A survey published today of 167 IT executives finds that while 77% of respondents have been working with Kubernetes clusters in some form for the past two years, only 40% have deployed them in a production environment. Just under a quarter of those respondents have deployed Kubernetes clusters in a production environment within the last 12 months.
The survey, conducted by Dimensional Insight on behalf of Spectro Cloud, a provider of a management platform for Kubernetes clusters, polled organizations with more than 500 employees. More than half (55%) reported that less than half of the Kubernetes clusters they have provisioned are in a production environment, with just under a quarter (24%) indicating that about half of their clusters are in production. Only 21% said that they currently have more than half of their clusters in production. Only 4% report that Kubernetes is being used as a one-off platform in their organization.
A full 98% of respondents report myriad Kubernetes challenges ranging from implementing consistent management and controls for enterprise environments (49%) to managing multicluster (46%) and heterogeneous multi-cloud environments (42%). These are followed by challenges with integrating required services (41%), managing security (41%) and meeting compliance requirements due to configuration drift (34%), managing the needs of one-off use cases such as artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) or GPU support (33%) and scaling to large environments (24%).
More than three-quarters (77%) of respondents said that being able to run diverse Kubernetes stacks across different environments is vital but that it also makes it harder to manage those clusters. Two-thirds (66%) said they do not believe they can have both flexibility and usability in a Kubernetes environment.
In addition, survey respondents are split in terms of best practices for cluster deployments, with more half 54% preferring to run a larger number of small clusters. Well over one-third (38%) prefer to run multiple applications on a small number of larger clusters (38%). Among respondents with more than 20 Kubernetes clusters, there is a marked preference for multi-tenant environments (70%).
Spectro Cloud CEO Tenry Fu says that as Kubernetes adoption continues to mature he expects to see more bare-metal deployments of Kubernetes as part of an effort to both improve performance and reduce costs by eliminating virtual machine licenses. The number of organizations that will be deploying a service mesh on top of multiple Kubernetes clusters to manage east-west traffic will also increase in the months ahead, he adds.
In addition, as the number of clusters continues to grow, it’s only a matter of time before more organizations rely on a management framework that makes it possible to manage larger numbers of Kubernetes clusters at a higher level of abstraction.
The decision to deploy Kubernetes is equally likely to have been driven by application developers (47%) as IT operations (49%), the survey shows. The primary owner of production Kubernetes deployments is mostly likely IT operations (50%) or DevOps (25%). DevOps and site reliability engineers (SREs) are more likely to have ownership in larger environments, the survey notes. Nearly two-thirds (63%), however, said IT operations took ownership with five or fewer Kubernetes clusters. When IT operations teams own Kubernetes, it’s typically because of security (64%), technology maturity (61%) or compliance (50%); a specific number of clusters (21%) and users (19%).
When asked more broadly, the Spectro Cloud survey finds ownership of Kubernetes clusters spans IT operations and infrastructure (78%), DevOps (62%), development (47%), SREs (16%) and line of business (10%). More than three-quarters (77%) have standardized on a corporate Kubernetes platform, but nearly half (48%) also have Kubernetes clusters that the primary owner does not manage.
The management of Kubernetes clusters as they continue to evolve is clearly a team sport. It’s not clear if that will be the case forever, but for now, at least, it seems it takes a proverbial IT village to maintain a Kubernetes environment.