Do we really need Kubernetes and containers?


Do we really need Kubernetes and containers?

Andy Morin, Chief Solution Architect – UST Xpanxion

Kubernetes and containers were made for each other, and they're unstoppable in their ability to reshape the software development world.

Andy Morin

Andy Morin, Chief Solution Architect – UST Xpanxion

Ask any good software developers this question, and they’ll respond with a resounding “Yes, yes, we do, like yesterday!” Here’s why.

A little history on the wild, wild west of software development

In the early years of software development, organizations ran applications on physical servers. They all ran together and shared the same resources and security permissions, which resulted in serious resource allocation issues and obvious security problems. For example, if multiple applications were running on a physical server, there could be times when one application would consume most of the resources, causing other applications to underperform. At the time, the only workaround was to run each application on a different dedicated physical server. Yet, this approach does not scale, nor does it make any economic sense for a typical business to maintain many physical servers that run just one application.

In pursuit of a better answer that maximizes computer resources and offers scalability, the development world turned to network virtualization. Network virtualization creates a simulated computing environment abstracted from the physical layer to make computer-generated computers known as virtual machines (VMs). VMs can run on a single physical server. While at the same time, the applications remain isolated, which offers better scalability and lets developers easily add, maintain, and update applications without affecting other applications or the network.

Although VMs are more scalable, easier to operate and maintain, and much more resource-conscious than running multiple separate machines, they require a large amount of system overhead. Each VM host machine runs two copies of the operating system (a hard copy and a virtual copy) and all the components required to operate the VM. Hence, it doesn't take long for a VM to quickly cycle through many CPU (processing) and RAM (memory/storage) resources. Consequently, organizations usually reserve VMs for large, business-critical, resource-hungry applications.

The system overhead consumption issue with VMs created a significant barrier to entry for digital businesses that needed to keep pace with the rising customer demand for more and better applications.

The ability to churn out high-quality applications at unprecedented speed, consistency, and precision has never been more critical. Organizations need to hit this mark with pinpoint accuracy–all while remaining on budget, on time, and without exhausting system, bandwidth, or staffing resources. In pursuit of a better solution, the software development world turned to containers as an alternative or companion to virtual machines.

What are containers?

Though the notion of containerization is not new, its acceptance rose rapidly after the open-source Docker Engine was introduced in 2013. Docker’s easy developer tools and universal packaging quickly became the industry standard for how containers are built and used.

Like a VM, a container thinks that it has its CPU, kernel, file system, process space, and memory, but in reality, only the host OS is running. Also, like VMs, containers are abstracted from the underlying infrastructure; but they are lightweight and portable across any combination or type of on-premise, cloud, OS, or device.

Since the application layers within a container can be dispersed across many containers as loosely coupled distributed, elastic microservices, a container inherently has a more negligible overhead than a VM and needs less start-up time. Also, unlike monolithic stacks that run on one big single-purpose machine, containerized applications are broken into smaller, independent pieces that can be deployed and managed dynamically.

The intrinsic ability for containers to enable “write once and run anywhere” makes them much faster and more scalable than VMs. For these advantages, containers have sharply risen in popularity over the last few years among businesses spanning industries and geographies. Gartner predicts , “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.”

The benefits of containers

The benefits of containers are powerful, irresistible and capable of transforming the software development world into the future. Reaching far beyond scalability, efficiency, and portability, they include:

Containers have radically changed how businesses build, test, release, and maintain applications. But with schemes as scalable as containers, organizations need a systematic way to manage and operate them.

Enter Kubernetes: the orchestrator of containers

Kubernetes was released by Google in 2014 as a “container orchestrator” to address the issue of managing highly scalable containerized applications. Specifically, Kubernetes is an open-source tool for managing workloads and services that facilitate the automatic configuration, deployment, scaling, and network availability of containerized applications.

Today, you can't find a containerized application that Kubernetes doesn't have its arms wrapped around. You see, Kubernetes and containers were made for each other, and they're unstoppable in their ability to reshape the software development world. But with this potential treasure of benefits comes new challenges: the requirement for more business agility, the adoption of new business models (i.e., merging the functions of operational technology with IT), and migrating from legacy on-premise systems to modern multi-cloud distributed architectures).

Is your business ready to harness the power of Kubernetes and containers? At UST Xpanxion, we help organizations transform with modern agile application development methods, infrastructure cloud migrations, and automated continuous application testing so you can deliver on the future of software development, delight your customers, gain business value, and remain fiercely competitive.

Contact our product engineering experts to learn more about how we can future-proof your business for the era of containers and Kubernetes.