What is Kubernetes – It’s all Greek to me

AllCloud Blog:
Cloud Insights and Innovation

Fun fact, the name Kubernetes originates from Greek, meaning helmsman or pilot.

But what is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, facilitating both declarative configuration and automation. It has a vast, rapidly growing ecosystem.

Core Kubernetes concepts and definitions

  • Pod: An abstraction that represents a group of one or more application containers. 
  • Node: A worker machine in Kubernetes that may be a VM or a physical machine (e.g., a computer), depending upon the cluster. The node often includes Docker, the pods (“group of containers”), and the VM or computer that consists of the OS.
  • Cluster: The highest level of abstraction in Kubernetes contains all the nodes, pods, and a master – which maintains the desired state of your application by orchestrating the nodes.
  • Service: Defines a logical set of pods (e.g., “payment system”) and sets a policy about who can access them. ” A service allows Kubernetes to route traffic to your application regardless of where the pod is running.

Why are Companies using Kubernetes?

Containers are an excellent way to bundle and run your applications. In a production environment, you need to manage the containers that run the applications and ensure that there is no downtime. For example, if a container goes down, another container needs to start. 

Wouldn’t it be easier if a system handled this behavior?

Enter Kubernetes! Kubernetes provides you with a framework to run distributed systems resiliently. It takes care of scaling and failover for your application, provides deployment patterns, and more. For example, Kubernetes can easily manage a canary deployment for your system.

  • Run applications at scale – Kubernetes lets you define complex containerized applications and run them at scale across a cluster of servers.
  • Seamlessly move applications – Using Kubernetes, containerized applications can be smoothly moved from local development machines to production deployments on the cloud using the same operational tooling.
  • Run anywhere – Run highly available and scalable Kubernetes clusters on AWS while maintaining full compatibility with your Kubernetes deployments running on-premises.
  • Easily add new functionality – As an open-source project, adding new functionality to Kubernetes is easy. A large community of developers and companies build extensions, integrations, and plugins that help Kubernetes users do more.
  • Integration into the AWS ecosystem – AWS Controllers for Kubernetes (ACK) is a new tool that lets you directly manage AWS resources from Kubernetes. ACK makes it simple to build scalable and highly-available Kubernetes applications that utilize AWS services.

Microservices and Kubernetes

With microservices, instead of everything being built into one piece, all your applications are broken down into the smallest possible parts. These are kept independently from one another, which means that each process, or microservice, can be built, tested, deployed, or updated as a part of the whole, without disruption to the overall application.

Building microservices can get tricky quickly when you’re in a distributed cloud-based environment with lots of moving parts. Kubernetes provides a configurable layer for deploying, managing, and scaling the parts of a microservices application. Combined with the Docker container system, Kubernetes makes deploying and monitoring microservices on a cloud system like AWS much safer and more stable.

EKS: Kubernetes and AWS

EKS is an AWS offering of Kubernetes, the open-source container orchestration platform that has become increasingly popular. This is an important part of the entire AWS ecosystem, giving you access to everything that AWS has to offer.

EKS eliminates many of the hassles that come with the initial installation and maintenance of Kubernetes going forward. Amazon EKS runs upstream Kubernetes; it’s not a different flavor. You will get the same functionality as if you created your Kubernetes cluster, which makes the platform easy to clone if you want to run multi-cloud in the future.

As an open-source platform, EKS has the benefit of the thousands of developers who are continually working on its technology, actively contributing to functionality and new features. 

Unique selling points worth mentioning include managed node groups or running pods on AWS Fargate. Managed node groups automate the provisioning and lifecycle management of nodes (Amazon EC2 instances) for Amazon EKS Kubernetes clusters. EC2 instances (while being managed by AWS but still being customizable) and Auto Scaling groups run within your AWS account.

Picking the right instance size isn’t trivial and you often find that only half of the node’s capacity is being utilized. With Fargate, each pod runs on a right-sized VM and you only pay for the resources required to run the pod. No more over-provisioning as you don’t have to think about instances sizes, types, or your instance utilization.

Increasing Business Agility with AllCloud

Making the most out of containers and microservices comes with embracing an agile way of thinking. This includes adopting DevOps pipelines and embracing automation across your environment. For these goals, Kubernetes is a must-have. However, as an open-source technology that improves all the time, setting up and managing Kubernetes is a skill in and of itself.

Lucky for you, the team at AllCloud has years of experience in how to get it right the first time.

We work with each client to understand their unique business goals and requirements and turn that into a business and technical roadmap for approaching microservices. We then lean on our own tried and tested best practices, and the right technologies to achieve their specific enterprise goals.

Philipp Schuleter

Read more posts by Philipp Schuleter