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Don’t Use Kubernetes Until You’ve Asked This Question

Posted on July 23, 2019 by Christophe LimpalairChristophe Limpalair

 

Kubernetes technology has skyrocketed in popularity for the last few years. More and more organizations are using it to power their infrastructure, and as a result, there’s an influx of individuals learning how to use the technology in order to get a new job, upskill for an existing job, or simply to stay up-to-date with the latest tech.

But why are organizations using this tech? Well, as more organizations have turned to containers in order to run their applications, they’re facing an issue: how do they manage them? Many are using Kubernetes to solve this problem. But is it the right solution?
Deciding to use Kubernetes should not be a choice based on popularity, because that’s not always going to be the best choice for your organization. In fact, it might cause more issues than it solves. 
What if you discovered that Kubernetes would actually slow down your organization? If you’re not careful, that’s exactly what could happen. So before you jump on the popularity train, ask yourself this question:

Is running Kubernetes really the best use of your engineer’s time? Or should they be focused on building new functionality, and Kubernetes would actually get in the way?

To answer this question, let’s dive deeper.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is an open-source platform that helps manage containers. This is why you oftentimes hear about Kubernetes and container orchestration in the same sentence. It groups containers that make up an application for easier deployment, management, and scalability.

We sat down with Brendan Burns, co-founder of Kubernetes. If you’re interested in hearing more about how Kubernetes (K8s) was started, the challenges they faced building it, and what the future holds for containers and Virtual Machines, you need this podcast.

When a certain technology becomes mainstream, people naturally want to jump on the bandwagon, for fear of being left behind. This is good and bad. It can be bad if you end up jumping on board when you don’t need it. It can be good because it props up the technology’s ecosystem and can make it even better.

So how can you know if Kubernetes is what you need?

Lee Eason (Executive Director in Software Development at IHS Markit, Co-founder of Tekata.io) shares his thoughts:

“It’s important for companies to focus on doing work that makes them more competitive.  Any time you are taking on highly complex, high overhead technologies like Kubernetes you need to carefully think about how that work will make you more competitive and whether there are ways to accomplish those goals with less overhead and risk.  The vast majority of the time you are better off trading some of the features and capabilities for less risk and easier management by using tools such as ECS or EKS. I see too many organizations jumping on the K8s bandwagon only to regret it.“ – Lee Eason (https://www.linkedin.com/in/leejeason)

Focus on what makes you more competitive, not what adds distractions to your operations and reduces your ability to compete.
On the flip-side of the equation, Kubernetes could be the perfect tool for the job and maybe you do need the additional features, capabilities, and control:

“We run production Kubernetes workloads for our customers. Kubernetes makes a lot of sense for websites, queue workers, and APIs because they are stateless, scale horizontally, and may require high availability. Using Kubernetes allows our customers to scale quickly to meet demand, deploy continuously with high availability, right-size infrastructure for cost savings, and improve velocity with high fidelity development environments.” – Kendall Miller, COO at ReactiveOps — Kubernetes enablement for a cloud native world.

So before jumping straight into using Kubernetes, research alternatives that are available like these:

Explore Alternatives to Kubernetes

  • OpenShift
  • Docker Swarm
  • ECS
  • SaltStack
  • etc…
Each of these will have different pros and cons which can help you make a better technical and business decision.
For example, with Amazon ECS, you could be trading higher costs for less time spent by your engineers setting up Kubernetes and more time building new features. Is that worth it? Ultimately, that’s up to your business needs, but you can’t know that unless you explore options.

Learn How to Use Kubernetes and Decide if it’s The Right Choice

If you do decide that Kubernetes is the way to go, or if you’re still deciding which technology will be best for you, the fastest way for you or your team to get it up and running in your environments is to learn Kubernetes by doing. Here’s an example learning path that will take you from zero Kubernetes knowledge to running it in production with a couple of certifications under your belt:
In contrast, if you’re looking for training for alternatives, here are some options:
Going through this training can help you understand the differences and overlap so that you make the best decision. This critical choice could save you thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars and productivity over the next few years. If you’re looking to read even more about Kubernetes, we celebrated its recent 5-year birthday with more recommended training! 

What are your thoughts on using Kubernetes versus an alternative? Drop a comment below!

1 Comments

Image of John Turner
John Turner
4 months ago

Thank you for providing a different perspective. I’m actively exploring new opportunities and all the feedback I am getting is “must know Kubernetes” or “must be Kubernetes expert”. There is so much new tech and innovation happening, it is helpful to have info that can support prioritizing all of the learning options.

Image of Christophe Limpalair
Christophe Limpalair
3 months ago

We’ve definitely seen a surge in Kubernetes popularity over the past couple of years, so that isn’t too surprising! It’s a skill set that is in hot demand right now.

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