For a technology that the average person has probably never heard of, Kubernetes surged in popularity in 2017 with a particular group of IT pros who are working with container technology. Kubernetes is the orchestration engine that underlies how operations staff deploy and manage receptacles at scale.( For the low-down on containers, check out this article .)
In plain English, that means that as the number of receptacles grows then you need a tool to help launching and track them all. And because the idea of receptacles — and the so-called “microservices” model it enables — is to break down a complex monolithic app into much smaller and more manageable pieces, the number of receptacles tends to increase over day. Kubernetes has become the de facto criterion tool for that job.
Kubernetes is actually an open source project, originally developed at Google, which is managed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation( CNCF ). Over the last year, we’ve considered some of the biggest names in tech flocking to the CNCF including AWS, Oracle, Microsoft and others, in large proportion since they are want to have some influence over the development of Kubernetes.
As Kubernetes has gained momentum, it has become a platform for invention and business ideas( as tends to happen with popular open source projects ). Once you get beyond the early adopters, companies start to see opportunities to help customers who want to move to the new technology, but lack internal expertise. Companies can create commercial opportunities by hiding some of the underlying complexity associated with using a tool like this.
We are starting to see this in a big way with Kubernetes as companies begin to build products based on the open source that delivers a more a packaged approach that makes it easier to use and enforce without having to learn all of the tool’s nuances.
To give you a sense of how quickly usage had increased, 451 Research did a receptacle survey in 2015 and observed merely 10 percent of respondents were using some sort of container orchestration tool, whether Kubernetes or a competitor. Just two years later in a follow-up survey, 451 found that 71% of respondents were use Kubernetes to manage their containers.
Google’s Sam Ramji, who is VP of product management at Google( and was formerly CEO at Cloud Foundry Foundation ), says it feels like an overnight sensation, but like many things it was a long time in the making. The direct antecedent of Kubernetes is a Google project called Borg. Ramji points out that Google was operating containers in production for a decade before the company released Kubernetes as an open source project in 2014.
“There was almost a decade of container management at scale in Google. It wasn’t an experiment. It was code that ran the Google business at scale on Borg. Kubernetes is built from scratch based on those lessons, ” Ramji said.
Cloud native computing
One of the big drivers behind use Kubernetes and cloud native tools in general is that companies are increasingly operating in a hybrid world where some of their resources are in the cloud and some on-prem in a data center. Tools like Kubernetes provide a framework for managing applications wherever they happen to live in a consistent way.
That consistency is one big reason for its popularity. If IT was forced to manage applications in two different places employing two different tools( or situateds of tools ), it would( and does) create a confusing mess that stimulates it difficult to understand just what resources they are using and where the data is living at any particular moment.
One reason the Cloud Native Computing Foundation is called that( instead of the Kubernetes foundation ), is that Google and other governing members recognize that Kubernetes is only part of the cloud native narrative. It may be a big component, but they want to encourage a much richer system of tools. By naming it more broadly, they are encouraging the open source community to build tools to expand the ability to manage infrastructure in a cloud native fashion.
Big companies on board
If you look at the top 10 contributors to the project, it involves some major technology players, some of whom cross over into OpenStack, Linux and other open source projects.These include Google, Red Hat, CoreOS, FathomDB, ZTE Corporation, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Fujitsu, and Mirantis.
Dan Kohn, the CNCF’s executive director, says these companies have recognized that it’s easier to cooperate around the base technology and vie on higher level tools. “I would describe an analogy back to Linux. People describe Kubernetes as the’ Linux of the cloud’. It’s not that all of these companies have decided to hold hands or are not vying for the same clients. But they have recognized that trying to compete in receptacle orchestration doesn’t have a lot of value, ” he said.