you can see, there are a lot more benefits for small businesses beyond scaling alone.
Things are changing and more companies are moving their resources and presence online. Applications are no longer for large companies or tech companies alone. These apps might cover an online store, customer VIP accounts, resource tools for customers and more. Small companies are using apps as portable tools that will help attract and retain customers.
Kubernetes for Large Business Apps
It might be a little easier to see why enterprises and larger businesses are attracted to what Kubernetes offers. The free, open-source project offers the cutting edge that larger businesses often crave for their projects. Developers can work within an established framework to produce something that scales easily, no matter how large the application grows in nature or with end-users.
Larger companies may think they have the resources needed to build their own infrastructure and adapt resources manually. With a larger tech team, you probably do have more manpower that could be devoted to writing and manipulating your application architecture. But, with so many projects and tools already established, Kubernetes has already invented the wheel—over and over again. There is little point to creating things that are already in existence and have a lot of support backing them.
Establishing a reliable application is one big reason to use Kubernetes. As you shift from one computing environment to another, you need seamless and reliable performance. Production will typically take place within your on-premise server, but what will happen when you shift to the VM in the cloud? Different environments provide network and security changes that will affect your application.
By using containers, you can combat that issue by bundling and organizing the app. Essentially, using Kubernetes, you can forget about the infrastructure because you aren’t handling those adjustments. The modular nature of container builds provide a portable, multi-cloud solution that is efficient and allows for rapid deployment.
As your app changes, you can update without interrupting activity or starting over each time. With a large company, your app is almost guaranteed to shift and grow in scale. So the scalability features that Kubernetes enables are a key point for a large company.
There are specific tools for Kubernetes management that are designed to support the enterprise. Some of the more popular solutions include Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Rancher, Kublr and Tectonic. This can help you streamline and manage Kubernetes to include self-healing and auto-scaling your need for your application. But we can cover more about that in the Kubernetes Management Platform section of this guide.
Reasons Kubernetes Wouldn’t be the Right Fit
Kubernetes isn’t really a one-size-fits all tool. It has a lot of expansion capabilities and can be highly flexible, but there are times it won’t be the right fit. Kubernetes shouldn’t be used for certain tasks because it would be overkill and not offer many benefits. In some cases, Kubernetes can be more effort than it’s worth. Examples of situations that wouldn’t work well for Kubernetes Include:
- Web-based apps that have little-to-no backend
- Lightweight apps that are simple and able to be run with a more primitive infrastructure
- Monolithic architecture changeover without a driving need for microservices
- Apps that would be overcomplicated with container architecture
- A lack of developer or team interested in learning the steep learning curve of Kubernetes
- The lack of time or interest to continually learn the changing open-source nature of Kubernetes
- A lack of time or manpower to devote to Kubernetes
- First-time developers (start small so you can build your confidence)
- The need or preference for a smaller app management overhead
But, there is a reason Kubernetes is so popular. So, for many app situations, Kubernetes is eventually the right fit. Starting with a basic containerized structure can make it easier to transition to Kubernetes when (or if) the time arises. It is easier to transition from simple containers to Kubernetes than from a monolithic architecture with interwoven processes.
There are just a lot of details to iron out before it will work as intended. It can be difficult to know what’s going wrong when things are stalling or refusing to automate specific commands. When there is conflicting communication or poorly built application structures, deployment can become an issue. Some companies turn to supporting Kubernetes experts that can help establish the application and manage the infrastructure.
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