kubernetes orchestration
February 7, 2020

Kubernetes Orchestration: Overview, Tools, & Migration

Containers

What Is a Kubernetes Orchestration?

Kubernetes orchestration is a tool that automates the deployment, management, scaling, networking, and availability of container-based applications. Containers have become the modern way of packaging and distributing an application and its dependencies so that it can run anywhere (development workstation, test environment, production) ideally without any changes. This new capability has brought with it the need to automate the execution of these containers across a number of hosts to provide high availability and to distribute the load on the application among many other considerations. 

This is where Kubernetes orchestration comes in.

What Is a Kubernetes Orchestration Responsible for?

Kubernetes Orchestration is responsible for providing an abstraction layer over a cluster of virtual or physical machines. This abstraction layer, called the Kubernetes cluster, is accessed through the Kubernetes API allows for the automation of many tasks needed to run containers at scale. It simplifies the management of application-related resources like configuration files, storage, credentials. As companies move to a microservice-based architecture, where a single piece of application functionality runs within a container, Kubernetes has been indispensable tool in managing the complexity involved in tying these discrete pieces of functionality together.

Common Kubernetes Tools

Kubernetes is unique due to the large and growing ecosystem of supporting tools. Since Kubernetes is so versatile, it has become the defacto standard for container orchestration. Here are some of the common tools to integrate with Kubernetes: 

  • Github has Kubernetes as the number one project with 50,000 devs/commits. 
  • Docker Swarm has a much smaller community actively developing it. With Docker announcing that it would support Kubernetes, this solidifies Kubernetes as the orchestration tool of choice. Docker Swarm has less complexity and features than Kubernetes and is often used in non-production environments where developers want an easier path to container deployments at the prototyping or proof-of-concept stages of their development lifecycle. Here is a Docker vs. Kubernetes comparison. 
  • Helm is an application package registry used for Kubernetes. Helm “charts” allows for the deployment of a pre-configured software stack into Kubernetes using a single command.
  • Istio provides a service mesh, which is an infrastructure layer that runs within Kubernetes to allow microservice instances to communicate with each other.

Kubernetes Migration Challenges

Pre-Migration Challenges

Some of the biggest challenges in migrating to Kubernetes are encountered before setting up Kubernetes within an organization (either on-premises or hosted). Some of these challenges include:

  • Difficulty adopting a DevOps culture within your organization. 
  • Decomposing a monolithic application into a set of logical services that encapsulate the functionality of the application. 
  • Kubernetes comes with new abstractions and concepts; the learning curve is high. ensuring that the teams acquire the necessary skills and learn the best practices needed to operate this complex technology can be a challenge for organizations.

Post-Migration Challenges

Some of the challenges that may be encountered once an organization has a Kubernetes cluster up and running include:

  • Ensuring the Kubernetes control plane remains healthy and available. The Kubernetes control plane consists of the core components needed to run Kubernetes. These components are distributed across the hosts the make up the Kubernetes cluster. Managing and maintain distributed components can introduce additional complexity.
  • The deployment of the many microservices that constitute an application introduces its own set of challenges, although automation through a well-defined CI/CD pipeline can greatly reduce the exposure to the risks that these challenges bring. 
  • Tracing requests as they move across a distributed set of microservices introduces new challenges, although a number of tools have been developed to address this issue, such as Istio.

Leveraging Kubernetes Advantages

The potential migration difficulties can be easily aided from proper support and expertise to take full advantage of the benefits of Kubernetes. The cost-savings and efficiency of Kubernetes far outweigh any of the potential challenges that come with migration. 

Once you have a fully operating Kubernetes orchestration and a robust support system, you’ll be saving time and money. Learn about support options from OpenLogic by Perforce. With OpenLogic, you can speed adoption, cut risk, and save money by engaging our open source experts for end-to-end services.

Connect with one of our open source experts or try our OpenLogic Stack Builder tool! Our open source stack builder tool allows you to navigate your software stack with free, expert guidance along the way. Receive a custom report and framework for your OSS technology. 

BUILD YOUR STACK