Rapid Kubernetes Growth Creates Some Pain

Survey results show increased Kubernetes use, but challenges remain

A survey of 500 attendees at the recent KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2019 Europe conference finds that nearly half the respondents (47%) are now running an instance of Kubernetes in a production environment. Another 29 percent are in the process of building out a production environment, according to the survey.

Conducted by Platform9, a provider of managed hosting services, the survey also finds that well over half the respondents (59%) have opted to deploy an instance of Kubernetes in an on-premises IT environment. In terms of public clouds, the most widely cited platforms were Amazon Web Services (AWS) at 51%, followed by Google Cloud Platform (GCP) at 29% and Microsoft Azure at 25%.

The survey also find that the tools most widely adopted as add-ons for Kubernetes environments are open source Prometheus container monitoring software (57%), followed by Elasticsearch, Fluent Bit and Kibana (EFK) logging tools, at 29%.

The top two use cases for Kubernetes are continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) platforms within the context of a DevOps environment (77%), followed by modernizing legacy applications and automating application operations, at 50% each.

Kamesh Pemmaraju, head of product marketing for Platform9, says now that more instances of Kubernetes are showing up in production environments, more organizations are paying attention to challenging issues such as how to manage Kubernetes. The survey finds the top challenges organizations are struggling with as they deploy Kubernetes are operational complexity (50%), migrating legacy applications (40%), access to IT talent (38%) and data management (33%).

Pemmaraju says that, based on the behavior of its customers, each team within an organization is setting up its own Kubernetes cluster versus creating one large multi-tenant implementation. There’s a potential risk for Kubernetes sprawl in the future, but for the moment it’s relatively simple for organizations to dedicate a cluster to run a single set of applications, he says. Whether that’s a result of a lack of process control or an intended consequence is difficult to determine.

Despite the number of instances of Kubernetes running in a production environment, the percentage of workloads running on Kubernetes is relatively slight compared to legacy IT environments. Nevertheless, it’s clear Kubernetes is starting to gain momentum. In fact, as it is deployed more pervasively, the easier it should become for IT organizations to build and maintain a truly hybrid cloud computing environment.

In the meantime, the challenge going forward is turning Kubernetes into a platform that a mere mortal IT administrator can manage, rather than software that requires an engineer to deploy and maintain. As long as the bar to managing such environments remains comparatively high, the number of organizations that can deploy and manage Kubernetes at scale will remain relatively slight. Arguably, the biggest challenge any emerging technology in the enterprise faces is overcoming the inertia that results from IT teams simply being too busy to learn how to master a new platform.

Of course, there’s no shortage of IT services providers willing to manage Kubernetes on behalf of a customer. However, while that approach is increasingly becoming more appealing, the survey makes it clear there are still many organizations that want to deploy Kubernetes in an on-premises IT environment.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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