The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation by as much as four to seven years for companies in all sectors and regions, according to a recent McKinsey Global Survey. To keep pace with this rapid development life cycle, 90% of enterprises expect their cloud usage going forward to exceed prior plans.
In an era when being first to market and continuous improvement are paramount, businesses need to have the infrastructure in place to facilitate agile, resilient and secure application development. An overwhelming majority of them now embrace a multi-cloud strategy, relying on several providers for their IT needs. While this approach has clear advantages — such as avoiding vendor lock-in, increasing resilience and improving scalability — it’s not without drawbacks.
Basically, the more clouds an organization has, the more difficult they are to configure and manage. This is especially true for those that adopt containerization as part of a larger DevOps philosophy.
Container technology helps IT teams accelerate innovation and cloud-native application development. But navigating and managing containers in a multi-cloud environment isn’t easy. They introduce additional complexity to application management, including issues with provisioning, rapid deployment and security.
Which is why so many enterprises turn to Kubernetes.
Kubernetes at a glance
What is it?
Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration system that empowers IT teams to better configure, deploy, monitor and manage containerized applications through automation. Originally developed by Google, cloud-native Kubernetes was donated to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in 2015 and has rapidly become one of the most popular container management platforms available.
The solution allows operations and development teams to:
- Orchestrate containers across multiple clouds.
- Optimize resource utilization.
- Automate application deployments.
- Scale containerized applications as needed.
How does it actually work?
Kubernetes automates Linux and Windows container operations to eliminate the manual processes involved in deploying and scaling applications.
Mike Kail, chief technology officer and cofounder at CYBRIC, explained the Kubernetes cloud with a lunchbox analogy:
“Let’s say an application environment is your old-school lunchbox. The contents of the lunchbox were all assembled well before putting them into the lunchbox [but] there was no isolation between any of those contents. The Kubernetes system provides a lunchbox that allows for just-in-time expansion of the contents (scaling) and full isolation between every unique item in the lunchbox and the ability to remove any item without affecting any of the other contents (immutability).”
Kubernetes in a multi-cloud environment
The use of containers in production has grown to 92% — a 300% percent increase since 2016 — with Kubernetes cloud use up to 83% from 78% in 2019. For organizations utilizing multi-cloud environments, Kubernetes provides crucial portability that makes it easier to switch between cloud providers based on the needs of the workload.
The biggest challenge when developing applications across multiple environments is that each one has different topologies and dependencies. While it’s possible to create isolated projects and manage them separately on a micro level, this becomes unworkable when scaling up, as the increased risk of human error introduces potentially costly vulnerabilities.
Because Kubernetes works across environments, it’s a natural fit for configuring, automating and managing workloads and facilitating migration between clouds.
Benefits of Kubernetes
Kubernetes multi-cloud architecture has several key advantages.
It’s generally easy to set up workloads in a single cloud using the vendor-supplied tools. But they usually don’t work with other providers’ clouds, which makes provisioning much more challenging and time consuming.
Kubernetes is environment-agnostic and workloads hosted in it are uniform, so you can easily provision them across all your clouds.
Kubernetes speeds up application development and refactoring by automating resource availability, configuration, optimization and failure handling. What may originally have taken two weeks can be done in minutes.
This positions you to innovate faster, shorten the time to market and drive competition.
Multi-cloud environments can help enterprises optimize their resource utilization and management by allowing them to select hosts and solutions that best meet their needs. However, the more clouds they have, the greater the chance that wasteful process and workload inefficiencies will occur.
Kubernetes reduces the likelihood of these problems by standardizing configurations and workloads across all your cloud environments. With fewer variables at play, costs are easier to predict and manage.
A key driver for adopting a multi-cloud strategy is to increase resiliency and business continuity through redundancy. While IT teams don’t need Kubernetes to do this, it is more difficult — and less reliable — without it. For example, if they set up a virtual machine (VM) on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, each workload would need to be individually configured based on the requirements of each cloud. And chances are they wouldn’t be identical.
Kubernetes ensures that your workloads are consistently replicated by configuring the container once and reproducing it across your multi-cloud environment.
Challenges of Kubernetes
Despite the many advantages of Kubernetes, adoption isn’t without its drawbacks.
Lack of in-house skills
Recent surveys suggest that 55% of technologists see a lack of in-house skills as the biggest roadblock to adopting a Kubernetes multi-cloud architecture. Although Kubernetes remains a popular solution and continues to grow in use, extensive training and experience are required to build, deploy and manage it effectively.
If your organization wants to take advantage of a Kubernetes multi-cloud architecture, it will need to invest in professional development, training and certification.
Visibility and monitoring
Working across multiple environments is a double-edged sword. Despite its benefits, deploying Kubernetes across clouds — and even on-premises and managed services — creates significant complexity and fragmentation. This makes visibility difficult.
To successfully manage applications and realize the full benefits of Kubernetes, you need a holistic, end-to-end view of your multi-cloud environment.
Security and compliance
Security remains a critical concern for companies looking to adopt multi-cloud Kubernetes. Because it enables large-scale automation and replication, even a small error in configuration can leave their clouds vulnerable.
Automating configuration wherever possible is key to minimizing the threat of human error. Additionally, your organization will need to shift left and collaborate across your development, operations and security teams to implement security measures from the get-go for each project.
We’ve got your back
While we can’t retrain your workforce, we can help your IT teams overcome other cons of Kubernetes adoption and manage your multi-cloud environment like pros.
AppDynamics’ Kubernetes monitoring capability seamlessly integrates into your workflows for scalable monitoring across your entire application ecosystem, providing 360-degree visibility and allowing them to:
- Leverage machine learning (ML) capabilities to avoid false alarms and reduce noise.
- Quickly isolate and triage performance issues across clouds.
- Address potential security threats in real time before they affect your end users.