By now, you will have heard about Kubernetes and how it’s the industry standard for delivering containerized applications with microservices architecture.
But Kubernetes isn’t the only system on the market offering those capabilities. So how does it stand out from the competition? What is the advantage of Kubernetes over, say, Docker Swarm or Amazon ECS?
In this post, we look at 7 benefits of Kubernetes that will help you move ahead of your competitors and boost your bottom line.
The first of Kubernetes’ benefits is that it’s a secure environment thanks to immutability.
‘Immutability’ basically means that a Kubernetes instance is locked – it can’t be changed.
For example, let’s say you’ve deployed an application. Once it’s running, no one can go in and alter it. And even if they do alter it, you can kill that instance and start a brand new one with an image cleared by your cybersecurity team.
In a way, your application in Kubernetes is like a disposable tool. Once you’re done with the old version, you bring in the new one to replace it. If the old version fails, you simply destroy it and replace it with a new version.
Instead of giving step-by-step instructions to your compiler on how to perform a function on the app (how to get from A to Z), the declarative programming capabilities of Kubernetes lets you set “Z” as the goal. In effect, the system decides how to best get there instead.
This is in contrast to imperative configuration (the traditional system), where you have to define how to get to Z.
Source: Sudip Bhandari (via DevRant)
The risk with this process is that when it comes to managing giant projects, it would take a lot of time and developer resources to run changes. Yes, with declarative configuration you lose some control, but it makes tasks like debugging simpler and quicker.
Get Your Application Deployed on Kubernetes in Weeks
Kubernetes has self-healing features which allow it to recover crashed instances.
Let’s say your application has three instances, but one of those crashes due to an error or because the host PC ran out of memory.
When this occurs, Kubernetes’ self-healing will recreate another instance to restore your application to three instances.
In contrast, a non-self-healing system will require you to retain a full-time operations person to constantly monitor your application. If that person isn’t there to monitor the application, a crashed instances would go unnoticed.
The risk with that is that your application is relying on fewer instances than it needs, and as a result, the situation could escalate into a bigger problem across your user base.
With self-healing, you benefit from having an automated fail-safe that will recover the lost instance and, in turn, avoid extended downtime.
In addition, it also lets you allocate your developers for more important tasks (as Kubernetes will handle some of the monitoring).
Key among Kubernetes’ advantages is that you can break your application down into multiple services, each with its own executable (aka microservices architecture).
In other words, if your app does five things through one executable, you can have that as five small executables rather than a single large one. The one large executable is usually more difficult to maintain; for example, changing one part may put the rest out of sync.
An Example of Decoupling Services
With decoupling, you can implement, test and change each one of your app’s services independently of one another. If something goes wrong with one of those services, only that specific service goes down, which saves the rest of the app from crashing.
Think of Netflix. If Netflix’s recommendation engine goes down, you won’t be able to get recommended titles, but that wouldn’t stop you from watching Stranger Things.
If you look at it another way, you can also give each service its own test and deployment cycle. So instead of delaying the whole project just to get one specific service or function out, you can get release the app and then add the delayed function later.
For example, a bank might roll out a major refresh of their Android app, but because of compliance clearances and additional testing, will add mobile payments to the app later.
By decoupling each of your application’s services, you can use Kubernetes to allocate each the resources it needs to run properly. Returning to Netflix, if its recommendation engine got a spike in demand, Netflix would just need to run more of those instances.
In contrast, when those services were in one executable (aka monolithic architecture), you had to spin up the resources needed to run the whole thing just to handle demand from one service. This is a massive cost driver.
The benefit of being able to independently scale app services is that you save money on your infrastructure costs. For example, if the instance in need of more resources just needs more memory, you can just spend on that instead of a whole PC.
Kubernetes’ advantages shine through when you manage wide-scale deployments, especially at the scale of a banking app, mobile game, or a media streaming website.
You can manage resources, distribute hosting across different regions, and even use other technologies such as Istio – which lets you do canary testing (testing a feature with just a subset of your users).
One benefit of being open source is that you can access a deeper pool of developers, knowledge, and experiences with Kubernetes than with competing platforms. This fact makes it easier to troubleshoot, configure and manage Kubernetes.
Another of Kubernetes’ benefits is that you are only paying for the infrastructure it runs on. With Docker Swarm, for example, you must license the system in addition to paying for the computing power to support it.
Finally, the major cloud providers — such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft — each offer Kubernetes as part of their offerings. By leveraging these offerings you can quickly deploy microservices-based applications.
To an extent, you can also avoid vendor lock-in by being able to move running workloads from one cloud service provider to another.
(Source: Google Cloud)
However, though Kubernetes’ ease of use and deployment is better compared to other options, that doesn’t mean that it itself is simple.
This technology is complex and has a very steep learning curve, especially if you are trying to build capacity for it from the ground-up. This will add to your time to market, costs, and risks.
Moreover, open source can be a double-edged sword for those with on-premise hosting. It will require you to update all of your cloud infrastructures to the latest instances yourself.
Really, mastering Kubernetes is a reflection of mastering Docker and, in turn, having mastery of containerization, cloud platforms, and cloud infrastructure. With multiple layers of very complex technology at play, you would need to build a very experienced in-house team.
It’s a must in the long-run, but it takes time. You can get your project to hit the ground and start running right away by working with an external software development agency.
By working with Techolution, you can get a usable market-ready solution within a matter of weeks of starting the project, instead a full 6 months. Speak to us today to get started.