Benjamin Dwumah

Benjamin Dwumah

Software Engineer - Big Data, AI & Cloud

Kubernetes Is The Answer, But What Is The Question?

Posted on May 18, 2023

Before anyone declares, “Kubernetes is difficult”, let us take a step back to understand why Kubernetes has been adopted so widely in the first place. As we trace the origins and motivations behind its creation, we will start to realize that Kubernetes is more than just a complex system; it is a solution designed to tackle some of the most pressing challenges faced by businesses that rely on software in this era of digital transformation.

What Is the Problem?

To appreciate Kubernetes, we must first understand the problem it was designed to solve. The rise of the internet and digital services has led to an exponential increase in the scale and complexity of software infrastructure. Traditionally, applications were deployed on physical servers. However, managing and scaling these applications on individual servers was difficult and inefficient, especially when dealing with large-scale applications.

Enter virtualization - this was a step forward, allowing us to create multiple ‘virtual’ machines on a single physical server. However, even virtualization had its challenges, and this leads us to containers.

Containers: A New Paradigm

Containers brought about a paradigm shift in how we think about deploying and running applications. Unlike traditional virtualization, where each virtual machine ran a full-blown OS, containers package up an application and its dependencies into a standardized unit for software development. They are lightweight, as they share the host system’s OS, and can run anywhere that supports containerization technology, such as Docker.

The adoption of containerization led to a proliferation of containers, and with that came a new set of challenges - orchestration. This is where Kubernetes comes into the picture.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes (also known as K8s) is an open-source platform for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It groups containers that make up an application into logical units for easy management and discovery.

Scaling Made Easy

In an era where companies need to be agile and responsive to their customers’ needs, the ability to scale applications rapidly is crucial. Kubernetes enables you to do this automatically based on CPU usage or other application-specific metrics. It also enables manual scaling if needed, ensuring that businesses can accommodate traffic demands efficiently and cost-effectively.

Deployments and Updates Without Downtime

Kubernetes makes it easier for businesses to roll out new features and updates to their applications without downtime. By managing deployment of new versions, Kubernetes allows for version testing, gradual rollouts, and easy rollback if problems are detected, all contributing to a better end-user experience.

Self-Healing Capabilities

Kubernetes is built to cope with failures, thereby increasing the resilience of the system. It can restart failed containers, replace containers, kill containers that don’t respond to user-defined health checks, and only advertise containers to clients when they are ready to serve.

Is Kubernetes Really Difficult?

There is a perception that Kubernetes is difficult to learn and manage, but this comes from the fact that it is a powerful and complex system designed to solve challenging problems. It provides a high degree of flexibility and customization to cater to various use cases and needs, which inevitably comes with a learning curve.

However, there are various resources, from documentation to community support, to help users navigate the Kubernetes landscape. Also, managed Kubernetes services offered by cloud providers like Google Cloud GKE, Amazon EKS, and Microsoft AKS reduce the operational overhead and make it easier for businesses to adopt Kubernetes.

Before we label Kubernetes as difficult, it is important to remember why it exists in the first place. Kubernetes is the answer to the question - how do we efficiently orchestrate, scale, and manage containerized applications in a world where software is eating the world? Despite its learning curve, Kubernetes offers a comprehensive and flexible solution to these!