Kubernetes-as-a-Service Lightens Load for IT Departments


Rackspace’s launch of its own Kubernetes-as-a-service (KaaS) product is another load-lightening development designed to make the work of IT departments easier and more efficient.

Kubernetes is the fast-growing open source system for managing containers, one of the most significant IT trends in recent years.

Containers isolate apps from IT systems to make them easier and faster to handle. Separating a company’s applications – whether a content management system, e-mail service or automated timesheets – into their own self-contained environments has many benefits. Containers can be easily moved between services, for instance from a private data center to a public cloud provider.

Adding Hardware Capacity

The containers can be shifted between devices and systems as they are freestanding and not tied to the overall infrastructure, and they are lightweight by not gobbling up storage space.

Containerization offers huge cost savings in IT infrastructure and are seen as a superior method of saving on hardware capacity compared to an older solution, virtual machines. Containers are a boon to software developers too, because they can work on apps in isolated environments. Rather than their updates being tied to a specific system, they can easily run on different devices and systems without bugs and glitches.

Another significant development is the ability to break down a company’s applications into their parts, known as micro-services, which can each be put in a different container. The big question is how to manage and orchestrate all these containers so they work together when needed and can be scaled up to serve millions of customers should demand suddenly spike.

Simplifying Complex Operations

That’s where services such as Kubernetes come in. The system orchestrates containers, automating their deployment and replication, scaling them up if demand rises, organizing the containers into groups and balancing loads between them. Kubernetes enables complex operations to be executed with a single line of command, and applications to be developed smoothly and deployed across systems without fear of something going wrong.

Kubernetes – also known as Kubes or K8s – was developed by Google from its own in-house system, Borg, which orchestrated containers for Google Search and Gmail, and launched as an open-source project in 2014.

It has been described as the most successful open-source project in history and is used by 69% percent of large businesses surveyed that use containers. This is big business software, as it comes into its own managing thousands of containers, and enables all companies to operate in a similar way to a tech giant like Google.

Outsourcing Hassle

Kubernetes is used by Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, as well as media businesses Sky, Bloomberg and the New York Times Company. A great case study is how it helped Pokemon Go scale up to handle 500 million downloads and become one of the most successful app games in history.

However, containers are not always loved by system administrators, who see them as time-consuming to create, yet another complex technology to master and a potential source of headaches and late-night phone calls.

IT departments often struggle to deploy new systems on their existing services, and Kubernetes is no different. Rackspace says IT teams find particular difficulties with the networking, storage and security aspects of Kubernetes. By offering to manage Kubernetes on their behalf, Rackspace aims to take pressure off IT departments and enable them to enjoy the benefits of containerization without the hassle.

Container orchestration has grown in tandem with today’s other dominant IT trend, the shift to cloud services, since containers make it easier to move applications from private data centers to to the cloud.

Kubernetes in the Cloud

Many cloud providers are offering their own managed Kubernetes services. Rackspace, which provides open-source technology and manages corporate cloud services, believes that Kubernetes-as-a-service will help businesses exploit the technology better. It offers to operate Kubernetes on almost all leading private and public cloud technologies at data centers worldwide, making multi-cloud deployments much easier and more effective.

Rackspace argues that companies using its managed KaaS will save 50% of the costs of managing Kubernetes themselves, promising an engineer at the end of a phone line to help with deployment.

It sees the as-a-service offering as part of a wider trend for IT departments to outsource management of their infrastructure in order to spend more time building and improving their applications and making them more effective and scalable.

The latest KaaS launch is another example of how managed infrastructure is enabling IT teams to become less like administrators and more like creative software developers.