Do You Need Kubernetes Support?

12 November 2021 by Tennis Smith

If you happen to have your finger on the pulse of the latest tech news, you’ve undoubtedly had a run-in with Kubernetes. You may have already heard your developers and DevOps teams talking about Kubernetes and remarking how outdated the application pipeline is without this hot new tech. So, if you choose to go with Kubernetes, will you need Kubernetes support? What does that support look like for companies looking to take the plunge into the world of Kubernetes?

Why you need Kubernetes support

At its core, the Kubernetes platform is all about running applications for modern software systems. To make that happen usually requires a team of DevOps engineers. Not just any DevOps team, either, but one with specialized knowledge regarding Kubernetes and whatever container orchestration platform they choose to work alongside. That’s why having a robust support team is critical to running Kubernetes. 

A team of qualified professionals you can rely on

To run Kubernetes properly, you essentially need a priesthood of people that understands Kubernetes and the relative cloud computing provider technology, not virtual machines that can’t fully understand the support you need. Unfortunately, the guy with the expert knowledge of Amazon Web Services (AWS) might not have the cross-over knowledge to help orchestrate and run a system with Azure. That’s part of the problem.

Running manual Kubernetes means your developers need to work through some hefty bureaucratic red tape to get apps in a running environment — all while following Kubernetes best practices. Let’s walk through the process. First, a developer will fill out a form requesting a cluster. This hits the DevOps engineer’s inbox. Then, they would go to AWS and ask for an EKS cluster. Next, an engineer gets assigned the cluster.

Now, the engineer may know about AWS, but not EKS. Even so, the engineer can move forward with getting the cluster up and running. After connecting to the databases, the engineer then sends the request back to the originator. This whole process can take days, if not weeks. At this point, the developer will need to gain access to the cluster to run the application — which they may or may not know how to do. 

What’s the point of this example? Well, it's to convey that you need a huge team for managing infrastructure within the Kubernetes platform. Each team member needs to know about specific technologies to perform their job. Without individual members with this specific knowledge supporting the platform, you won’t be able to develop containerized applications using a Kubernetes running environment.

Kubernetes is popular

Another important element to understand is the popularity of Kubernetes. Some might say it's too popular. It seems like everybody who’s anybody is talking about containerizing things. This makes the market for experts in Kubernetes quite competitive. 

It also means that some businesses are jumping on the bandwagon even though they don’t need Kubernetes. This further reduces the pool of potential Kubernetes specialists. These businesses never seem to ask the question, “why do we need Kubernetes?”— and it's costing them.

The cost of running a Kubernetes cluster database

All those team members we mentioned earlier, well, they don’t come cheap. Here, the popularity of Kubernetes comes into play again. For experts in the field, job opportunities are abundant. It's often the case to see Kubernetes teams liquidate when the experts behind the helm get a whiff of something more interesting and jump ship.

That means to keep a Kubernetes team you need to budget accordingly. It's not unheard of to see a Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) fetch a salary close to a quarter-million dollars. Now imagine if you need more than one expert managing your Kubernetes. Things get expensive very fast.

The fact is, Kubernetes is complicated

Kubernetes helps orchestrate a collection of Docker containers. Sounds simple, right? In reality, however, you’ll find quite a bit of background operations happening. Container orchestration is the simplest part of the entire system. Think of it as a cog. On its own, it's pretty basic. Even so, containers still represent a tremendous leap forward in the way we develop applications and software.

A powerful container management tool are one part of the equation. Much like a cog, containers only represent the basic building blocks of a larger, more complex system. While you might recognize and understand the basic shape of a cog, you’d have quite a time trying to rebuild a Rolex. Think of Kubernetes in this way.

Much like a seasoned watchmaker, Kubernetes experts have a firm understanding of all the components, terminology, and external pieces of the puzzle. That’s why Kubernetes support is a critical part of the equation when thinking about running the application development platform. Within the Kubernetes system is more than containers; you’ll also find:

  • Clusters
  • Pods
  • Nodes
  • Secrets
  • ...and more

Public cloud providers

Each variable is independently configurable. That means that, for every container in the system, you’ll need to decide how much CPU it needs, how much memory to allocate to the container and how many copies of the container need to be running. That’s part of what makes Kubernetes so complicated.

Let’s say you want to run Kubernetes on AWS — or whatever cloud development platform you prefer. That means whoever you put in charge not only needs to understand how to properly run Kubernetes but also the ins and outs of the AWS database structure. When we’re talking about Kubernetes knowledge, we mean more than a surface-level understanding of the basic components of Kubernetes architecture. Add it all up, and you get a complex system that requires specialized knowledge to manage properly.

Do you need Kubernetes?

While Kubernetes is quickly becoming the main name in the application development game, it's not for everyone. Your developers and DevOps teams might be cooing over the hottest tech, but don’t let them cajole you into getting wrapped up in an expensive service you might not even need. 

So, when do you need Kubernetes?

Kubernetes are great if you have many applications working together that need some complex initialization and setup. Container orchestration platforms, like Kubernetes, find success in larger companies that require a high number of microservices. Think of major players like Amazon or Netflix.

In these production environments, you’ll find a huge diversity of workflows and independent applications. You’ll also see a veritable army of developers and DevOps engineers working behind the scenes. If your team consists of a small handful of developers that are creating and maintaining only a few public cloud computing applications, Kubernetes might not be the right orchestration tool for you.

At the end of the day, you should be at least a mid-sized company that’s big enough to need your own app development team. Even still, if you’re running legacy modern software development on servers, Kubernetes still might not be the right fit. Always factor in key considerations before using Kubernetes.

Simplifying Kubernetes with Wayfinder

For businesses asking, “why do we need Kubernetes,” hopefully, now you have an answer. Even still, the entire process of implementing Kubernetes and hiring a team can seem like a mammoth task. This makes Kubernetes support an essential part of application development — if you choose to implement a more traditional Kubernetes architecture.

That’s the drawn-out process of requesting a cluster we detailed earlier. All the hands that needed to be involved and all the knowledge required to get it right? Well, that’s what Wayfinder is all about. We take the complexity out of Kubernetes and make Kubernetes available for everyone — even if you don’t have the budget for a team of CKAs. If you want to learn more about Wayfinder, reach out to our team today.

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About the author

Picture of Tennis Smith

Tennis Smith

Technical Marketing Architect

Tennis has spent over 40 years in the business. Starting from a stint in the US Air Force he has worked in various capacities ranging from equipment installation, software QA, application development and DevOps. During his 30 years in Silicon Valley, he worked at numerous companies including Apple, Cisco, and Visa International. On the personal side, he has been married for 25 years, is an enthusiastic martial artist, and spends entirely too much money on his cats.

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