Kubernetes

Serious Container Management Requires Kubernetes

Containers are all the rage. As a 2020 survey by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation discovered, over 84% of respondents were already using containers in 2019. That figure alone tells you just how pervasive containers are.

But why have containers become so crucial to enterprise businesses? One of the most important factors is that containers help make companies more agile. With containers, your developers can quickly deploy and scale an application to meet just about any size demand. And, with the right tools, the deployment and management can even be automated. In fact, without containers, a CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) pipeline wouldn’t be possible.

In today’s modern business world, you need that level of agility and flexibility. 

To deploy your containers, you can go the simple route and use the Docker Engine. With that platform, you could even deploy a simple-to-manage cluster, called a Docker Swarm, and it will work great. Docker makes deploying containers incredibly easy. 

However, with that simplicity, you lose the ability to orchestrate your deployments in such a way that benefits larger companies. For that, you need a tool like Kubernetes.

What is Kubernetes?

To put it simply, Kubernetes is an open-source, enterprise container orchestration platform for the deployment, automation, scaling, and management of applications and services.

Originally designed by Google, Kubernetes is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and has become essential for large-scale container deployment. 

Kubernetes clusters can be deployed with on-premise server hardware or in cloud-hosted virtual machines and are comprised of components such as:

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    Cluster - a group of nodes that work together.
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    Containers - a self-contained application that can be deployed to a cluster.
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    Pods - the smallest deployable units of computing that can be created and managed.
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    Kube-apiserver - exposes the Kubernetes API.
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    Etcd - highly available key-value store.
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    Kube-scheduler - watches for newly created pods and selects a node for them to run on.
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    Kube-control-manager - the controller that resides on the master and controls all connected nodes in the cluster.
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    Node-controller - responds when nodes go down.
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    Replication-controller - responsible for maintaining the correct number of pods.

That’s the shortlist of the pieces of a Kubernetes cluster, which comes to show that Kubernetes is complicated. And that’s without considering that such a list only scratches the surface. In fact, Kubernetes isn’t for the faint of heart. Sure, deploying a Kubernetes cluster can be done in a few short minutes. The true challenge arises when it comes time to effectively deploying containers and pods.

To deploy containers and pods, you create a manifest that includes all of the necessary configurations for the deployment. These configurations include numerous important fields which define things like compute, memory, and networking. To make matters even more challenging, you might have a single manifest that contains configurations for numerous applications and services, each of which contains numerous configuration options.

The larger the deployment, the more complex the manifest. And when you’re deploying those containers/pods to a cloud-hosted service, you need to make sure your manifest is properly configured, otherwise, you could wind up spending more money than you might think. 

Because of that, it’s absolutely crucial that you have a team of developers and admins who know Kubernetes very well. The point of this technology isn’t only to help your company become more agile but also to save money and add a level of reliability and scalability you might not have experienced before.

What Your Developers Need to Know

First and foremost, your developers need to have a solid understanding of what container technology is. They need to truly get the benefits of containers, how they function, and how they are used to improve your business’ functionality and bottom line.

Developers who will be working with Kubernetes must also understand how to use Linux, as this will most likely be the operating system used for the deployment of Kubernetes clusters. They will also need a rock-solid foundation that includes such things as:

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    YAML syntax and indentation
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    Container runtime engines (such as Podman, Docker, or containerd)
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    How container images are pulled and developed
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    Cgroups best practices
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    Helm charts
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    Istio service mesh
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    Security prioritization
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    How to containerize an application
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    Kubernetes network services (and how they interact)
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    Debugging
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    Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC)
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    Automation technology

As we said, Kubernetes isn’t easy. In fact, if your developers and admins approach Kubernetes without first understanding how it functions (and all the pieces that go into deploying/managing a cluster), they can do more harm than good.

One problem is that some admins/developers approach Kubernetes in the same way they’d approach a monolithic application deployment. This is wrong on every conceivable level. Microservices require a very different approach, otherwise, they’ll either fail or become a security nightmare.

Another issue is that some businesses will simply throw an admin at the job and assume they alone are capable of deploying and managing a Kubernetes cluster. They can’t. To successfully work with Kubernetes, you need a team of developers, operation managers, and admins, each of which must go into the project properly trained and ready to hit the ground running.

Conclusion

If you’re serious about growing your business to meet the current state of demand, containers are most likely in your immediate future. To really get the most out of those container deployments, you need a powerful orchestration tool. There is no better option for this than Kubernetes.

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