Over the last few years, and here in 2022, it has become clear that Kubernetes is here to stay and only becoming more popular. Initially, it was thought that only the largest of companies could benefit from using Kubernetes. However, in recent years, it has become clear that companies large and small stand to benefit from migrating legacy workloads to K8s and to use it early and often with new projects.
In this article, we explore nine core benefits of using Kubernetes and explain why your organization should prioritize it this year.
1) Kubernetes automates containerized environments
Containerization is the future and it comes with many benefits. Containerization is the notion of packaging code with only the OS or operating system, and the required dependencies to create a single executable, the container, which can run on infrastructure.
Because containers do not need a full OS and instead run with a shared OS kernel, containers are smaller, faster, and more portable versus traditional virtual machines, or VMs.
For companies using a microservices architecture, containers are the go-to choice. Kubernetes makes containerized environments possible by acting as the orchestration system. Kubernetes automates the operational requirements of running containerized workloads.
2) Scaling up and down
Autoscaling is one of Kubernetes’ most talked about and important features. With Kubernetes, companies are able to efficiently scale up and down based on actual demand. Kubernetes has three different autoscaling capabilities:
Horizontal Pod Autoscaler (HPA), often referred to as scaling out, will automatically scale the number of pods available depending on resource usage.
Vertical Pod Autoscaler (VPA), often referred to as scaling up, can automatically adjust the CPU and memory for existing machines.
Cluster Autoscaler is importantly able to scale up the number of nodes automatically when pods are unable to scale further, up to the maximum size of the node pool.
Autoscaling is important for both end-user performance and the accounting department. Autoscaling is an efficient way to run workloads and can lead to meaningful cost efficiencies which we explore below.
3) Strong open source communities
Kubernetes was created by Google and donated to the CNCF in 2014. Since the v1.0 release in 2015, the open-source community has rallied around the project with over 100,000 commits by over 3,000 contributors.
The CNCF has grown too. Today, the CNCF counts 656 corporate members and the organization has fostered the growth of many popular open-source communities.
Each year, the CNCF hosts Kubecon, the premier conference for the Kubernetes community. At Kubecon, attendees are treated to expert sessions from the industry, opportunities for networking, and of course, a large number of sponsors. It is this vibrant community that has defined Kubernetes and has led to continued innovation and improvements to the core platform.
4) Cost efficiencies and savings
One of the earliest and most popular reasons to migrate to Kubernetes was due to the cost efficiencies and savings that are possible. Organizations with varying degrees of demand and scalability challenges have found meaningful cost savings with Kubernetes.
As mentioned above, Kubernetes has autoscaling capabilities that allow companies to scale up and down the number of resources they are using in real-time. When paired with a flexible cloud provider, Kubernetes is able to efficiently use exactly the right amount of resources based on demand at given points in time.
For example, if you are running a video streaming company, and at times during the night viewership increases dramatically, Kubernetes is able to scale both the number of pods and nodes to meet the demand and ensure user performance without being wasteful.
5) Ability to run anywhere
With Kubernetes, you are able to use nearly every container runtime with nearly any type of infrastructure.
Whether you are running your workloads on-prem or using a public cloud, you are able to use Kubernetes as long as the host operating system is using a recent, typically 2016 or newer, version of Linux or Windows.
For large organizations with complex and variable infrastructure environments, Kubernetes can be used across these environments at scale, whereas, other container orchestration systems are typically stuck with a small number of options.
6) Multi-cloud possibilities
Because of its portability, Kubernetes workloads can exist in a single cloud or spread across multiple clouds. At our company, we are currently running workloads on multiple managed Kubernetes providers, and we are able to efficiently scale our environments from one to another.
Today, the majority of major cloud providers have Kubernetes-specific offerings. For example, Amazon’s AWS has EKS, Google’s GCP has GKE, and Microsoft’s Azure has AKS.
Kubernetes makes it easy for all organizations to take advantage of multi-cloud environments, and avoid vendor lock-in.
7) Improve developer productivity
Due to its declarative constructs, engineering teams are able to move significantly faster with Kubernetes. Scaling and deploying are made much easier as a result of improved deployment methodologies. And with Kubernetes, teams are able to take advantage of GitOps.
Since 2017, GitOps has been a popular model for Kubernetes cluster management and application delivery. Engineers are able to use familiar tooling to make pull requests and simplify deployments and operational tasks.
Kubernetes helps engineers move more efficiently in both the short and long term.
8) Native tooling available
Kubernetes has a passionate group of engineers investing their time in building both open-source and third-party tools. While Kubernetes has its many benefits, there are intricacies and sometimes challenges with legacy tooling. However, in 2022, there are many tools and companies building Kubernetes native features and support.
The open-source community has rallied around popular tools like Prometheus, which is popularly used for metric collection and monitoring.
And there are many native third-party solutions for everything from monitoring to logging, cost management, load testing, and security.
By using a native toolset, engineering teams are able to save time and work more efficiently.
9) Increased experience and popularity
Kubernetes has rapidly increased in popularity and the number of engineers with experience in Kubernetes has grown. According to a 2021 study by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, from 2020 to 2021, the number of Kubernetes engineers grew by 67% to 3.9 million.
The growing number of engineers with experience in Kubernetes is great for businesses of all sizes. And the same CNCF survey found that 69% of their respondents are using Kubernetes in production and that 31% of backend engineers globally are using Kubernetes.
As engineering teams plan for the future, those building with Kubernetes may stand to attract the top talent, or at a minimum, be able to show prospective candidates that they are prioritizing new technologies and efficiencies for the organization.
It is clear that Kubernetes is here to stay as the leading container orchestration system. And it is largely expected that more businesses will be using Kubernetes this year and in the years ahead.
There are many benefits of using Kubernetes and we covered many of them here in our article. Included, Kubernetes makes scaling up and down easy, it can improve productivity for the entire engineering team, and it gives organizations portability. The net impact of all of these improvements will only lead to happier end-users and engineering departments.
It is important to stay up to date with the latest trends and advances in the Kubernetes ecosystem. The Airplane blog is an excellent resource for all things Kubernetes, including How-To guides, tutorials, and expert commentary.