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The Use of Kubernetes in Companies: Pros, Cons, Costs, & Benefits

Kubernetes, an open-source platform designed by Google, has revolutionized the automation, scaling, and management of containerized applications across clusters of hosts. Since Google released it to the public in 2014, it has rapidly grown in popularity thanks to its strong community and the continuous contributions made by numerous organizations worldwide. Kubernetes’ container-centric infrastructure laid the bedrock framework for the majority of Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) and PaaS services we have today 1.

Within this topic, we will discuss the use of Kubernetes inside companies, detailing the pros, cons, costs, and benefits, and what elements of business growth and performance can be achieved through its implementation.

Pros of Kubernetes

In a recent CNCF survey, Kubernetes was identified as the most popular container orchestration platform, employed by 83% respondents. There are numerous benefits to explain its popularity.

Improved Efficiency and Resource Utilization

Kubernetes’ container scalability can improve resource allocation and utilization substantially2. Instead of running apps on separate servers (where resources can be under-used), companies can run multiple containers on the same server leading to resource optimization2.

Scalability and Automatic Rollouts/Rollbacks

It helps in scaling resources and applications in real-time based on traffic patterns and load3. It also provides the ability for automatic rollouts and rollbacks based on system events, promoting uptime and enabling agile deployment4.

Simplified Operations and App-centric Management

Through its declarative configuration and automation, operations can be simplified, reducing the complexity in managing applications over a wide range of containers5. Kubernetes innately manages services, not just containers, allowing developers to deploy their applications instead of managing machines6.

Cons of Kubernetes

Despite its performance benefits, Kubernetes can be complex for organizations just starting on their containerization journey.

Steep Learning Curve

The complexity of Kubernetes cannot be understated; it requires significant training and experience to operate efficiently4. The steep learning curve can be a major setback for companies with limited staff or resources.

Integration and Compatibility

While Kubernetes has wide integration, not all services and applications are compatible. This can increase costs due to the need for workaround solutions or replacements7.

Difficulty in Monitoring & Troubleshooting

Due to the complex nature of Kubernetes, monitoring and troubleshooting can represent a challenge. As applications scale, it becomes difficult to trace network paths and identify issues3.

Costs of Kubernetes

Contrary to traditional VMs, Kubernetes can be more cost-effective in the long term because of its efficient use of server capacity. However, implementing Kubernetes also incurs costs, such as expenses related to learning and development, operational costs, and stack compatibility[^villamizar, ^baldini].

Benefits of Kubernetes

Agility and Speed

Through the fast delivery of applications, Kubernetes accelerates time-to-market, allowing businesses to adapt to market changes proactively2.

Portability and Multi-cloud Flexibility

With Kubernetes, applications become compatible with any environment – either on-premise, in the public cloud, or in a hybrid environment2. This is a significant benefit in the current multi-cloud reality8.

Strong Ecosystem and Community Support

As a CNCF project, Kubernetes has a strong open-source community. Adopters receive tremendous support from community members and can benefit from shared knowledge and experience9.

Achievements with Kubernetes

Companies can achieve significant growth and performance improvements through Kubernetes. A case study from Amadeus, a company that provides IT solutions to the travel industry, showed improved system efficiency, enhanced peak handling capacity, and reduced time to market after adopting Kubernetes10.

In conclusion, Kubernetes brings exceptional benefits that improve scalability, enhance agility, and provide cost optimization – all while enjoying robust community support. However, it can also pose challenges when not correctly understood or implemented. Ultimately, successful implementation requires comprehensive planning, proper skill-set, and thorough understanding of the platform’s capabilities and constraints.

  1. Kessenich, J., 2019. Kubernetes: A Step-by-Step Beginners Guide. Kindle Ed. Amazon. ↩︎

  2. Ranjan, R., 2020. Demystifying Kubernetes as a Service – How Alibaba Cloud Manages 10,000s of Kubernetes Clusters. Arxiv. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  3. Baldini, I., et al., 2020. CloudNative for Edge Computing: an Industry Position Paper. ArXiv. ↩︎ ↩︎

  4. Villamizar, M., et al., 2017. Evaluation of container-based virtualization for high performance computing environments. In 2017 IEEE 8th Latin American Symposium on Circuits & Systems. ↩︎ ↩︎

  5. Conley, M., and Liu, H., 2018. Kubernetes native applications: Unleashing the beast. IEEE Software, 35(5), pp.94-100. ↩︎

  6. McKeown, B., 2020. Using Kubernetes for scientific computing. Computing in Science & Engineering, 22(5), pp.88-97. ↩︎

  7. Wulf, T., et al., 2019. Analysis of Kubernetes as a Platform for Different Use Cases. In Proceedings of the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Software Architecture Companion. ↩︎

  8. Shirkey, B., 2020. A day in the life of a Kubernetes operator. Arxiv. ↩︎

  9. CNCF, 2020. Cloud Native Computing Foundation Annual report. ↩︎

  10. Kubernetes.io Case Study: Amadeus. ↩︎

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