A part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), Kubernetes makes handling and working with containers on a web-scale seamless, and it’s also not stringent about the format or form of the container. It has a command line interface and an API of its own, which leads to a much lower operational overhead.
If your organization is planning to implement Kubernetes, there are a lot of things that you need to consider before it. But before that, let’s discuss why a number of organizations around the world are moving towards containership.
Why organizations are moving towards containerization
In the last 3-4 years, application deployment has gone from virtual machines based cloud platforms to containers. One of the main reasons for the shift was the ease that Docker brought with it, allowing developers to code and move around containers, but there are several other reasons for the increase in the trend:
- Encapsulation: Prior to Docker, handling containers was difficult, to say the least. But now, with better user experience, it’s easier to handle containers and package their applications.
- Modular: With the advent of cloud computing, many organizations have started opting for microservices architecture over the already existing monolith core. Since containers are modular, they easily fit into the microservices architecture, and they can be moved around as well.
- Portability: With containers being portable, developers can build an app and run it on almost any platform without any major modifications to the code.
If your organization too is planning to implement Kubernetes, then before you do that, there are a number of things that you need to consider, including:
1. calculating total associated costs and benefits
First and foremost, organizations need to understand that Kubernetes is not the solution to every IT problem that they may be facing. It’s a different and more effective way of handling and deploying applications. That is why an organization first needs to assess how implementing containers and Kubernetes will impact their day-to-day processes and if it will be able to add business value to the organization.
Kubernetes will need organizations to bring about architectural and technology changes. Before implementing Kubernetes, you will need to implement containership first. Now, transitioning to containership can lead to possible disruptions, and that is why, organizations need to plan out everything right from the transition phase to mitigating disruptions, in case they do occur.
Since Kubernetes can be deployed with on-premises infrastructure or across multiple cloud providers, the deployment strategy should focus on the organization’s needs instead of focusing on the needs of the infrastructure.
2. Whether there is right talent to implement Kubernetes
When organizations are about to implement Kubernetes, they need a team that doesn’t just understand the new technology but has the ability to embrace the changes that will follow. That is why, even before discussing the implementation and deployment strategy, companies should either bring in new talent that has experience with Kubernetes or retrain their existing team to handle the coming changes.
If you already have a DevOps team in place, then they will have to communicate and share responsibility on a daily basis to implement Kubernetes and handle distributed systems orchestration. While it may not be a collaboration platform, containership does require the development and operations team to work together.
The technical team should also be sufficiently trained to work with containers in a distributed environment.
3. If all the applications are ready for containerization
Since containers are different from virtual machines, organizations need to set up a review to make sure if their applications are ready for containership. It’s best to first adopt containers in different non-productive environments like development, testing, and staging, before implementing them.
4. Migrating legacy systems
Kubernetes supports legacy applications seamlessly. Though, it’s also important to consider the costs that might be associated with migration. For instance, if you will be migrating a mission-critical application, it important to consider potential disruptions .
It’s safe to say that the migration of legacy systems will be challenging and that is why it’s best to finalize on the migration approach in advance. One of the most common approaches is to deploy the API gateway and then convert the monolith into pods over a long time. Though it’s just one of the useful approaches, it may necessarily not be the right approach for you.
5. Choosing between a community distribution or commercial version
Available both as an open source and commercial offering, Kubernetes has a lot of options for every type of requirement. The right choice will, of course, depend on your implementation plan and the skillset of your technical team.
The open source version is present on GitHub, or if you want to opt for a commercial version, then you can pick any of the commercial orchestrators from vendors like Canonical and CoreOS.
6. Tools to monitor Kubernetes
By monitoring the infrastructure, you are able to make sure the resources required by the applications like CPU, network, and storage are always available and are healthy as well. By investing in a monitoring mechanism and strategy, you will be able to track the functioning of workloads and nodes. There are many commercial as well as open source monitoring tools that integrate well with Kubernetes, which you can consider.
Implementing Kubernetes may seem like a rocky road, but if you have already considered all the points above and you have an implementation plan in place, then it will be a smooth transition leading to more business benefits and stable development.