Survey Finds Lack of Kubernetes Expertise Hindering Adoption

A survey of 152 attendees of the recent Kubecon + CloudNativeCon 2018 conference published this week finds lack of expertise (53 percent) and operational complexity (50 percent) are the top two challenges hindering broader adoption of Kubernetes. Security challenges ranked third, at 41 percent, in the survey conducted by Nirmata, provider of Kubernetes deployment and management software delivered as a cloud service.

According to the survey, 51 percent of respondents are already using Kubernetes in a production environment, while 36 percent are also using Kubernetes in development and testing environments. Of those respondents, 78 percent said they are running or plan to run microservices-based applications on Kubernetes.

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Just less than a third of respondents cited YAML management (30 percent) as the most important application management requirement for Kubernetes, followed by integration (27 percent) and secrets management (24 percent).

In terms of Kubernetes management capabilities most wanted, survey respondents cited multi-cluster management (38 percent), followed by cluster add-on management (25 percent) and cluster configuration (17 percent).

The survey also asked respondents what movie title best describes their adventures with Kubernetes to date. “Great Expectations” for application modernization got the most votes (38 percent), followed by “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (34 percent) and, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kubernetes Cluster,” at (26 percent).

Ritesh Patel, vice president of marketing and products for Nirmata, says the Kubernetes skills issue unfortunately is one of the toughest issues to address inside any IT organization. Kubernetes, he says, was designed by engineers at Google to be used by engineers at Google—in fact, as part of making the transition to Kubernetes, Google has been urging IT organizations to embrace site reliability engineering (SRE) best practices, a specific set of recommendations for implementing DevOps. That said, most IT operations teams are made up of administrators, most of whom have little to no programming expertise or deep appreciation for engineering as a discipline.

IT organizations are then faced with the challenge of retraining their existing IT staff or competing to hire a limited pool for IT professionals that have Kubernetes certifications. In many instances, even when an IT organization can find a Kubernetes certified IT professional, they may not be able to retain them for long, given the number of opportunities currently available. Because of this issue, large number of IT organizations are increasingly relying on managed Kubernetes services provided by either cloud service providers directly or a third-party IT services firm.

The degree to which IT organizations will decide to rely on managed Kubernetes services permanently remains to be seen. Many IT leaders simply may view those services as a temporary stop gap. But Patel notes these Kubernetes skills issues are likely to become more acute as organizations not only deploy Kubernetes on-premises and in the cloud, but also look to adopt additional emerging technologies such as service meshes to manage microservices on top of Kubernetes.

In the meantime, the one thing that is certain is that for some time to come, demand for Kubernetes skills will far outstrip the available supply.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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