The five reasons Kubernetes won the container orchestration wars

five stars

When I first looked at Kubernetes and the other cloud container orchestration programs, I knew Kubernetes would be the winner. No, ifs, ands or buts about it. The program was clearly so much better than its competition. Today, even its rivals support it. Why?

Kubernetes enables you to run clusters of containers at scale on pretty much any platform: Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, OpenStack, whatever. If it’s a cloud and can support containers, it’s there. At the recently concluded KubeCon in Seattle, Washington, no fewer than 80 vendors were offering Kubernetes distributions that can run on private or public clouds.

At KubeCon Google engineer and conference co-chair Janet Kuo gave five reasons why Kubernetes has lived up to the hype.

The first thing Kubernetes had going for it, Kuo explained, is it built on the foundation of Google Borg. “Google has been running containers in production for over a decade, and Google uses Borg to power its intensive online services like Google search, Gmail and YouTube. So even though Kubernetes is still very young, it can leverage the lessons learned and the best ideas from Borg,” she said.

It’s no wonder I found Kubernetes to be so much more stable than its competitors.

The second reason is Kubernetes isn’t tied to one architecture or organization. It can, and does, run everywhere. No matter what technology you’re invested in, Kubernetes can help you.

“Kubernetes provides a convenient abstraction layer over infrastructure,” Kuo said. “So it is possible to run Kubernetes in all sorts of different environments, and it’s also quite easy to move Kubernetes from one environment to another.”

This is also why Kubernetes is so popular with hybrid-cloud supporters. Kubernetes not only runs on a variety of clouds, it enables you to run workloads across multiple platforms.

In addition, it’s easy to get started with Kubernetes. Specifically, Kuo highlighted MiniKube. With MiniKube you can set up a Kubernetes cluster and start experimenting with Kubernetes on your laptop computer in less than half-an-hour.

The fourth reason, Kuo said, is Kubernetes’ declarative application programming interface (API). This makes it easy to adopt and to deploy Kubernetes in production. “With an imperative API, you need to tell the system each single step that you want to do to accomplish a task,” Kuo said. “With declarative, you can just declare the final state you want to accomplish without [saying] how to do it.”

Finally, Kubernetes has a large, active community that spans multiple companies. It may have started with Google, but as Kuo pointed out, “In the Kubernetes community, there’s no concentration of power and there’s no single vendor influence. This makes the community open and collaborative. Competitors come together to contribute to Kubernetes and, because everyone can contribute, this enables innovation.”

Looking ahead, Kuo said, “Kubernetes has lived up to its hype and we don’t need more hype. We need to work together as a community to sustain Kubernetes’ success by continuing to invest in quality, user experience, and conformance.”

Based on what I saw at KubeCon, with 8,000 attendees from essentially every important enterprise company, the Kubernetes community will continue to play an ever-larger role in business IT.


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