When (and when not) you need to use Kubernetes

in Virtualization , Monitoring and Observability


Kubernetes is one such framework that’s making it big in the cloud computing world. As several businesses are rapidly shifting to this container management tool, many are still figuring out if they need to use Kubernetes or not.

    In this data-driven era, cloud-native frameworks have taken the business world by storm.

    Kubernetes is one such framework that’s making it big in the cloud computing world. As several businesses are rapidly shifting to this container management tool, many are still figuring out if they need to use Kubernetes or not. The decision isn’t exactly straightforward, and one needs to carefully sit down and review their business needs to ascertain whether they should use Kubernetes or not.

    Containers are excellent tools to use for package services, deploy them, make them immutable, enable resource utilization, and more.

    However, running these containers in production is not an easy task. Thousands of containers can pop up in production, and deploying and managing them using Kubernetes is a great way to avoid managing an abundance of containers manually. However, doing so in Kubernetes is not easy either.

    Not managing Kubernetes efficiently can be immensely detrimental to the development life cycle of the service. Plus, a poorly-managed development life cycle directly affects a business’s operations as well. After all, incorporating Kubernetes in a company is not just an IT endeavor but also a business transformation decision.

    Everyone needs a little help in making the right decision. Here’s a detailed article on helping developers and companies understand when to use Kubernetes and when not to use Kubernetes.

    When to use Kubernetes

    Kubernetes and containerized applications

    Using tools such as Kubevirt can help you use Kubernetes with VMs. However, using Kubernetes this way does not let you utilize the complete potential of containerization and orchestration that Kubernetes has to offer. You need to be able to integrate modular parts, scale up or down according to demand, enable clusters to communicate with each other, make them tolerant and resilient, and more. Using Kubernetes with VMs won’t help you realize many of these benefits and functionalities.

    Now, Kubernetes is essentially a container orchestrator and thus requires a container runtime. This is why Kubernetes only works with containerized applications such as Docker. Kubernetes can also be run on containerized applications; however, Docker is one of the most commonly used container runtimes for this orchestrator.

    Migrating to Kubernetes in production isn’t easy.

    Developers who have extensively worked with containers before or are knowledgeable about them will definitely find working with Kubernetes easier. Numerous developers work with containers in a local environment such as Docker. Working locally in Docker might cause the developers to think that they can make the same transition to Kubernetes in production as well.

    This is not true.

    If you are looking to make the transition but cannot understand when to use Kubernetes, a Kubernetes Application Platform such as Cloudplex can be an excellent solution. Cloudplex eases the transition to Kubernetes and enables developers to use the platform painlessly and effortlessly. The tool enables developers to realize the complete potential of containerization and orchestration with respect to your microservices.

    The easy-to-use drag and drop tool enables the effective management of Kubernetes clusters via numerous features.

    • Manifest management
    • Volume management
    • Container registries integration
    • Uniform interface for hybrid cloud
    • Legacy application integration
    • Knative integration
    • Network and Traffic management
    • Policy-based auto-scaling, and more

    Using Cloudplex enables developers to not just build and manage the Kubernetes clusters easily but also helps scale them effortlessly.

    Kubernetes is the best fit to adopt multicloud

    Often, a single heterogeneous environment requires more than just one cloud computing service to execute a microservice effectively. Using multiple cloud computing services or cloud storage solutions in a particular heterogeneous environment is called multicloud.

    Multicloud has enabled the development, deployment, and management of numerous microservices. Multicloud also helps businesses reduce dependency on one vendor, lower latency, manage costs at affordable rates, local data protection law adherence, boosting choice flexibility, and more.

    If you are dealing with such multicloud architectures and trying to understand when to use Kubernetes, the answer is “right away”! Hosting workloads in Kubernetes enables you to use the same code on every cloud that’s in your multicloud architecture.

    Moreover, the same level of efficiency and automation as before is maintained on all clouds. Plus, the well-defined metrics help developers track health and availability no matter the cloud that the Kubernetes cluster is hosted on.

    Since Kubernetes doesn’t worry about the cloud it is hosted on, you can configure one workload and reproduce it for all other clouds. Doing so helps developers reduce redundancy and complete tasks faster. This also enables users to simply use the best host for their needs rather than depending on one single server that has been overworked beyond capacity. You can achieve redundancy without Kubernetes as well, however, the process isn’t very straightforward or seamless.

    Kubernetes helps in implementing hybrid clouds

    Some applications can be run on a sole public cloud server, on-premises server, or a completely private cloud service. However, when it comes to large-scale services, businesses often need to go for multiple computing solutions to build and manage a coherent service that runs well in the market. This is where a hybrid cloud comes into play. Numerous businesses use multiple computing services - private cloud, on-premise server, public cloud - in their data center. When a business runs and manages its applications this way, it is referred to as a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

    Now, a hybrid cloud is different from a multicloud infrastructure. When a business deploys more than one computing or storage solution of the same type, it is referred to as a multicloud infrastructure. However, the deployment of multiple computing or storage solutions of different types is called a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

    For example, if a business uses three private cloud environments fulfilled by three different vendors (and no other cloud environments), we would say that the company utilizes a multicloud infrastructure. On the other hand, if a business uses three private cloud environments and two public cloud environments, we would say that they make use of hybrid cloud infrastructure.

    Thus, while multicloud helps reduce dependency, a hybrid cloud helps boost digital business transformation.

    Now, implementing a hybrid cloud is not exactly a cakewalk. Kubernetes can help developers with this challenge and enable them to deploy and manage better hybrid cloud infrastructures.

    Kubernetes enables businesses to port their workloads easily and helps them scale these workloads across varying environments as well. Kubernetes boosts standardization and conformance efforts. Thus, if a developer chooses to develop a containerized application on their PC or laptop, they can effortlessly deploy it to a Kubernetes in production as well. The same goes for when they wish to test it. Such enhanced compatibility enables developers to deploy hybrid cloud infrastructures with immense confidence.

    Kubernetes needs observability measures

    If you are looking for a quick answer to “When not to use Kubernetes”, it could be the hidden costs associated with it. More businesses are adopting a cloud-native infrastructure making use of Kubernetes. In turn, their developers are spending more time trying to configure, manage, and deploy thousands of elements and metrics in the Kubernetes architecture. Container build times and configurations as well as complex networking takes up a lot of the developer’s time. This prevents them from focusing on delivering high-priority services faster.

    This productivity loss results in highly-paid developers spending a lot of time in working on non-core activities. For companies working on a limited budget, paying out the salaries of developers can become a huge loss. Plus, productivity loss doesn’t stop here. Learning the ins and outs of a fast-changing framework again takes up time. The added weight of cloud stacks operating across distributed applications and comprising different vendors makes keeping up with the infrastructure even tougher.

    Among other hidden costs associated with Kubernetes, businesses also lose money in sub-optimal architectures related to Kubernetes. Developers are now spending more time working on YAML files or tweaking Docker files rather than in writing application code that would bring direct business value. However, if developers overlook these best practices, they won’t be able to develop optimized applications that work with agility and efficiency. This leads to a vicious cycle of productivity and capital loss.

    One often does not realize these costs when working with Kubernetes. However, utilizing observability is an excellent solution to cutting down on these hidden costs. Observability is a set of processes that enable developers to understand and manage a system’s internal states. Traditional data is transformed into high-quality and well-structured data in the form of easy-to-understand trace events - metrics and logs. Such a feature helps developers save time in looking for errors and outliers. Whether the issue is a general outage or system degradation, these trace events help developers quickly get to the root cause and get to damage control effectively.

    Observability also seeks to take care of responsibility-control mismatched. In vast tech teams taking care of different system components, information can often get siloed. Moreover, certain teams also tend to control something that they are not responsible for. This can lead to a lot of confusion and fatigue which eventually leads to a poor end-user experience. Observability helps create service maps where the inter-service dependencies are clearly mapped out. Without this, losses in terms of responsibility-control mismatched and alarm fatigue can increase hidden costs associated with Kubernetes meteorically.

    A full end-to-end solution, such as Cloudplex, can help developers use, manage, secure, and scale microservices in Kubernetes very efficiently. Implementing observability comes with its own costs however not utilizing them would in-turn increase costs of Kubernetes management. Cloudplex comes with built-in and managed observability tools that help developers take care of observability in simple steps. Rather than a disjointed dashboard of random alarms, Cloudplex offers a fully-functional observability platform to reduce all hidden costs associated with Kubernetes.

    Kubernetes makes development using containers easier

    When trying to simplify workflows and gain freedom in innovating with choice tools, Docker containers are the best way to go. Developers can use application stacks and environments of their own choice without worrying about complicating or slowing down workflows. As opposed to a VM, Docker containers start up very quickly (depending on your desktop’s kernels) and also take a few seconds to create or destroy. These simple processes in VMs can take a lot of time.

    When using a containerized application, you need not worry about all the tools that you have downloaded to work with an abundance of projects. When you destroy the container, all tools installed along with it will get destroyed as well. Tools that you no longer use would no longer take up space or complicate processes. Developers using Docker containers will get a neat and clean environment to work with. Plus, since Docker shows the latest version of the code to everyone on the team, onboarding new developers onto the project is easier as well.

    Another key benefit of using Docker containers is Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment. This DevOps method enables developers to integrate the container code with a shared repository frequently. Doing this helps everyone stay in the loop with the developments and also makes deployment quicker. Moreover, since Docker containers are lightweight and portable, they can be run anywhere. This in-turn helps pack and run applications faster and more efficiently.

    Clearly, Docker containers are superbly useful. We also know that Kubernetes is the best way to run these Docker containers. The correct Kubernetes platform helps developers build an environment that boosts automation, self-service, and integration. It also enables developers to manage multiple containerized operations across either a multicloud infrastructure or a hybrid cloud infrastructure or both. Plus, scaling between these two infrastructures is made easy as well. Plus, the consistent security capabilities add an extra layer of management to the containerized applications as well.

    Kubernetes to run microservices seamlessly

    Often, evolving large technical stacks in a business is not simple. To make the process more straightforward, companies use an architectural style called microservices. Microservices not only help rapid and frequent delivery of complex applications but also help developers release quicker updates without causing a system failure or outage. Essentially, an entire application is structured like a collection of loosely-coupled and independently-deployable services.

    These microservices are owned and maintained by separate teams. These separate teams are responsible for maintaining and updating their particular microservice. Moreover, since each microservice is developed by keeping a single business capability in mind, testing them individually becomes easier. These microservices can be run without containers however, that does not cut down on the effort or complexity. This is why it is highly recommended that developers always use containers to run microservices.

    Containers not only enable application isolation but also help developers work in fine-grain execution environments. This is made possible due to the lightweight nature of the containers. Plus, application isolation also allows developers to run multiple and different components on one operating system. The processing power of application components is thus freed up thereby reducing overhead.

    Docker is better when run on Kubernetes and since microservices utilize containers, running these microservices on Kubernetes is the best way to go. Here are other benefits of running microservices on Kubernetes that you might want to consider:

    • Traditionally, network administrators always bought extra processing power to make space for sudden spikes in demand. This makes for an inefficient resource allocation and also increases costs. Kubernetes tightly and smartly schedules all containers. Even in scenarios of a sudden spike, Kubernetes can accordingly boost processing power to make space for the same thus reducing resource costs.
    • Development teams can be split into smaller teams, each working on a particular microservice. Using Kubernetes not only allows this but also helps all teams stay in constant touch with each other since all changes are updated simultaneously and seamlessly.
    • Since Kubernetes is a 100% open source, one can easily integrate it with a variety of cloud server options - hybrid cloud, on-premise data center, multicloud, public cloud, and/or private cloud. Developers no longer face the restrictions they would face in case they used a framework that didn’t allow seamless integration. Moreover, switching between multicloud and hybrid cloud is made easier as well.

    Do note that managing any combination of multicloud or hybrid cloud infrastructure can be hard and complicated. Cloudplex offers a unified tool that streamlines all relevant processes and provides all developers with a global view of their Kubernetes clusters. Every change and update can be managed from a single dashboard. Plus, handling outliers and errors in such complex cloud infrastructures is a cakewalk as well.

    Kubernetes to avoid cloud and vendor lock

    Another simple answer to “When to use Kubernetes” is if you are looking to avoid cloud lock and vendor lock. This means that being vendor-agnostic and cloud-agnostic is a priority for you. Vendor-agnostic simply means that a company does not want to be tied to the services of one particular service provider or vendor. Similarly, cloud-agnostic means that the company doesn’t want to get tied down to one single cloud service provider.

    Being cloud-agnostic and vendor-agnostic enables businesses to avoid cloud and vendor lock. This means that they can easily shift between different cloud formats - public, private, on-premise, multicloud, hybrid cloud - without any repercussions, limitations, or hidden costs.

    Other benefits include:

    • Any changes to the business-IT landscape can be easily accommodated by switching to a preferred cloud hosting provider.
    • Spreading workloads across different cloud services also eliminate dependency on one single vendor in case there’s an outage or business interruption on their end.
    • It also enables businesses to work flexibly with different vendors and make use of the best features that they provide.

    Now, Kubernetes is a 100% open source and vendor-agnostic technology. For on-premise container orchestration, numerous cloud providers provide managed Kubernetes services. By eliminating vendor lock, businesses are able to design, manage, and scale both multicloud and hybrid cloud infrastructures with superb ease and convenience. Moreover, Kubernetes is an abstraction of the infrastructure thus making higher-level services separate. This enables the framework to become incredibly portable and future-ready.

    When not to use Kubernetes

    As we discuss “When to use Kubernetes” and “Why to use Kubernetes”, understanding “When not to use Kubernetes” is crucial as well. There are essentially two scenarios where a business might want to think long and hard before transitioning to Kubernetes.

    If you think managing a Kubernetes cluster, its security, monitoring, and observability will be and overhead

    Transitioning to Kubernetes isn’t just an IT decision but also a business capability decision. One needs to carefully understand its production costs and the hidden costs associated with the system. If you believe managing a Kubernetes cluster - security, monitoring, and observability - is an overhead for your business, you might want to take a step back.

    However, if you wish to benefit from Kubernetes without these drawbacks, making use of Cloudplex is an incredibly smart decision. With painless and seamless management of Kubernetes - designing, developing, testing, and deploying - Cloudplex makes releasing powerful and robust microservices an easy task.

    If you don’t have enough knowledge to manage clusters in production and deploy your applications to Kubernetes

    Kubernetes is a complex and advanced container orchestration framework that needs experts to deal with it. Without in-depth knowledge of Kubernetes and its related tools and processes, one cannot work with it easily. However, developers don’t necessarily need to learn Kubernetes.

    Managed Kubernetes services such as Google or Amazon can be quite a relief for developers and need only basic knowledge to kick-off. Plus, there are integrated services such as Cloudplex that enable developers to work without any complex structures. The simple drag-and-drop canvas is intuitive to use and enables easier designing, testing, deploying, monitoring, and rendering of the microservices while simultaneously removing redundancies.

    Pitfalls of migrating to Kubernetes

    Even if your use cases fit with Kubernetes, you still need to consider several pitfalls of migrating to the framework. One of the most crucial pitfalls of migrating to Kubernetes is how to refactor a monolithic application into microservices to be used on the Kubernetes framework. For better deployment, faster updates, and robust resilience, you must try and break the complete application into useful and valuable microservices.

    Another pitfall is that if you haven’t containerized your entire infrastructure, you will need to do that first before shifting to Kubernetes. Plus, if you don’t have enough knowledge about Kubernetes, you might not be able to manage it well. Whether you choose to go in-house or outsource the work, detailed knowledge can help you manage the systems better.

    Lastly, even though Kubernetes has no license or subscription fee, the hidden costs associated with the migration might be too costly for a company to undertake. Two of the heaviest hidden costs associated with the migration is upskilling your developers and managing the productivity loss associated with learning best practices.

    Incorporating Kubernetes needs thorough homework

    Incorporating Kubernetes without doing proper homework on it can result in numerous repercussions very early on. If you are trying to understand “When to use Kubernetes”, give a thought to the following:

    • To adopt a multicloud infrastructure
    • To implement hybrid cloud infrastructure
    • To gain in-depth insights on observability
    • To make development via containers easier
    • To implement robust and powerful microservices
    • To stay cloud and vendor-agnostic
    • When you have excellent knowledge of the framework

    If you are trying to understand “When not to use Kubernetes”, give a thought to the following:

    • When Kubernetes management (security, monitoring, observability) is a business overhead
    • When you do not have enough knowledge about the framework

    Even if your business finds it possible to make the transition to the Kubernetes cluster, your developers might still face numerous issues along the way. The pitfalls of migrating to Kubernetes are many. You might not be able to break down your traditional applications into microservices or you might not have containerized your entire infrastructure. There’s also the possibility that you don’t have enough knowledge about sustainably incorporating Kubernetes clusters into your production. The great thing about this is that even in the face of such pitfalls, emerging victorious is not very tough.

    Cloudplex is your perfect Kubernetes partner.

    Whether developers and businesses are looking to develop, deploy, monitor, or secure their Kubernetes architecture, Cloudplex can enable them to do so powerfully and with ease. Now, you need not worry about complex installations, heavy manual configurations, or not being able to figure out your system’s health. The complete process from configuration to development to production deployment is made extremely painless and fast.

    Cloudplex brings to developers ease of managing Kubernetes in four major domains. Cloudplex features like Manifest management, Volume management, Integration with Knative, Istio, Container Registries, and more enables businesses to develop their core business applications easily. When it comes to deploying and monitoring, features such as Network and Traffic Management, CI/CD Integration, Kubernetes RBAC, Auto-scaling, and more come in super handy. Lastly, Cloudplex also offers superb security features such as Policy-based Access Control, Application-Centric Collaboration, Data Security, and more.

    Cloudplex offers an intuitive and easy-to-use drag-and-drop canvas that makes managing Kubernetes applications a breeze. Now, YAML config and manifest files won’t give you hell, and developers would no longer spend time trying to make use of the best practices.

    With Cloudplex, you can utilize best industry practices to optimally code your Kubernetes cluster all the while saving time and productivity to focus on core business applications.

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    Founder and CEO of Cloudplex - We make Kubernetes easy for developers.

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