What is Kubernetes?
Kubernetes is derived from a Greek word that means a pilot or helmsman. Kubernetes originally started as an open-source project within Google for the management of applications.
According to Kubernetes.io, Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation. In other words, Kubernetes helps with the management of containers and applications. It abstracts and automates actions related to the hardware, middleware, and OS so that you can focus more on the development of your application.
Now that we understand what Kubernetes is, let’s jump into learning more about five key things on Kubernetes.
Kubernetes is still not very widely adopted yet
Gartner states that: “By 2022, more than 75% of global organizations will be running containerized applications in production, which is a significant increase from less than 30% today.”
Not a lot of the global organizations have widely adopted containers and Kubernetes for their production workloads. Teams are dipping their toes into one or two applications being developed and deployed on containers using Kubernetes to test the waters. This situation is further amplified as companies do not find people with the right skill sets for containers and Kubernetes. This is slowing the pace at which Kubernetes is adopted for application development and management.
While DIY is a good way to keep things under your own control, companies have options available in terms of managed Kubernetes from the cloud providers (EKS, GKE, etc). This should take away the burden of standing up an environment from scratch and maintaining it. It also provides an opportunity to run dev-test applications on Kubernetes and see if this is the right technology at this given time.
Kubernetes empowers developers
This should not be a surprise. Kubernetes helps developers to focus on coding and adding value to the business rapidly. Pre-containers developers would have to think about how much infrastructure is available, which language should be used and whether IT operations will support initiatives in a timely manner. It used to take them days or weeks to solve the infrastructure puzzle.
However, with containers and Kubernetes developers can write code and then just deploy it. The rest is taken care of by Kubernetes in a true hybrid cloud world. Infrastructure provisioning, scaling, spinning down application and resources, all of this is taken out of the complicated equation. That is the power of Kubernetes. No longer are developers throwing applications over to the other side to IT Ops to deploy and manage.
Kubernetes supports microservices-based applications
Gartner describes microservices as a tightly-scoped, strongly-encapsulated, loosely-coupled, independently-deployable and independently-scalable application component. On a very high-level, microservices break a monolith application into smaller services. For example, it’s similar to breaking your hotel booking application into microservices such as scheduling, dining, payment and logistics services.
Breaking a monolith into microservices helps you manage, update and change these services in a more predictable fashion. By chance, if one of the microservices fails that does not bring the whole application down.
Managing microservices-based applications gets easier using containers because of the technical construct. Using Kubernetes to manage the container environment, in turn, simplifies the application management even further. This effectively increases productivity and helps companies build more advanced applications faster.
Kubernetes thrives on decentralized IT
IT is an enabler and wants to contribute towards making the business successful. However, in the past, IT services were consumed in a fragmented and manual fashion. Developers and IT Operations have struggled to keep communication strong and this siloed environment has delayed the application development.
However, the decentralization of IT has been more widely adopted across organizations as it speeds up the consumption of IT services. Now developers can consume IT through cloud providers or on-premises using catalogs. This improves agility while maintaining the needed control through guardrails established by IT.
It has been seen that Kubernetes thrives in a decentralized IT environment. This is because applications can now be deployed quickly on resources that are cost-effective. Plus, IT can monitor resources using Kubernetes monitoring tools. Kubernetes and containers further ensure that if any application goes down it can be brought back up quickly. Thus, the decentralization of IT has brought forward self-service and faster development.
Kubernetes environment can be made more secure
As they say, you are only as secure as your weakest technology point. With Kubernetes the benefit is that it reduces the surface area of exposure for any breach or attack. However, you can ensure that you keep your Kubernetes environment more secure. You can do this enabling role-based access control (RBAC). RBAC makes sure that a wrong person does not have access to things they should.
However, make sure that the right people and technology have access to the right layer. Do not give cluster-wide access to everyone if you want to protect your applications.
Make sure you do not expose your critical and sensitive workloads to other non-sensitive workloads. It might be even better to dedicate resources so that you do not have any intruders. Reduce the exposure area to avoid any breaches.
Don’t save your security or login credentials in an open S3 bucket or in a notepad. This is common sense but worth explicitly stating since we have recently seen breaches related to exposed S3 buckets. Another common practice is to keep doors locked all the time–both physically and for your IT environments. Also, set alerting mechanisms (like policies) to monitor/ identify/ log as soon as a breach occurs. Harden your security postures for resources such as nodes, close all important ports, etc. Remember, security is as important as building new applications. One lapse and your company’s name might flash in an online magazine.