A Primer on the Kubernetes Landscape

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Modern microservices applications span multiple containers, and
sometimes a single app may use thousands of containers. When operating
at this scale, you need a container orchestration tool to manage all of
those containers. Managing them by hand is simply not feasible. This is
where Kubernetes comes in. Kubernetes manages Docker containers that are
used to package applications at scale. Since its launch in 2014,
Kubernetes has enjoyed widespread adoption within the container
ecosystem. It is fast becoming the de facto tool for orchestrating
containers at scale. What are the reasons for the meteoric rise of
Kubernetes, and what are the factors that will shape its future? Let’s
take a look by examining the major milestones in Kubernetes’ history.

Milestone 1: Kubernetes 1.0 Released

V1.0 of Kubernetes was released in 2015. (The 2014 releases of
Kubernetes were beta versions.) V1.0 brought many key features like DNS,
load balancing, scaling, and application-level health checking.
Importantly, it allowed you to group your container clusters into pods
for better management. This is one feature that separates Kubernetes
from the rest of the pack. The most prominent concern around Kubernetes
back then was whether Kubernetes was production-ready. Docker itself was
barely a year old, and the container ecosystem was highly nascent.
Google has emphasized that prominent organizations like Box and Ebay use
Kubernetes in production, and since then, many organizations have come
out flaunting their use of the tool in their production environments.
Another concern has been Kubernetes’ steep learning curve. Designed at
Google before the advent of Docker, it doesn’t follow the Docker CLI,
API, Docker Compose, or YAML definitions. You need to manage containers
using Kubernetes’ opinionated methods. However, many organizations find
this worth the effort, considering the huge upside of having the most
capable and open container orchestrator available today, and being able
to confidently scale to thousands of containers.

Milestone 2: Google hands Kubernetes over to the CNCF

Kubernetes
eBook
Quickly get started with Rancher and Kubernetes following the
step-by-step instructions in the latest release of the Kubernetes
eBook Google’s open approach has been one of the key drivers
for Kubernetes’ industry-wide adoption. While Kubernetes was developed
at Google, once open-sourced, Google went all-out to integrate
Kubernetes with every possible cloud vendor and containerization
service— OpenStack, Azure, Mesosphere, and more. Back in March 2016,
Google gave complete control of Kubernetes over to the Cloud Native
Computing Foundation (CNCF). Kubernetes was the first project to be
accepted into the foundation. This is a big stamp of approval, showing
how production-ready Kubernetes is. By making it part of the CNCF,
Google has completely handed Kubernetes over to the container ecosystem
to decide its future. This is further testament to Google’s neutral
intentions when open-sourcing Kubernetes.

Milestone 3: Kubernetes Incubator seeds product development

Kubernetes
Incubator

is a GitHub repository that hosts promising new Kubernetes projects. Its
goal is to bring consistency, and set standards to the efforts of
developers trying to extend and innovate around Kubernetes. In Feb 2016,
Helm became the first project to
graduate from the Incubator. It is a package manager that packages
applications as Kubernetes charts. Helm, along with
Dashboard, has been
integrated with Rancher as of v1.4.
Other interesting Kubernetes Incubator projects include
Kompose, which moves
Docker Compose files over to Kubernetes, and
kube-aws, a tool to
manage Kubernetes clusters on AWS. These projects are bridging the gap
between Kubernetes and the rest of the container ecosystem. As
Kubernetes gains mainstream adoption, these tools will grow in
importance, and some may even become part of the main Kubernetes
platform.

Kubernetes’ future: Powering niche platform solutions

Kubernetes is evolving at a rapid pace. It recently reached GA on Azure
Container Service. To mark the occasion, Kubernetes co-founder Brendan
Burns wrote a thought-provoking piece on how Kubernetes will change the
PaaS
landscape
.
He sees industry-specific PaaS platforms emerging because of how easy
Kubernetes makes building a PaaS system on top of container
infrastructure. Beyond PaaS, there are even FaaS (function as a service)
platforms like Fission and
funktion being built with
Kubernetes. This way, Kubernetes is not just powering applications, but
enabling applications which can help create other powerful applications.
Kubernetes is still in its early days. As it matures, it will give rise
to a growing ecosystem of managed Kubernetes service providers. This is
critical to the adoption of Kubernetes in enterprises. While Kubernetes
has shown explosive growth in the first three years of its existence,
despite the lack of tooling and consensus around it, the next three
years and more will be marked by a maturing of both the tool itself, and
the ecosystem that supports it. Another way Kubernetes helps the
container ecosystem evolve faster is through the healthy competition it
gives Docker Swarm. Despite Docker’s decision to bake Swarm into the
Docker platform by default, the move has not slowed down Kubernetes’
growth. In fact, it’s becoming even more clear now that the industry is
rallying around Kubernetes as it prefers a more open and highly scalable
option to Docker’s Swarm. Kubernetes is one of the most active projects
on Github, and it enjoys strong support from every corner of the
industry. The strong consensus will see it become the leading container
orchestrator in 2017 and beyond. *Twain began his career at Google,
where, among other things, he was involved in technical support for the
AdWords team. His work involved reviewing stack traces, resolving issues
affecting both customers and the Support team, and handling escalations.
Later, he built branded social media applications and automation scripts
to help startups better manage their marketing operations. Today, as a
technology journalist, he helps IT magazines and startups change the way
teams build and ship applications. *

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