Kubernetes is the number one container orchestration program, but still faces challenges


Kubernetes is the top cloud container orchestration program, but that doesn’t mean it’s home free. A Platform 9 survey at the most recent KubeCon in Austin identified both strong and weak points for the program.

First, the good news: Kubernetes is gaining new users and developers rapidly. KubeCon attendance grew 400% from 2016 to 2017.

The survey also found that the boundaries between development and operations are continuing to blur. 55% of the survey’s respondents managed operations; while 61% were involved in design and development. Nearly half identified themselves as doing both. DevOps isn’t just a good idea, it’s business reality.

Most people (76.1%) are using containers managed by Kubernetes to run web applications, and 69% were using containers as a more efficient alternative to virtual machines (VMs). I find that last part a little surprising. The quickest way to use containers to improve your business bottom line is to replace VMs with containers.

A new container workload, which is rapidly gaining steam, is functions-as-a-service, (FaaS). It came in third with a 48.7% usage rate by those surveyed. FaaS is a serverless framework, which can use containers and Kubernetes to deliver Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) programs. Popular examples include AWS Lambda, Microsoft Azure Functions, and Google Cloud Functions.

Kubernetes is being using on many cloud platforms. The most popular of these, at 48.5% usage, is Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS has only recently officially adopted Kubernetes, but corporate IT had already jumped on Kubernetes to manage containers on AWS. Private clouds running on Linux took second with 40.7%. After that, VMware private clouds, Google Cloud and Azure, took third through fifth place.

As for the “competition,” Mesos and Docker are lagging far behind Kubernetes in interest. Most Kubernetes users are deploying it themselves with open-source Kubernetes. Interest is increasing in vendor-supported Kubernetes, but for now most people are running Kubernetes with in-house resources.

Now, for the, let’s call it, not so good news.

It’s not that easy to run Kubernetes. The top three concerns Kubernetes users have are:

  1. Managing multi-cloud or hybrid environments with Kubernetes
  2. Running stateful or data-intensive workloads. While Kubernetes is gaining capabilities, users are understandably concerned about the complexity of being able to run such workloads easily
  3. The complexity of operating Kubernetes in production in the enterprise

The common problem behind these concerns is that there aren’t enough people who know Kubernetes well and can deploy and manage it. I’ve spoken to many cloud and containers administrators and, while everyone likes Kubernetes, finding the right people is a real challenge.

True, Kubernetes makes managing containers easier, but that doesn’t mean it has no learning curve of its own. For the next few years, training, hiring, and retaining Kubernetes-savvy employees will be Kubernetes’ biggest challenge.


Amazon joins the rush to Kubernetes

Microsoft doubles down on Kubernetes for Azure

For cloud container orchestration, it’s all Kubernetes, all the time


  1. […] Docker has its own container orchestration program, Docker Swarm mode, but the company saw the wind was blowing towards Kubernetes so it added Kubernetes to its selection of orchestration tools in October […]


  2. […] rules cloud-container orchestration. We all know that. You may also know that Google created Kubernetes and then spun the […]


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