How Kubernetes Is Orchestrating a Transformation in Container Management

by Nortal cloud team, September 9, 2019

For software developers, deploying containers can be relatively routine. Keeping track of those containers and operating them at scale? That’s another story.

Container orchestration — Kubernetes in particular — has become a ubiquitous tool for developers. Kubernetes represents an interface layer and a common delivery platform in which both operations and developers can collaborate to increase reliability of applications, while utilizing each of their complementary expertise. It was first developed by Google Cloud and later donated to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation as an open-source platform designed to give development teams of all sizes control and flexibility over software deployed in a data center.

The History of Kubernetes

Let’s take a look at software development history. Early on, organizations ran applications on physical servers with no way to define resource boundaries for applications, causing resource allocation issues and halting scalability. Then came virtualization. Virtualization allowed applications to be isolated between virtual machines (VMs) but without being able to freely access each other. Scalability had increased due to the ability to more rapidly create VMs. Now, to containerization. Containers are like VMs but with relaxed isolation properties that share the operating system (OS) kernel among applications. Because containers are decoupled from the underlying infrastructure, they become portable across clouds and on-prem solutions.

Containers allow software to be deployed in a whole new way, including as microservices, where a monolithic application is broken down into smaller parts and managed individually. Kubernetes automates the deployment and lifecycle, while scaling and managing these smaller applications.

Kubernetes was developed thanks to the rise of Docker, another developer tool that makes the development and delivery of containers super easy to use.

Docker provides a way for developers to package an application and its dependencies such as a database or OS on a laptop. They can then deploy the application to a server unchanged. The challenge here is you could potentially have hundreds of these microservices for a single application. Once you multiply that across an organization, a “manager” is required to keep all pistons firing in that container.

How does Kubernetes pull all of this off?

Imagine Kubernetes as a network, and the application is on that network in a secure box. They are both inside this box talking to each other, with the developer deciding specifically what the conversation is about. They don’t have to worry about anything going on outside of that box. In fact, everything is totally isolated within the box, or container, with Kubernetes — and the developer is totally in control of the environment.

That’s the idea of container orchestration, and since developers are using containers to deploy everything, Kubernetes has become an essential tool to manage them. Kubernetes is not a container itself, the containers are the applications running within the Kubernetes system. It’s really all about managing multiple groups of containers simultaneously since there is no discovery mechanism built into Kubernetes. They provide a Domain Name System (DNS) convention that allow applications to find each other.

Kubernetes provides the containers with the central processor (CPU) and memory they require along with storage, almost like cloud in-a-box. And because Kubernetes allows developers to simulate a whole network of computers connected together, software can be easily and flexibly deployed into a data center environment. That’s because within Kubernetes, it has its own ecosystem.

Kubernetes also performs many other key processes such as:

  • Ease of automatic rollouts and rollbacks: Kubernetes can progressively roll out changes to applications or its configuration. If a problem occurs, Kubernetes will roll back the change automatically.
  • Storage orchestration: Kubernetes lets you mount the storage system of your choice, be it on-premise, hybrid or a public cloud provider. The orchestration is delegated from Kubernetes to extensions in the form of applications and plugins. Each cloud provider supplies the functionality to manage the lifecycle of the attached storage providing decoupled, redundant and disaster recovery capabilities.
  • Self-healing: The platform can automatically restart containers that fail during execution and kill those that don’t respond to user-defined health checks. Should a node, (the underlying VMs supporting Kubernetes) die, it replaces and reschedules those failed containers on other available nodes.
  • Secret and configuration management: You can deploy and update application configurations without having to rebuild your image or expose secrets in your stack configuration.

Developers looking for help with fully implementing a container-based infrastructure that automates many operational tasks will find Kubernetes as a must-have tool. Our help is best served around how you can utilize Kubernetes to orchestrate not only your applications, but the methods in which you develop software to become more efficient as an organization. Contact Nortal to get started on deployment today.

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