How to Get Started With Kubernetes the Right Way: DevOps Experts Weigh In

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Kubernetes automates processes to manage containerized apps successfully. However, it is not as simple to operate as it appears. Dealing with Kubernetes and its deployment process raises security issues as well and this is why a thorough understanding of how Kubernetes works is essential. This article will help you learn more about Kubernetes, how to deploy it correctly, the issues accompanying it, and more. Let’s take a closer look.

Kubernetes serves as the next generation of infrastructure or platform that many companies currently embrace. What virtualization did to OS systems, Kubernetes is doing the same with containerization. It’s nevertheless crucial to remember that, as simple as Kubernetes may appear, it involves a lot of critical procedures and intricate components. Thus, most developers find setting up the necessary infrastructure on Kubernetes challenging. In this article, Toolbox has covered crucial tips from the experts on implementing Kubernetes the right way without committing a rookie mistake.

Starting Kubernetes the Right Way

The rise of cloud-native applications, developed with Kubernetes and running on container-based infrastructures, has enabled new classes of more agile, flexible, and scalable classes

Jim RapozaOpens a new window ,VP and principal analyst at Aberdeen Strategy and Research

In a recent webinar on How Leading Businesses Are Effectively Leveraging Kubernetes and Containers, Rapoza spoke about how Kubernetes has forced businesses to rethink building applications mainly in a good way. “Still, there are challenges with implementing not just the new technology but the one that completely changes the paradigm of how businesses have classically developed the applications.”

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A recent survey from Aberdeen found that there are significant concerns around security and privacy despite companies rushing to adopt Kubernetes and other DevOps approaches. “There is nothing inherent to containers that we can label security-focused,” Rapoza says. “However, we found that as firms upgrade, they typically realize security improvements, according to our study across all IT sectors.” Previously, businesses were hesitant to “adopt new technology” such as Kubernetes. Businesses are already realizing that ‘legacy’ or ‘outdated stuff’ is typically the largest security concern.

Despite the fact that Kubernetes is becoming increasingly popular, its deployments, like those of any other software infrastructure solution, need careful planning and allocation of computing resources and architecture. Let’s look at the preparatory procedures to follow before getting started with Kubernetes.

Key Steps To Follow When Getting Started With Kubernetes

Step 1: Get acquainted with Kubernetes

Logan DonleyOpens a new window , senior technical evangelist, CloudBees, spells out four factors to keep in mind before deploying Kubernetes: 

  1. Kubernetes is a powerful platform that can help you solve many challenges that you will encounter with traditional infrastructure. It does a good job abstracting away the underlying details of what is going on, giving you a declarative way to define the applications running in your cluster.
  2. A consequence of Kubernetes doing so much is that it can be challenging to understand what it is doing under the hood when you are first getting started. It is easy to get lost if you dive straight into some Kubernetes tutorials without first having a conceptual understanding of how it works and what it is doing.
  3. Additionally, if you are not already familiar with containers, you will need to learn those basics before even attempting to understand Kubernetes. Workloads in Kubernetes run inside pods, which are self-enclosed sets of one or many containers. 
  4. The Kubernetes docs listed below have some great resources to help you understand the concepts before you dive in:

Once you are well acquainted with the concepts of Kubernetes, it is time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Know if Kubernetes is really an answer to your problem

Before starting down the Kubernetes path, it is important to know if Kubernetes, and therefore containers, will help you solve the problem you have. Pavan BelagattiOpens a new window , developer advocate at Harness says, “Kubernetes was created in response to the rapid adoption and comparative difficulty of running Docker containers. If your application is designed to run in many containers, and you require help automating the steps when starting them, Kubernetes is likely a good fit.” 

Belagatti gives an application example that would benefit from Kubernetes – a large microservices-based app with many components running in separate containers. With so many containers, Kubernetes’ ability to orchestrate the deployment of your containers will likely prove essential.

“If, on the other hand, you have a typical monolithic application with one codebase, then you probably don’t need Kubernetes, and just a virtual machine may meet your needs” 

Pavan Belagatti, developer advocate, Harness

Step 3: Develop a good understanding of workloads and costs per user

Jason MorgansonOpens a new window , VP of engineering at Cherre, suggests before starting with Kubernetes, look at the system requirements for the workloads you need to run. Kubernetes is a great way to run persistent services and even things like cron jobs, but it’s important to know that it is not the only way to run those things. Other options include serverless services like cloud functions or even blending the benefits of serverless and Kubernetes with Knative. Cloud providers have mature options for all of these solutions worth looking into before rolling your own.

David Ben Shabat, VP of R&D at Quali, says – after understanding the motivations behind moving to Kubernetes, also get interested in lowering user costs. “Have a good understanding of your costs per user. That can then be extrapolated out to however many users you need to accommodate.”

Kickstarting Kubernetes – How to Begin and Best Practices to Follow

Best way to start with Kubernetes

After understanding the concepts of Kubernetes, Donley thinks the best way to get started is to pick a fairly simple but usable application and build out the necessary resource definitions to get it running in Kubernetes. “If you have some internal service that doesn’t have a complicated architecture, that can make a good candidate for the first app to move into Kubernetes. You don’t want to take on too much at once,” he adds.

Next, the Kubernetes docs provide the schemas for the YAML files you’ll need to write. Donley suggests some great resources where one can play around with a real environment, such as KatacodaOpens a new window .

See More: Top Five Free Cloud Platforms to Learn Kubernetes Online

While you can use an option like Minikube to play around with Kubernetes, it is better to use a managed service from your cloud providers like EKS, GKE, or AKS. “This lets you take advantage of ingresses, volumes, and more in the same way you’ll be using them in a real environment. Additionally, managed Kubernetes providers often make it trivial to set up node autoscaling so you can spin up more resources as needed but scale down when not in use to limit cost,” he says.

Best practices for running apps on Kubernetes

According to Aberdeen’s data, over 70% of firms utilize Kubernetes throughout the full application development process. The top benefits of Kubernetes, which are displayed in the graphic below, are driving companies’ increased interest in the technology:

Source: Aberdeen Strategy & Research

Here are some best practices that Belagatti mentions for running apps on Kubernetes to get the most out of Kubernetes:

  1. Don’t mount any file systems of your host inside a container unless you need them for data persistence purposes.
  2. Tag your images with proper names. Using the latest tag in production creates chaos. By default, images get tagged as ‘latest,’ which does not give you control over which image you use. Hence, it is crucial to name your new images with proper conventions and versions. 
  3. Be careful to deploy each service to the right Kubernetes node to avoid silly mistakes. 
  4. Use deployment strategiesOpens a new window like Blue-Green, Canary, and Rolling while deploying new versions of your application to verify that your application has deployed successfully and to roll it back when it does not. 
  5. Deploy applications with required security configurations, logging and monitoring capabilities to keep your application safe and make it easier to see what is happening when your services interact. Set a limit on the resources (such as CPU, memory, etc.) consumption to avoid surprising cloud bills.

Possible Challenges and Solutions

Michael CadeOpens a new window , senior global technologist, Veeam Software, urges caution to developers about the VM to container journey. He says it’s not an easy lift and shift migration from a virtual machine to a container. “It takes a redesign for the most part to understand the services that make up an application and how that is going to look in the Kubernetes platform.” 

The myth related to data management is around not having to protect or be able to use an existing tool for the job. “Kubernetes is not magic and the data within the platform still requires care and attention when it comes to protecting that data,” he warns. Cade believes when it comes to using existing solutions, such as image-based backup solutions, might be able to protect some of the data. Still, when it comes to consistency with data services, this is where an image-based solution will fall short.

Use Role Based Access Control (RBAC) to set access and policies for users. Going fully manual in the processes can be detrimental to one’s organization as it isn’t repeatable or scalable. Use the right tools or platforms to standardize and automate the necessary processes – IaC tools to standardize provisioning and updates.

David Ben Shabat, VP of R&D at Quali

Javier PerezOpens a new window , chief evangelist – open source & security, Perforce Software, talks about the three challenges and ways to overcome them while moving to Kubernetes.

  • The number one challenge for onboarding Kubernetes is to ensure you have a skilled workforce who can manage the technology. Open source skills, especially cloud-native technologies, are in high demand. Kubernetes deployment will prove challenging if you don’t have the personnel.
  • Another challenge will be to keep up with the latest updates and patches. Kubernetes is evolving rapidly, and organizations must keep up with the constant releases that include new functionalities and bugs and security fixes.
  • Pay attention to Kubernetes versions under long-term community support and end-of-life versions that will not receive any more updates.

See More: 5 Reasons Your Organization May Migrate to Kubernetes in 2022

Donley highlights two common mistakes people make when they move to Kubernetes:

  • People try to do everything at once. Working with Kubernetes is a stark contrast to the traditional ways of managing applications. It is best to start slow, build up your understanding of the system, and figure out the best process for managing your application.
  • Another challenge is understanding how Kubernetes interacts with your cloud provider to provision resources like load balancers and disks. Kubernetes abstracts these concepts away, so you typically don’t need to think about them. But it is worth exploring the documentation for your Kubernetes provider to understand what types of resources it may interact with.

Conclusion

Using Kubernetes is not complex if the ideas and efforts are in place. Organizations need to ensure they have prior expertise with containerization, container deployments, and the proper architecture for scaling containerized apps and services. If not, then start by having the baseline knowledge. Once you have that in place, get a container with a down application, and then have another container begin automatically. Organizations will be able to use Kubernetes’ orchestration and resiliency for distributed systems as their deployments increase.

Do you think organizations’ knowledge about Kubernetes’ challenges is in line with its adoption? Let us know on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to hear from you! 

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