Today, in the IT infrastructure world, everyone is talking about Kubernetes—the container platform Google open-sourced in 2014. Kubernetes is the 5th hottest IT skill trending on our Udemy platform of 24+ million learners.

The reality is adopting Kubernetes can significantly increase the agility and efficiency of your software and infrastructure teams. Kubernetes can help you accelerate your ideas to market faster by reducing the time and risk involved in bringing a new app to production.

Releasing software

Until recently, the ideal way to deploy a software application would be to package it in an archive, containing just the (compiled) application code. If your company is developing Java, for example, developers might package the code in a “jar” or “war” file. Every programming language has their own preferable way of packaging the software for release. Another popular way to package software is to use Operating System specific packaging systems. This approach has the benefit that dependencies on external software can be included.

All of these approaches work, but they often result in software releases going wrong. Operations would blame developers and vice versa. Applications sometimes have dependencies that operations don’t know about, and are only discovered at deployment time. Often applications are written on a developer system which is significantly different than the production environment, leading to discrepancies which again are only uncovered when the app needs to be released. Major differences between how an application runs on development, staging, and production mean that there are always unknown risks in bringing an app to production.

Containers solve these challenges

The use of containers helps to solve this problem. Containers bundle the application code with all the Operating System binaries and libraries that are necessary to run the application. The container image contains everything to run the app, so the app will run in the same way locally on the developer machine, as on test, QA, and production servers. Docker is the most popular container software and is used to build, run, and distribute container images.

Container Orchestration using Kubernetes

Companies are now convinced that Docker is a better way to release applications within the organization. Recent surveys by DigitalOcean show 49% adoption of container usage by Developers. Now that containers are gaining momentum, companies need to manage all these newly created containers, which brings us to Container Orchestrators. Kubernetes is a Container Orchestration platform that will orchestrate (manage) your running containers on a set of servers, the Kubernetes cluster.

A Kubernetes cluster can be deployed on all major cloud providers, and also on-premises, allowing companies to execute a Hybrid-Cloud Strategy. By abstracting the underlying infrastructure, Kubernetes allows you to run containers the same way on-prem as in the cloud. This is the new way of working: cloud native applications that are packaged in containers that can run anywhere you want.

With Kubernetes you will be able to run containers, deploy new application versions, and roll back applications when a deployment fails. You can manage your app configuration, your application secrets, your SSL certificates (security encryption), and your storage. Almost everything on an infrastructure level can be declared as code within Kubernetes, providing a uniform platform and abstracting away the underlying infrastructure. It doesn’t matter anymore whether you are running on AWS, Azure, Google cloud, or bare metal in your own data center, Kubernetes runs everywhere.

Microservices: breaking up monolithic applications

One of the current trends is to break up monolithic applications and turn them into microservices. Amazon, Netflix, and LinkedIn are all companies who’ve successfully adopted a microservices strategy. They give small teams ownership of a small part of the application (a microservice) and let them make all the decisions on how to build this service. It has been a great journey for those companies. They’ve enhanced efficiency, while increasing reliability and scalability.

If you’re using or planning to use microservices, Containerization and Kubernetes are great technologies to have. Running small components within containers and having them deployed and redeployed quickly using Kubernetes turns out to be a great competitive advantage for development teams. It brings code much quicker to production and Kubernetes can help you scale when the app gains more traction.

Kubernetes enables a cloud-native journey and faster time-to-market

Kubernetes is one of the key technologies that allows you to adopt a Cloud Native Strategy within your company. Cloud Native lets you use the advantages of the Cloud Delivery Model, like scalability, resiliency, self-healing applications, and instances. Enterprises that adopt this strategy should be able to bring ideas to market faster by being able to reduce the time and risk to bring an app to production. Once an application is in production, it is more resilient, and can be scaled instantly, because orchestration abstracts away the individual servers and allows containers to be deployed almost effortlessly.

The migration to cloud-native applications isn’t something you can do overnight. The Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) created a Trail Map to give companies a process to follow to adopt Kubernetes and migrate to Cloud Native applications. This trail map starts with Containerization, Continuous Integration, and Continuous Delivery, before taking on Kubernetes as an Orchestration Platform.

How to deploy Kubernetes at your organization

Going on this journey means developer teams and operational staff need to be trained. My course on Learn DevOps: The Complete Kubernetes Course is the centerpiece of an ecosystem. Learning this skill will open up a whole new world of technologies that will enable companies to deliver software quicker, be more resilient with less risk, and make developers’ lives easier. Find out how to upskill your team with a Udemy for Business subscription.

Public cloud companies have realized the importance of Kubernetes and have all started offering services to run Kubernetes clusters in the cloud. In June, Amazon AWS has made their Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) available to the public. Microsoft provides a similar service with Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), and Google also has an offering called Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

Kubernetes runs both on the cloud and on-premises. An on-prem install takes more effort, but tools like kubeadm and kubespray are making it easier to quickly get started with Kubernetes. If you’re looking to just test out Kubernetes, then minikube is a great solution that spins up a one-node cluster on laptop or desktop.

Kubernetes isn’t going to solve all your problems, but it will lead to greater agility, efficiency, and help you bring your software apps to market faster.

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Courses by Edward Viaene