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Breaking IT Down: What Is Kubernetes?

Employers are hot on the trail of skilled tech professionals who can work with Kubernetes. Unless you've been heavily involved in working with containers, however, that may not mean very much to you.

What is Kubernetes?Kubernetes is an open source tool used for automating and managing container operations. Ever since its launch as an open source platform in 2014, Kubernetes has grown to become the preferred choice for container orchestration. It has the support of tech majors and is the most popular open source project after Linux among the open source community of developers.


Container technology enables packaging of an application together with all its dependencies, such as OS, SSL libraries, and configuration files, into a single container. This technology is not new; it has been a part of Linux operations for years.


Developers have been quick to adopt container technology because it enables migration of software with all its dependencies as a single unit to a test server, or a cloud server, or a physical machine at a corporate data center, thereby doing away with compatibility issues. Container software also makes it possible to break a program into components known as micro-services.


Fragmentation into micro-services enables multiple teams to work on the components separately, so long as interoperability between different containers is maintained. This speeds up the development process. Also, container technology enables you to control containers down to the finest detail.


Origin story


Kubernetes was initially conceptualized and developed by engineers Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda at Google years ago, at a time when Google was already using Linux container technology to deploy applications. In the early days, Google used their in-house platform, Borg, to manage container orchestration. Borg managed container scheduling; it had the capacity to recognize and determine when to launch a container and when to shut it down.


McLuckie and Beda wanted to develop a more advanced orchestration layer for managing applications in a production environment. Kubernetes was born out of this desire to create a tool that would enable developers to create distributed applications and companies to manage workloads in a production environment.


Today, Kubernetes is the most widely used container orchestration platform. It offers the ease of PaaS, as well as the flexibility of IaaS, while overcoming some of the shortcomings of both.


Google open-sourced Kubernetes in June 2014. In 2015, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) was formed as an organization for cloud native computing and a custodian of Kubernetes. At the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2019 Europe conference, a survey conducted by Platform9 found that 47 percent of the 500 attendees already had some workloads running on Kubernetes in a production environment.


What you can do with Kubernetes


Kubernetes enables orchestration of production workloads. In a production environment, applications are packaged in multiple containers that need to be deployed on several hosts. Security is implemented across multiple layers. The more containers you have, the more complex managing containers becomes.


Using Kubernetes you can automate many of the manual processes needed to deploy and scale containers. Multiple hosts spanning public, private, and hybrid clouds can be grouped into clusters. By enabling efficient management of clusters of containers, Kubernetes frees you from having to manage individual containers separately. Kubernetes provides a platform for running and scaling large clusters of cloud-native containerized applications.


Once you’ve implemented a container-centric production environment using Kubernetes, you can orchestrate computing, storage, and networking operations at the container level across several hosts. Since Kubernetes is open source, it enables portability across different cloud infrastructure service providers.


How it is used


Use of containers ranges from basic to advanced. At the primary level, containers are faster and resource-saving versions of VMs. The complexity arises when you need to scale and run multiple applications in a production environment. This requires concurrent functioning of many co-located containers. Complexity increases as containers proliferate.