Originating from Google in 2014, Kubernetes has since taken its own path and become the key player in the containerization revolution. Microservices-based architecture is a widespread approach to software development but tends to be novel for many companies. Kubernetes, management software that allows developers to build and deploy workloads, is a platform that simplifies and automates testing, deployment, and development. In this article, we’ll dive into the unique architecture of Kubernetes and its numerous benefits and try to understand whether this software is suitable for your project.
Before talking about Kubernetes (K8s for short), we have to define containers: lightweight application components that can be executed autonomously. The containers store source code, including operating system libraries and dependencies sufficient to run the code. The foundation for modern apps with cloud native architecture, containers have won the battle against virtual machines due to smaller sizes, higher efficiency, and better portability.
Kubernetes is an open source container deployment, management, and scaling platform. Essentially, K8s provides everything necessary to deploy workloads while eliminating manual tasks. The platform offers access to container runtime and orchestration, load balancing, service discovery and restoration mechanisms.
If you want to envision how Kubernetes works, think of it as an operating system for cloud applications: you can use it to run your applications much like desktop apps run on Windows or MacOS. The platform allows development teams to focus on high-level automation and application management and delegate routine tasks to Kubernetes.
In simpler terms, Kubernetes architecture includes two main elements: the control plane and the nodes, both master and work nodes. The control plane is the center of the K8s architecture which manages the entire cluster. Composed of the API server, scheduler, controller manager and ETCD, it stores data pertaining to the state of all Kubernetes objects. The control plane remains in continuous contact with the nodes, also known as compute machines, to ensure the consistency of the configuration.
API Server: acting as the frontend of the control plane, the Kubernetes API Server is the gateway to services, nodes and pods necessary to operate the applications. The server provides updates and scaling to developers through numerous APIs.
Scheduler: the healthcare center of the Kubernetes cluster, the Scheduler checks its health status and determines which containers should be deployed. The system evaluates the pod’s CPU and memory resources and schedules tasks for an appropriate node while taking all vital factors into account.
Controller Manager: a function that runs the Kubernetes cluster through various controllers that drive the states of pods, nodes, services, tokens, and namespaces, the Controller Manager is the operational component of the K8s architecture. The main goal of the system is to observe the objects for their current and desired state and to ensure that the states match to provide the desired state across the system.
ETCD: an open source key-value database, ETCD stores data pertaining to the state of the cluster and acts as the single source of truth for the entire system.
Cluster nodes are the second primary part of the Kubernetes architecture and run pods composed of containers as well as container runtime engines like Docker. The nodes also support additional elements for logging, monitoring, etc.
Nodes: clusters require nodes to connect applications with networking, storage, and computing.
Kubelet: an agent that stays in touch with the control plane to ensure the containers in pods are functioning properly.
Pods: consisting of a single or a series of containers, pods act as a single interface of an app. Pods stop functioning after an upgrade or scaling takes place and can gain and cut the number of instances.
Services: functions that describe how pods can be accessed, Services define which pods use which service and allow developers to easily release new versions.
Other elements: Kubernetes also offers a policy-setting function that allows developers to enroll standards that prevent pods from using extra CPU, disk space, memory, etc. You can also take advantage of the K8s dashboard which captures data regarding all the components and allows you to deploy and troubleshoot applications.
The control plane takes command from an administrator and transmits the instructions to the computing machines to maintain the desired state of the cluster while the nodes perform the commands and run the applications. The system autonomously assesses which node is more suitable to execute a certain task thus relieving the team of the manual work. As a result, the administrator only focuses on configuring the platform and defining pods, nodes and containers while K8s takes care of the rest. The system can run on different types of infrastructure, including private and public clouds, virtual machines, and bare metal servers.
Being one of the fastest growing open source software in history, Kubernetes shows promising prospects for the project’s future. In this section, we will go over the main benefits of K8s in more detail. So, why use Kubernetes?
The container nature of the Kubernetes infrastructure allows you to easily and effortlessly scale up and down, especially compared to virtual machines. Even if your application comprises multiple services, tools like K8s APIs offer simple and straightforward scalability and automation.
Kubernetes offers a declarative state of the environment that allows for easier and smoother deployments. Using DevOps practices and guidelines, you can roll out quick deployments based on the description of the desired state of the application.
Another enticing benefit of the K8s platform is monetary savings that derive from automated processes and efficient workflow. For example, the system automatically fits containers into nodes to ensure the best possible resource use. The efficiency of the platform eliminates redundant tasks and processes as well as allows developers to work with fewer Kubernetes clusters and reduce their cloud bills.
Kubernetes facilitates easier adoption of the DevOps practices that accelerate development, testing and deployment processes. The platform allows developers to start testing sooner which could help you avoid devastating mistakes later on. Additionally, the microservice nature of K8s promotes a small team structure that helps developers focus on smaller tasks like single features. If you want to learn more about how to make DevOps work for your enterprise, read this article.
Unlike virtual machines, containers only store elements that are absolutely necessary for an application to run (code, dependencies, etc.) as well as can use the operating system of the host. Running two apps on virtual machines would require two copies of the operating system while two apps can be enclosed in a single container and run on one version of the host operating system. In addition to this, Kubernetes works with any type of container runtime which can save you from the highly undesired vendor lock-in.
Kubernetes offers automation across the platform, including scheduled deployment and automatic scaling. These features help teams scale up or down according to the demand trend and preserve the quality of their online services. Another helpful function of the platform is the rollback feature that automatically goes to the previous version whenever the current one fails to perform.
Kubernetes delivers reliable and stable services in a cloud environment by automatically balancing and scaling clusters to meet the demand. Whenever a single node goes down, the system redistributes the workload to another cluster without jeopardizing the app’s performance. The platform also continuously carries out health checks and immediately reschedules or restarts faulty containers. As a result, your development team can launch updates at any time without downtime.
The system is also a great start for companies that do not operate in the cloud but are planning on cloud migration in the foreseeable future. Moving to the cloud can help you avoid management overhead as well as allow you to gain more visibility across the services, enhance data security, and more. Containerization will simplify the transition due to the already packaged application components that can be easily moved to the cloud in manageable units.
The largest benefit of open-source technology is continuous innovation and overwhelming community support and contribution. With Kubernetes, you will not be stuck with a legacy system that no longer is updated and improved upon. The platform has also received massive support from world-leading organizations like IBM, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.
Kubernetes adoption can be quite challenging for inexperienced teams. In this part, we’ll discuss expert tips that will make your transition smoother.
Microservices-based or modular architecture refers to splitting your system into coupled services with separate databases and computing resources as opposed to a monolithic application that stores its business logic and data in a single codebase. First, identify the business functions of the existing architecture and group them based on related contexts. Later, remove the dependencies to separate the functions into modules.
It is recommended to gradually and incrementally containerize your applications and assign an in-house or external team to gain a deep understanding of the platform’s ins and outs. You can begin the process with smaller and simpler applications with zero to little interdependencies and work your way up. Afterward, make sure the applications are successfully deployed by using the canary deployment method to guarantee limited user access. Later, you can weaken the limit and allow more users into the app to verify its performance.
Being an open-source technology, Kubernetes offers myriads of additional tools that assist teams in monitoring, threat detecting, load balancing and more. Go through the library of available add-ons but stick to the most popular ones. First of all, popular tools are more likely to be supported and updated in the future. Secondly, you’ll take advantage of the social proof and end up with a well-functioning extension.
Most companies that use Kubernetes state they utilize a multicloud approach. At the same time, many of them fail to develop a coherent long-term strategy to maintain multicloud deployment. The lack of strategy will inevitably lead to a cluttered assortment of services, undetected vulnerabilities, and low transparency. You can begin by creating universal rules for privacy and encryption and developing KPIs to evaluate the cloud services.
The early implementation of DevOps guidelines, including the Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline, will help you build and deploy applications faster and with fewer bugs. Also, you should start preparing your application file system for the future adoption of Kubernetes by creating a version control to store configuration files for an easy rollback plan.
The adoption of DevOps also implies generating company-level standards to ensure smooth and fruitful collaboration between the development and operations teams. The consolidated documentation with clear guidelines will guarantee the proper execution of the strategy across teams, including new members.
Even though Kubernetes is known as a safe platform, each company needs to implement security guidelines and practices. Procure additional tools that prevent malicious attacks and other vulnerabilities exploitations, install secure authorization and intrusion detection tools, and look into DevSecOps—a set of security protocols and guidelines that are integrated into the development cycle, as opposed to a separate stage of the process. For example, you can implement role-based access to sensitive data to ensure the utmost safety of your information.
There are some standard security practices that have been successfully implemented across companies for years. As an example, many teams deal with misconfigurations which can be prevented by correctly setting up controls, encryptions and secrets management. You should also encourage your staff to choose a complex password, lock the screen when leaving the work desk and use a key vault for keys. Finally, keep up with new releases and updates and take advantage of community contributions.
Before jumping into Kubernetes integration, let’s explore whether or not your company and product would benefit from this technology.
To orchestrate containers in a containerized application: this allows you to isolate your applications into a single container with all the data required to run on any system. Since Kubernetes automates and schedules deployments, you will not end up with hundreds of unused containers in the production environment.
To utilize microservice-based architecture: Kubernetes is the ideal partner for microservice-based applications due to the range of tools to manage containers as well as communication between them.
To take advantage of multi-cloud deployment: when running applications across cloud service systems, you need to carry out modifications to ensure high performance. Kubernetes solves this issue and allows developers to create clusters in any cloud environment. As a result, you can create a single application version that would work across the cloud systems.
To optimize the development lifecycle: the automation that the platform delivers facilitates faster deployments and fewer mistakes upon release. The self-healing and rollback features guarantee the availability of the application even when something goes wrong. At the same time, options like canary deployment and blue-green testing allow teams to test their products in the near-production environment.
To build small projects: companies that are creating a small monolithic application or rolling out a minimum viable product will not benefit from Kubernetes adoption. Such uncomplicated projects can be performed using a virtual machine.
To create systems that rely on latency: such systems require direct access to memory, CPU, and storage, which is easier to deliver using physical infrastructures.
To gain observability: Kubernetes teams agree that containerized environments are not optimal for quick access to app performance or ROI data. However, there are open source tools available to circumvent this technicality such as health review or threat detection tools.
Lack of expertise: if your team lacks Kubernetes knowledge, the change will be increasingly difficult. This includes skills required to rebuild the architecture and containerize applications, as well as DevOps acumen.
However, a lack of expertise should not deter you from adopting this multifaceted system. Kubernetes implementation and maintenance can be delegated to an external team of professionals. NIX United is a trustworthy IT partner with years of experience and thousands of seasoned engineers who will be happy to assist you. Reach out to our team to discuss your project and get on board the Kubernetes train.
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