Kubernetes (K8s) is now the container orchestration tool of choice. Whilst there are still alternatives, e.g. Docker Swarm, Kubernetes is undoubtedly the golden child of the industry. As a result, there is a wealth of information available covering everything from the basics of what K8s is and how it works, case studies outlining the successes of early adopters, through to in-depth and highly technical tutorials for executing specific tasks within a cluster.
Even as Kubernetes becomes more widely used however, there is one topic which is often overlooked. What do people actually want from Kubernetes?
What kind of projects are companies hoping to use it for? Which features do developers want the most? What is currently lacking? Although many businesses may aspire to learn from industry-leaders like Netflix or Spotify who were among the first to adopt Kubernetes, their use cases aren’t going to be relatable or comparable to how the majority of companies will be considering using the tech.
Asking the Questions
That’s why we decided to conduct some of our own research whilst developing our End to End Kubernetes service. In this post we’re going to review the findings we uncovered when we asked “So, what is it that you actually want from Kubernetes?”
Who did we ask?
We reached out to people who had already registered an interest in Kubernetes at Bytemark. After a couple of months, we had spoken to 23 people from a variety of backgrounds.
Some were freelance consultants, others worked for organisations with 100+ employees. Our respondents also included founders, developers, sysadmins and CEOs.
So we were happy that we’d gained insight from a sufficiently broad range of people.
Of course, creating a research sample in this way isn’t perfect…
- A positive: Kubernetes is complicated. Speaking only to people who have registered an interest in the tool implies a certain level of understanding of what K8s does that was needed for this research.
- A negative: The findings will be, well… ‘Bytemark-y’. Speaking only to people who are aware of, and interested in, a Bytemark Kubernetes service means our respondents were likely more similar than a random group of 22 people who are generally aware of Kubernetes, but not of Bytemark. There’s also a chance then, that how they plan to use K8s is also more similar.
But as the purpose of this research was to learn more about the use of Kubernetes beyond the corporate early adopters, rather than to form any statistically significant conclusions, the findings still provide some valuable insight.
What did they say?
There were three main topics we asked each person about:
- How much they knew about Kubernetes
- The features they would look for in a Kubernetes service
- How they thought Kubernetes could help them to achieve their goals
Some of their comments were what you may expect – when asked about how K8s could help their business, many referenced efficiency, scalability and reliability.
“…would provide improved reliability, security and development…”
“…an interesting tech that could help business perform at scale…”
“…potentially cost-efficient if the service includes manager nodes…”
These are all frequently cited as some of the key benefits of Kubernetes. It follows then that they are they are the benefits potential users expect to gain. However, we also uncovered some findings which contradict some assumptions about Kubernetes.
First things first…
Most people still aren’t that familiar with Kubernetes
Just over half (52%) of those asked about their familiarity with Kubernetes had never worked with the tool themselves.
Given all the coverage that Kubernetes gets, it’s easy to assume that we have already entered the mass adoption stage of container technologies. But our research demonstrates that this is not the case for the majority of organisations. Awareness of Kubernetes is definitely on the rise, but there’s still a big jump between those who are aware of and understand K8s and those who are actually running it in production.
This also means that organisations who are in a position to start taking advantage of Kubernetes still have a brilliant opportunity to gain a competitive edge in their industry. The enduring potential of K8s was consistently mentioned as a reason our survey respondents were interested in the tool, with one commenting,
“We’re an agency, so [we’re] constantly looking to improve our tech stack and stay ahead of the curve on behalf of our clients.”
Understanding the reasons why Kubernetes adoption isn’t higher in 2019 leads us nicely onto our next finding…
Most people aren’t even ready to use Kubernetes
When we asked our respondents which specific features they would be interested in as part of a Kubernetes service, there were three standout choices. Overall, people were mostly looking for help with:
- Rearchitecting applications from monoliths to microservices (52.2%)
- Building and deploying a Kubernetes solution tailored to their requirements (56.5%)
- Ongoing 24/7 operations support (52.2%)
Microservices are a prerequisite for Kubernetes. Our results indicate that at least 56% of the people we spoke to still have legacy applications which don’t use a microservices architecture. When you see the numbers it paints a clearer picture of why mainstream Kubernetes adoption hasn’t yet taken off.
Looked at as a whole, the top three features chosen are also interesting as they highlight that people want support with Kubernetes at every level. There’s demand for a service that helps with the preparation (transition to microservices), set up (building and deploying), and then maintenance (24/7 ops support) of a Kubernetes solution.
An End to End Kubernetes Service is Essential
Reviewing all of our findings, there was one clear theme – the majority of people need more assistance with Kubernetes than out of the box services offer.
The projects and goals they were hoping to accomplish with Kubernetes were all unique to their business cases. Some had very specific plans like replacing their dedicated mailserver, while others had long-term strategies to build and scale a new platform. One respondent openly admitted that they weren’t sure how they would use Kubernetes, but they were keen to learn more.
So, to answer the original question of what people actually want from a Kubernetes service in one word. Support.
As to the reason why, this comes back to the complexity of Kubernetes. Although the benefits are enticing it is difficult to set up a Kubernetes solution that really works for you, especially if you’ve never done it before.
At Bytemark, we’ve taken all of this research on board and are committed to helping organisations reap the benefits of K8s. As part of our fully managed, end-to-end Kubernetes service, our experts will work in partnership with you to establish your goals and strategise how Kubernetes can help you to achieve them. Then we can build a custom Kubernetes solution with all the features you need. From application re-architecture to ongoing cluster monitoring, we’re here to help. Learn more and register your interest.