What Your Developers Need to Know Before They Start Working With Kubernetes

Kubernetes is a very challenging technology to use. Before your developers even begin their journey with this container orchestrator, they need to understand these concepts.
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Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform that makes it possible for your company to deploy applications and services at a massive scale. On top of that, you can automate the entire DevOps software lifecycle around this platform. Any enterprise business hoping to be able to keep up with an ever-growing demand will have already considered Kubernetes as an option.

But the second you dive into Kubernetes, your developers will immediately realize they have a long road ahead of them. Although getting a Kubernetes cluster up and running isn’t all that challenging, everything after that can quickly become overwhelming. In fact, without the right preparation, your developers are going to seriously struggle to get up to speed with Kubernetes to truly benefit your company.

So what do those developers need to know before they start working with Kubernetes? Let’s take a look at some of the skills your engineers will need for your business to make the most out of your container deployments.

Don’t Depend On Documentation

The first thing your developers must understand is that the documentation for Kubernetes isn’t good. It’s not that the company behind Kubernetes isn’t capable of writing good documentation. The problem is the speed at which Kubernetes is evolving. In fact, few projects move as quickly as Kubernetes.

The reason for this unheard-of agility is because so many enterprise businesses depend on Kubernetes. Because of that, it’s constantly changing. Unfortunately, the documentation doesn’t always keep up with those changes. You’ll often find the official documentation contains elements that are either outdated or broken. This means your developers are going to have to do a bit of research to get everything working exactly as needed.

Patience

On the heels of poor documentation, your developers are going to have to have a lot of patience. Learning Kubernetes is going to take some time. And getting those container deployments properly configured and optimized will take even more time. 

If you go into Kubernetes expecting to deploy that first app or service right out of the gate, you’ll be in for a long and frustrating road. That means your developers should take plenty of time to fully understand what they’re getting into before they attempt that first deployment.

Virtualization

One of the first concepts your developers should be familiar with is virtualization. And this isn’t just about knowing how to spin up a guest virtual machine with VirtualBox or VMware. Your developers should thoroughly understand the concepts behind virtualization, from hardware to software and all the layers in between.

Containers

Next, we have containers. You might think it’d be obvious that developers would need to understand containers before getting started with a container orchestrator. You’d be surprised how many skip this step. 

Before actually jumping into Kubernetes, your developers should first spend plenty of time familiarizing themselves with either Docker or Podman. Learn how to deploy containers with these 2 platforms and don’t even think about moving on to Kubernetes until they can successfully deploy containerized applications and services with either of those platforms. 

YAML

Even before your developers start working with either Docker or Podman, they’ll need to know YAML syntax. The first thing that trips developers up is poorly tabbed and spaced YAML files. With just one line out of place, your YAML file will fail and the container won’t be deployed. 

But it’s not just about indentation. Your engineers will need to become very familiar with the layout of Docker Files and other manifests (all of which are laid out in YAML format). Without an absolutely solid understanding of YAML, your developers will struggle from the very start. This should be an easy win for most developers.

DevOps

One of the goals of Kubernetes is to employ DevOps (the intersection of development and operations). This makes it possible to dramatically shorten and automate the software development lifecycle. By implementing DevOps, your company will not only be more agile, but you’ll also save on your bottom line and enjoy more reliable applications and services.

But DevOps isn’t just an idea to be planted on the shoulders of your developers. This is something multiple departments will have to be involved in. But the most important aspect is that everyone is capable of collaborating and working toward the same goal of automating the deployment and management of your applications and services via Kubernetes.

AWS/Google Cloud/Azure

Although you might be able to start your Kubernetes journey with a small cluster of on-premise data center servers, eventually you’ll have to migrate to a cloud-based service. Why? Because your in-house data center isn’t nearly as capable of scaling to massive proportions as is AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure. 

To that end, your developers need to be very familiar with these services. They need to know how to log in, use the dashboards, deploy virtual machines, and access those machines remotely.

Linux

Finally, your developers are going to have to know Linux, which is the de-facto standard operating system for deploying containerized applications. Without an understanding of how Linux works and how to use the open-source operating system, your developers are going to struggle.

Yes, they can do all of their development with Windows or macOS, but the process of deploying virtual machines and then deploying containers and managing them with Kubernetes is going to be all Linux all day.

Conclusion

And that’s the short list of things your developers should know before they dive into Kubernetes. But with these skills under their belts, they’ll have a much easier time getting off the ground with this incredibly powerful and widespread technology.

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