I read a very interesting tweet yesterday on Kubernetes’ Twitter channel.

“We didn’t change our organization because we wanted to use #Kubernetes, we used Kubernetes because we wanted to change our organization.”

The tweet showcases the tremendous value proposition that Kubernetes, the open source container orchestration system, can bring to an enterprise in terms of business efficiency.

In the global IT landscape, the spotlight is on containers now. It’s hard to imagine that just a short time ago, enterprises were unsure about the benefits of containerization, which  made them hesitant to include this approach in their cloud operations. However, as their digital initiatives progressed, enterprises started focusing more on building services and products that would rapidly solve business problems, rather than engaging in multi-year project plans: design/architecture in the first year, rollout the next year and then expected stability and returns for the year after that.

The emergence of Kubernetes has cleared many of the doubts about overcoming the operational and technological challenges of managing containers. As enterprises pursue a multi-cloud strategy to combat the dreaded “cloud lock-in,” Kubernetes offers a flexible solution to deploy applications in an environment of their choice. As a result, we see an unprecedented surge in interest from customers who want to explore a Kubernetes solution.

The Value Proposition

Kubernetes provides a level of abstraction that enables developer productivity, resource efficiency, automated operations and open source flexibility, which accelerates time to market. Besides being one of the most active projects on Microsoft’s recently acquired GitHub, Kubernetes has arguably seen the fastest adoption of many previous technology releases since its unveiling to the outside world, approximately four years ago.

Kubernetes has not only managed to address concerns such as high availability, disaster recovery and scalability, but in several cases, it has also helped enterprises overcome IT organizational issues of scaling teams and allowing them to choose the tools, processes, frameworks and languages of their choice. It provides the ability to scale up during peak demand and scale down during quieter periods, so customers can  pay just for the actual usage.

For instance, one of our fast-food restaurant clients anticipated losses due to lengthy development cycles and inability to add new features to its mainline applications. Our Google Kubernetes Engine-based scalable and agile containerized environment for application development automated all of the company’s Google Cloud Platform and Kubernetes management activities with added security. This enabled the company to add more application features and make updates up to 30 times a day rather than every two weeks.

Platform Options

With so many options available, it could be tricky for enterprises to finalize their choice of the right product for their container environment. It’s interesting to see that the major cloud providers have replaced the “C” (for container) in their product names with a “K” (for Kubernetes): GKE (Google Kubernetes Engine), AKS (Azure Kubernetes Service, EKS (Amazon’s Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes), PKS (Pivotal Container Service).

In addition to the dedicated managed services provided by the top-three cloud providers, there are also several software distributions that can be run locally or as a cloud-hosted option, such as CoreOS Tectonic, Docker EE, Heptio Kubernetes, Red Hat Openshift and Mesosphere DC/OS. Typically, these products have some enhanced core components and added dependencies. Container management platforms such as Rancher have gained popularity with their workload management and unified cluster management capabilities. 

Best Practices for Adoption

Kubernetes changes very quickly, and the open source community ensures all important security threats are addressed in the next upstream release. When adopting Kubernetes for your containers, it’s very important to include extensibility and modularity in your architecture to stay current with ongoing Kubernetes releases without any impact on your business.

Some of the major benefits of hosting an application on robust platforms such as GKE, AKS and EKS are speed and efficiency. Solutions such as Google Kubernetes Engine allow users to deploy an application in less than five minutes. Users also don’t have to worry about patching the master and worker software against security vulnerabilities, nor do they need to worry about long downtimes. Most of these services come with robust SLAs; GKE has had more than 100 releases since its general availability in August 2015, maintaining an SLA of about 99.5%.

A great reference point for the extraordinary scale achievable with these types of platforms is the release of “Pokémon Go” and the mania that ensued. It is one of the most exciting examples of container-based development, in which the efficient orchestration capabilities of GKE supported the game platform when the user base skyrocketed to millions, in a short span after the launch.

Kubernetes, one of the highest velocity open-source projects, is evolving at an accelerated pace. Early adopters that move their critical workloads to this platform will certainly reap the benefits.

For more information, please visit us at Booth #W2501 on July 24-26, 2018, at Google Cloud Next 2018 in San Francisco.

Raja Renganathan

Raja Renganathan

Raja Renganathan is a Vice-President at Cognizant and heads the company’s Cloud Services Business based out of North America. A strategic leader,... Read more