While most enterprise IT organizations at this point have had some exposure to Kubernetes, it’s not clear how Kubernetes will eventually manifest in the enterprise.
Most IT organizations are gaining their initial exposure to Kubernetes via a managed service in the cloud that a development team has invoked. But not every workload developed in the cloud stays in the cloud. Because of performance, security and compliance concerns, it’s only a matter of time before more workloads designed to be run on a Kubernetes cluster start showing up in on-premises IT environments.
That’s not, however, the only path to the enterprise for Kubernetes. Independent software vendors increasingly are relying on the technology to provide a runtime on which they can deploy their applications anywhere. In many cases, internal IT operations teams will get their first glimpse of Kubernetes running in an on-premises production environment when they discover it’s been embedded in a packaged application.
In most cases, that instance of Kubernetes will be deployed on a virtual machine. But there will also be plenty of use cases where running it on a bare-metal server makes perfect sense as well. The issue going forward is not so much whether Kubernetes is coming to the enterprise, but rather how to manage it in all its forms.
Kip Compton, senior vice president of the Cloud Platform and Solutions Group at Cisco, says IT organizations soon will look to centralize the management of distributions of Kubernetes. Trying to manage multiple distributions in isolation from one another is both costly and impractical. At the same time, most IT operations teams don’t have the political capital required to force the entire organization to standardize on a single distribution of Kubernetes. Each IT vendor will have its preferred curated distribution that it would like to see deployed whenever and wherever possible. That said, there are now more than 70 distributions that have been certified by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
Cisco is hardly the only IT vendor eyeing this opportunity. Cisco has allied with Google on common instance. But as its management frameworks continue to evolve, it’s apparent Cisco, along with IBM and Red Hat, view Kubernetes as means toward driving a more ambitious hybrid cloud computing agenda.
It may take the better part of 2019 for IT organizations to fully appreciate the hybrid cloud computing capabilities that Kubernetes enables. The most immediate issue is making sure that whatever distribution that is adopted in the enterprise is not based on a “fork” that locks them into a specific platform.
In the meantime, Kubernetes experimentation should continue unabated. While most IT organizations may have embraced it to some degree, the number of workloads running on Kubernetes as a percentage of the enterprise whole remains slight. That, however, won’t be the case for very much longer as the number of clusters distributed across the enterprise increase.