An intro to Kubernetes: the future is containerised

By Harry Menear
Welcome to Data Centre Magazine’s crash course in Kubernetes, the platform that powers the modern data centre...

Kubernetes - a name which means helmsman or pilot in the original Greek - is one of the most powerful, scalable and widely-used platforms for running production workloads in the world. Thousands of enterprises use it to automate functions, and manage containerised workloads. Kubernetes is one of the most vital software elements present in most modern data centres, but what is it? 

This week, Data Centre Magazine is bringing you a crash course in Kubernetes to help you better understand and operate your data centre software. 

The Best of Both Worlds (Part 1)

The Kubernetes platform is based on Google’s own internal platform, Borg. In fact, the seven spokes in the Kubernetes logo are a reference to its original name: Project Seven of Nine. 

So, setting aside the fact that the world is run by nerds (something we should probably be grateful for), what is Kubernetes?

The Kubernetes project was originally launched in 2014. In simple terms, the platform is an open source container orchestration tool that allows developers to automate many of the processes when deploying and running applications in a software architecture. 

Containers are a way of packaging an application, along with all its runtime dependencies. This basically separates the application from the wider software architecture, ensuring that it displays the same behaviours each time it’s run, since without containers, changes elsewhere in the host infrastructure can have some seriously screwy effects on the outcome of running an application. 

A traditional deployment would have no way of defining resource boundaries for applications in a physical server. The Kubernetes blog notes that, “For example, if multiple applications run on a physical server, there can be instances where one application would take up most of the resources, and as a result, the other applications would underperform.” 

With the addition of containers and virtual machines to enterprise networks, IT teams have access to increased agility, continuous deployment and increased transparency into their networks. 

What can you do with Kubernetes?

As a data centre operator or colocation services provider, you have to oversee and execute hundreds - if not thousands - of workloads every day. Updates are a regular occurrence and uptime is non-negotiable. Kubernetes’ containerisation software allows you to introduce an unparalleled level of resilience and scalability into your system when managing operations and the virtual machines that make up a cloud or hybrid data centre. 

In the same way that virtual machines replaced physical servers over the last decade, the Kubernetes style container is now replacing the virtual machine as the foundation of the modern IT business model. The landscape that this container-first approach is creating is already well-populated by public cloud platforms with the potential to completely restructure the way that the modern data centre operates. 

Google Kubernetes Engine, Azure Kubernetes Service, IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service, Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes, Pivotal Container Service, VMware Kubernetes Engine, and the grandfather of all containerised platforms Red Hat's OpenShift Online, are all helping deliver containers-as-a-service (CaaS) as the future of IT architecture. 

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