Kubernetes Manages The Cloud
Kubernetes is a system that automates Linux container operations. Containers provide a way for you to run your application in an isolated environment by packaging the application’s code, libraries, and dependencies into a single object.
You might think of them almost like a virtual machine but without the complexity and overhead of having a separate kernel and hardware emulation.
Because of this, the container will run in a predictable manner regardless of the environment the container is run in. Essentially Kubernetes allows you to manage containers to handle operations like:
- Running containers across many different machines
- Launching new containers in the event of failures
- Distributing loads between containers
Kubernetes is often used side by side with another platform called Docker. Docker is used actually to build applications into containers. Essentially Docker is used to build containers, and you use Kubernetes to manage their day to day operation.
One thing you might find confusing though is that Docker can also be used to perform container management, but it isn’t required that you do so. Docker has its management tool called Docker Swarm which lets you deploy and interact with groups of containers as a single unit.
Just remember that Docker Swarm is a separate entity than the Docker engine itself.
Let's take a look at some of the parts of the Kubernetes platform. The goal of Kubernetes is to disassociate applications from the hardware, virtual machines, and cloud platforms the software is running on.
Understanding the different parts of the Kubernetes platform will help you better understand its advantages. Here are some terms to familiarize yourself with:
A node is one of the physical or virtual machines that run the different containers. A node could be physical on-premises server, a virtual machine running on a hosted dedicated server, a hosted VPS, or a robust cloud hosting solution.
Nodes are essentially your computing infrastructure.
A pod is a set of containers that are grouped. Pods run on nodes, and they run together as a unit. Pods can communicate with each other, and they can share storage, but they do not necessarily have to run on the same node.
A service defines a set of Pods and provides and policies through which you can access them. Think of the service as the way Kubernetes distributes work. Let's say you had three pods each running Nginx.
A web page is served. The service is the interface through the front end sends and receive data from the pods. The front doesn’t care which pod does the work; the service is what manages that part.
A deployment is a set of pods. Deployments make sure enough pods are running to cover the resources needed by the application as well as shut down any pods that aren’t in use.
One use case where Kubernetes plays a considerable role is when hybrid architectures are in play. An organization might have its data center or other on-site data while also keeping the option of adding computing resources from the cloud.
In this case, Kubernetes makes clear sense as Kubernetes as Pods can share data storage and add additional nodes and pods can be spun up in the could as more resources are needed.
This same ability also makes container based architectures great for cases requiring load balancing.
Having a cloud-based architecture at your fingertips with the ability to spin up additional web server and architecture on an as needed basis as your workloads increase.
Another time Kubernetes is a great solution is when you are designing self-healing infrastructures. Since pods and nodes can be created and allocated as needed if a node errors out, new ones can be spun up so that there are no interruptions in services.
This kind of flexibility in error recovery makes Kubernetes a clear technology choice when trying to build self-repairing architectures.
If you need help with Kubernetes, it's important to understand this is a piece of open source technology. Google created Kubernetes and released to the public, so there isn’t an official support path directly from them.
You can find great help on their forums. If the community assistance isn’t enough, there is a list of certified partners on their website.
On this page, you can find training, certified hosted platforms, and service providers. If you look over the list of their partners, you’ll see Kubernetes enjoys strong support from companies such as Google, IBM, and Microsoft.
In the event, you need a container product with the more official support you do have an option. The Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is an enterprise-grade Kubernetes environment. By using this platform, you get the advantages of Kubernetes while getting the official support of Red Hat.
The OpenShift Container Platform is available both as a product for your data center or as a Platform as a Service product. With this option, you have a supported enterprise-level container solution backed by Red Hat’s reputation.
Being able to run your applications predictably while still maintaining scalability is a crucial part of leveraging a modern cloud infrastructure. Using Kubernetes combined with Docker gives you a platform to do so.
Over the past few years, both of these technologies have seen significant upticks in use and are finding support on both the Linux and Windows Server sides of the hosting business. Containers are here to stay, and it's essential you understand what they’re for and how they’re used.
If you want to learn more about containers and the technologies behind them head over to linuxcontainers.org. That's the website for the umbrella project behind many Linux container technologies and is a great next stop for more info.
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