As we close out 2021, we at Container Journal wanted to highlight the most popular articles of the year. Following is the eighth in our series of the Best of 2021.
Technology experts have been praising Kubernetes and its enterprise benefits for some time. Kubernetes technology is open by nature and gives organizations the ability to containerize their applications—an essential capability for the increasing number of businesses operating on cloud infrastructure.
But it’s not just technology experts that are starting to see the value of Kubernetes, C-suite execs also are starting to take note.
Gartner predicts that 70% of global organizations will be running more than two containerized applications by 2023. With containerized applications, organizations realize the benefits of easier configuration, faster deployment and more efficient and reliable software. It is the unique ability of Kubernetes to scale and manage these containerized applications, however, that makes it a top choice over virtual machines and other provisioning software for boosting efficiencies and delivering business value.
Behind the Kubernetes Curtain
Kubernetes has a track record for delivering on potential. A recent VMware study shows 95% of participants realized benefits from Kubernetes, including 56% who saw improved resource utilization—meaning reduced private or public cloud compute resources costs. Another 33% of respondents said Kubernetes delivered lower public cloud costs, as they are more agile than other provisioning software alternatives.
Virtual machines, for example, consume a lot of system resources, with copies of the software it provisions and a guest operating system. And virtual machines are relatively static, so it is hard to move them between on-premises servers, private clouds or the public cloud.
But a containerized software application runs on an external operating system, eliminating the amount of compute resources necessary to run the multiple guest operating systems. A container also has central tools to manage how applications use server resources, which, along with the fact that there are no longer multiple operating systems to manage, reduces administrative overhead.
Fast Developments, Even Faster Start-Ups
Kubernetes also stands out in terms of software development cycles, with 53% of respondents reporting faster cycles with Kubernetes. If Kubernetes is embedded in an enterprise software platform, providers can bring new software features and capabilities to market, and into the hands of customers, faster. In turn, businesses can themselves quickly adapt to changes in the market and regulatory environment, and even turn that agility into a competitive advantage.
A Business is Only as Agile as its Software
Its ability to rapidly scale gives Kubernetes a competitive edge, as enterprise IT experts seek agile software that can respond to unpredictable market demands.
Organizations are having to constantly change or reset processes and requirements—no more “set it and forget it”! Now, changing customer demands, dynamic go-to-market strategies and the introduction of disruptive technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented/virtual reality (ARVR), all mean the enterprise stack must be updated on an increasingly regular basis.
Put the Power Back in Businesses’ Hands
But the migration to the cloud marches on. In 2019, IFS conducted a study of 600 business decision makers to gauge cloud migration progress and strategies. Compared to a similar IFS study in 2012, the percentage of companies now relying on various forms of cloud enterprise software provisioning almost doubled, while the percentage of companies with on-premises solutions was almost halved.
On-premises deployments still have a place, though. Organizations need to be able to move back and forth between public cloud, private cloud or on-premises, or even an on-premises or private cloud to seamlessly make use of compute resources in a public cloud to handle peak or hockey stick demand. Applications built with Kubernetes just make this easier.
Kubernetes can help orchestrate containerization in a multitude of environments, including hosting software on a vendor’s cloud, self-hosting by a business, or in a hybrid environment, allowing businesses to offload some of the deployment complexity. This means functions that might be better held closed, due to regulatory requirements, can be run on-premises or wherever is most practical for the customer. Courtesy of Kubernetes, different parts of the application can be run from separate servers – on-premises, private cloud, public cloud – all depending on what makes sense to the end user.
Putting Security First
Every CIO will understand that with every new deployment, security issues immediately make themselves known. Which external device or system is authorized to access the software? Which users are enabled to view and interact with which data? All these rules and policies must be enforced as the application changes. But with Kubernetes acting as a container orchestration tool in the software stack, this degree of management is easier, as security is addressed early in the software development process.
The most advanced enterprise software applications will increasingly own the Kubernetes container orchestration process in ways that automatically respects the security and permissions reflected in the application as a whole. Enterprise applications will deliver the software services in the form of Docker containers, orchestrated by Kubernetes. This will provide the scaling benefits of having regional Kubernetes clusters serve multiple customers, and the software vendor will ensure the application retains full separation and privacy of customers’ solutions through use of customer-specific Kubernetes namespaces, network separation, encryption and database instances. Enterprise software vendors not intent on selling their own proprietary technology can make use of packaged Kubernetes environments, such as Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service, for example, in their technology stack.
The Potential of Kubernetes Should Not Be Ignored
Business is becoming more unpredictable, and with that the need for agile enterprise software is only increasing. Kubernetes-enabled software stacks unlock true flexibility and scalability for organizations while putting security at the heart of all deployments. Decision-makers who want to future-proof their business against an uncertain future should take note of its potential.