What is Kubernetes?

Posted on 21/05/2019

It’s the technology that, in the words of VMware’s EMEA CTO Joe Baguley, is ‘making a rapid shift from the darkest reaches of IT into broader business parlance’, but what actually is Kubernetes?

According to Joe Beda, principal engineer at VMware and part of the team that created Kubernetes, it ‘is the idea of making it easier for application developers to ship applications faster, more reliably and in a way that benefits end users.’ At a time of increasing tech complexity, being able to deploy new apps and services to customers, at speed and scale, is exactly what enterprises are looking for.

So far, so good. But what makes Kubernetes stand out from other solutions that promise to do things better than before? This article on Radius provides more detail, but in essence Kubernetes is an open-source project that started at Google, before becoming a Cloud Native Computing Foundation project when version 1.0 was announced in 2015.

VMware vice president of research and development Craig McLuckie was also part of the original team behind Kubernetes. He went on to co-found Kubernetes start-up Heptio with Beda, before it was acquired by VMware at the end of 2018.

Explaining the decision to go to CNCF in the Radius article, McLuckie says “Our highest priority was to disrupt the industry, and the only practical way to do that was with a strong and open community around it. One of the really powerful things about open source technologies is that you can galvanize a community that will bring a unique set of perspectives, capabilities and attributes to the project. The alloy that emerges is stronger than any of the constituent pieces.”

Why cloud native? Containers are an easy method to transport applications from one environment to another. That makes them, and the orchestration provided by Kubernetes, ideal for cloud-native development.

Proof of Kubernetes appeal to enterprises comes in two guises – it is listed as one of the top open source projects on Github, with 6,500 unique contributors in 2018; and all the major players, including Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM, offer ways to run Kubernetes on their cloud platforms.

“With Amazon’s support of Kubernetes with EKS, we got the trifecta of the three major cloud providers leaning into and supporting Kubernetes,” Beda says. “I think that, for so many people, really catalyzed that Kubernetes was going to be here for the long term.”

To find out more about Kubernetes, including why the number seven has special meaning for the technology, take a look at ‘What is Kubernetes? 7 Fast Facts from the Founders’. If you’d like to know how you could use it in your application development, get in touch.


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