Kubernetes: Ultimate Guide for IT Operations

Containers and Kubernetes are transforming the way organizations manage applications and infrastructure. Organizations are using containers and Kubernetes to improve developer speed and agility, manage application complexity, and modernize applications. IT operations teams are recommending Kubernetes because it offers a way to increase efficiency, reduce costs and risks, and enable self-service infrastructure.

This guide focuses on you, the IT operator, presenting Shadow-Soft’s point of view on the topic of Kubernetes. Throughout the guide, you’ll learn more about why the business wants Kubernetes, why IT operations wants Kubernetes, and why Red Hat OpenShift is the enterprise-ready solution many IT operations teams are recommending to their organizations.

Kubernetes IT Operations Guidetions

Table of contents:

Business Drivers

Improve developer strategy

Containers provide a consistent way to package application components and their dependencies into a single object that can run in any environment. By packaging code and its dependencies into container images, development teams can use standardized units of code as consistent building blocks. Containers start and stop quickly and run the same way in any environment, allowing applications to scale to any size.

Development teams can use containers to package entire applications and move them to the cloud without the need to make any code modifications. Additionally, containers allow teams to quickly build application workflows that are capable of running between on-premises and cloud environments, enabling the smooth operation of a hybrid cloud environment.

Kubernetes, a container orchestration system, increases the velocity by which organizations can deploy and scale containers in a simple and streamlined manner.  Due to the native ability to elastically scale container instances, developers are forced to consider statefulness and caching mechanisms upfront during application architecture design sessions. This naturally prevents technical debt by enforcing organizations to consider how their application should be built to elastically scale upfront rather than be forced to redesign months or years into development.

Finally, organizations that are developing software need a simplified and efficient way for developers to deploy their workloads without waiting on someone to spin up a piece of hardware.  Container orchestration platforms (i.e. Kubernetes) enable users by acting as a self-service infrastructure system whereby users are given a set of pre-provisioned nodes and quota limits to deploy their workloads with minimal intervention from operations.

Manage application complexity

In terms of lifecycle management, a full-fledged Kubernetes-based PaaS (such as OpenShift) minimizes the complexity of managing interconnected applications and services at runtime. As enterprise applications become more complex, development and operations teams alike will inevitably require a series of tools that can orchestrate their deployment’s complexity. They need a way to coordinate all the services which their applications depend on, making sure the applications and services are healthy and actively communicating together.

Modernize applications

Traditional applications that are slow, large, and clunky don’t scale well because they’ve been designed to operate to just get the job done. Monolith applications are traditionally built around feature requirements without considering the impact on environment stability and performance at scale.

Application modernization involves thinking about how to refactor a traditional monolith to be able to elastically scale individual components. This allows you to diagnose problems and rapidly increase the performance of individual components where there might be outlied performance degradation.

For example, an organization may have an application that isn’t performing as expected. Traditionally, organizations would just add additional memory or replicate the entire system and front the traffic with a load balancer with sticky sessions enabled. Though this may initially solve a customer’s problem, it’s not cost-effective nor addressing the root cause of the underlying problem. This especially doesn’t bode well for an organization where you have a cloud environment and cost is associated with that usage.

In the vast majority of instances, It’s only one component of an application that’s making it perform slowly. When leveraging Kubernetes, users are forced to build their system from the ground up in a more modular fashion to allow for functional elastic scaling. In doing so, applications are capable of scaling individual components as necessary in response to performance events keeping costs down and the application function stable. For example, scaling individual components of an e-commerce platform automatically in response to usage associated with Black Friday.

Related: Ready to Configure and Integrate Kubernetes? Learn about Shadow-Soft’s implementation, enablement, and integration services.

Kubernetes Drivers

Why consider a prebuilt orchestration platform?

With any pre-built container orchestration platform, many issues are natively addressed for an organization. Security is built-in into the platform, scalability issues are resolved, cluster installation is streamlined and a myriad of additional plugins exist to solve integration needs.

Most organizations aren’t in the business of building their own custom IT infrastructure but are instead focused on providing features to their customer which fit their given use case.  If an organization tries to build an orchestration system itself, it will inherit the burden of writing and maintaining new functionality. This includes managing the performance, integration and security of all system functionality of the cluster in addition to handling all of these tasks for the application it deploys on the cluster itself. A container orchestration platform such as Kubernetes makes these features available for organizations to use out of the box.

Why Kubernetes

  • Self-healing applications -requires proper “failover design”
  • Orchestrate containers across virtual and physical machines
  • Standardized API driven management
  • 100s of prebuilt integrations – monitoring, log aggregation, storage (persistent)
  • Standard command-line interface for management and automation workflow – yaml compatible resource creation

OpenShift Drivers

Kubernetes is your engine; Red Hat OpenShift is your car

With Kubernetes by itself, organizations are getting the bare minimum to deploy an application at scale. However, Kubernetes natively lacks many features that are necessary to maintain a production-facing application.  Some of these features include the following:

  • Performance Monitoring
  • Metrics
  • Persistence Storage
  • Log Aggregation
  • Service Mesh
  • Secrets Management

To solve this problem, a variety of solutions have been created to provide a solid foundation for addressing many of these feature concerns.  Red Hat has gone the extra mile with their container platform OpenShift by taking the Kubernetes orchestration engine and building a complete enterprise-grade solution around it.  They address the above-mentioned feature concerns by bundling together native integrated solutions which have been fully tested for compatibility, performance, and security concerns.  In addition, they have improved the native command-line interface and web-based user interface to provide a more user-friendly system for managing application life cycles while maintaining full compatibility with all native Kubernetes functions.  Administrators can more easily manage resource quotas and operationally maintain cluster health while development users can more easily interact with their individual projects.

OpenShift creates a paradigm that is exactly the same for facilitating your entire IT operation team for managing Kubernetes in a way that is uniquely the same across all Kubernetes instances. It provides customers with a consistent experience across cloud providers and customer data centers.

Why OpenShift

  • IDE integration plugin (Eclipse)
  • Management of clusters across cloud and hybrid environments (i.e. customer data center)
  • Improved CLI for better user experience
  • Self-service portal for developers and system administrators
  • Common criteria certification of underlying O/S (RHEL and CoreOS)
  • Improved security posture
  • Certified integrations for performance, integrity and security
  • Non-X86 workload compliance (Power and Z)
  • Out of the box Jenkins integration

Platform Comparison

As organizations begin to incorporate Kubernetes into their application workflow, they will inevitably consider cloud-native solutions such as Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).  Though these solutions are quite convenient and allow you to install a Kubernetes instance with some cloud-native integrated solutions, they lack in a few key areas, including:

  • Cross-cloud support
  • On-premise support
  • Tool consistency across environments
  • Integrated Self Service Portal for End-Users

In regards to rolling your own Kubernetes solution, AKS/EKS/GKE offer a myriad of benefits.  Unfortunately, the integrated solution stack is cloud-specific and provides no means of an equivalent experience across clouds and on-premise environments.  Organizations that choose this path are further vendor-locking themselves into a given cloud platform and have limited native abilities in offering a comprehensive self-service developer experience.

Alternatively, OpenShift can straddle hybrid cloud environments and provides support for traditional mainframe environments giving engineers the ability to leverage additional points of intersection with their current hardware footprint. This enables organizations to have to focus on a specific toolset that will unanimously be the same across all environments. Additionally, as mentioned previously, developers are given a full self-service experience ultimately leading to faster developer times thereby enabling them to focus on features first.

Related: Need help comparing Kubernetes platforms? Speak with our technical team to learn how we can help.

Summary

Organizations love Kubernetes and the capabilities it provides natively across a variety of environments. With the increasing need of production workloads requiring a full-fledged enterprise-grade solution though, Red Hat OpenShift offers a unique solution that unifies developer and operational workloads across hybrid cloud environments.

Additionally, Red Hat OpenShift provides an additional set of capabilities that enable end-users to have all the tools they need to manage their production workloads.  With features like aggregated logging, monitoring, metrics, persistent storage, and service mesh capabilities, engineers are enabled to hit the ground running. With OpenShift supporting hybrid environments, users can expect a unified set of tools across all their Kubernetes deployments, avoiding tool sprawl when addressing multi-cloud strategies.

Overall, Kubernetes is a great orchestration engine that solves a myriad of issues related to deploying containers at scale.  OpenShift takes Kubernetes the extra mile by adding the pieces necessary to get an organization production-ready.


Ready to Configure and Integrate Kubernetes?

Red Hat OpenShift is the enterprise-ready Kubernetes platform that enables organizations to deploy and manage container-based application with increased efficiency.

As organizations adopt this transformative technology, Shadow-Soft is well positioned to help in two major ways:

  • Configure, build, and manage an OpenShift platform on Azure, AWS, IBM Cloud, VMware and Bare-metal: Certified engineers with multi-platform experience can architect and integrate a technology solution based on your unique requirements
  • Integrate OpenShift: Certified engineers can integrate OpenShift with Cloud Services (AWS and Azure), development pipelines (Jenkins and Artifactory), monitoring tools (APN with Datadog), and security tools (secrets management with HashiCorp Vault).

Speak with our Technical Sales team to learn how we can help your organization with implementation and enablement services.


 

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