Do We Really Need Kubernetes and Containers?
Posted December 13, 2021
Written by Terry May, Xpanxion Technical Writer
Image Source: www.kubernetes.io
Ask any good software developers this question and they’ll respond with a resounding “Yes, we do, like yesterday!” Here’s why.
A little history first...
In the early years of software development, organizations ran apps on physical servers. They all ran together and shared the same resources and security permissions, which resulted in resource allocation issues and obvious security problems. For example, if multiple apps run on a physical server, there can be times when one app would consume most of the resources, and the other apps would underperform, the old noisy neighbor problem. The only solution was to run each app on a different physical server. This does not scale, nor is it economical for a business to maintain many physical servers.
So, then the development world turned to virtualization as a solution to maximize computer resources. Virtualization creates a simulated computing environment that is abstracted from the physical layer. Put simply, it creates computer-generated computers known as virtual machines (VMs). VMs can run on a single physical server, while the apps remain isolated. They offer better scalability...an app can be easily added or updated without affecting the others.
VMs are more scalable compared to running separate actual machines, but they have a lot of system resources overhead. Each VM host runs a full copy, and a virtual copy, of an OS and all of the components the VM needs to operate. So, it doesn't take long for a VM to quickly cycle through a lot of CPU and RAM.
For this reason, VMs are generally reserved for large, resource-hungry “monolithic” apps. You still have significant overhead which makes it impossible for VMs to keep pace with today’s growing appetite for more apps and the need for rapid development lifecycles. This led to the introduction of containers as an alternative or companion to virtualization.
Enter the era of containers
Though the concept of containerization is not new, its acceptance rose rapidly when the open-source Docker Engine was introduced in 2013. Docker’s easy developer tools and universal packaging quickly became the industry standard for containers.
Similar to a VM, a container thinks that it has its own CPU, kernel, file system, process space, and memory, but in reality only one OS is running, the host’s OS. Containers are abstracted from the underlying infrastructure, they are lightweight and portable across any combination of on-premise, cloud, operating system, or device.
The power to ‘write once and run anywhere’ makes containers much faster and more scalable than VMs. As a result, containers have sharply risen in popularity among enterprises over the last few years. Gartner predicts that “By 2023, more than 70% of global organizations will be running more than two containerized applications in production, up from less than 20% in 2019.”
Containers are here to stay because their benefits are powerful and irresistible to businesses. That’s because they’re capable of transforming the software development world into the future.
Benefits galore with containers
The benefits of containers reach far beyond scalability and portability. They also include:
- Agility and Speed: Agile processes and DevOps tools can be used to create the app container at the time of build/release rather than deployment...leading to rapid development and improved performance.
- Reliability and Predictability: You have a guarantee of getting same result with every deployment enabling reliable, frequent, and predictable container builds, performance, and deployments with fast and efficient rollbacks.
- Efficiency: Software in container environments share the same OS kernel as the host, and the application layers within a container can be dispersed across containers. So, a container inherently has a smaller overhead than a VM and needs less start-up time.
- Security: The isolation of apps as containers thwarts the intrusion of malicious code from affecting other containers or the host. Also, security permissions can be set to automatically block components or nonessential communication resources.
- Consistency: The apps run the same across development, testing, and production...and across different devices, OSs, and infrastructures.
For these reasons and many more, containers have radically changed how businesses test, release, and use applications.
So, how does Kubernetes fit into the picture?
Considering this scale, businesses need a systematic way to handle these containers. Enter Kubernetes—a system for managing container-based apps.
Released by Google in 2014, Kubernetes is a ‘container orchestrator.’ It’s a tool that automates the management, scaling, deployment, networking, and availability of container applications.
Today, you can't find an application container that Kubernetes doesn't have its arms wrapped around. You see, they are made for each other, and together they're unstoppable in their ability to reshape the development world...but with this comes new challenges and the need for a completely new development ecosystem.
Is your business ready for the era of containers and Kubernetes? At Xpanxion, we help organizations pave a clear path to the future development world by modernizing infrastructures and implementing agile and DevOps best practices, and more. Take a look at our success stories to read how we can build the roadmap for your business into the software development future.
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