Kubernetes – why you need to keep up with IT’s new age

I’m not exactly known for being a hippy, but I think we’re at the dawn of a new age, driven by container technology, led by Kubernetes.

In this piece, I want to draw on a recent Kubernetes forum we held for IT leaders from big organisations. They were there because they wanted to get ahead of the curve on this new era. From C-level down, people are asking for education on the topic, sometimes concerned they’re already falling behind the times.

But there’s no need to feel intimidated by Kubernetes, or by what you think you should already know. Whatever you think, you’re on your journey, and this blog aims to plug you into the ‘new age’ and show how you’re probably already a part of it…

Why Kubernetes?

‘What is it and does it really work?’ This was something I heard a couple of times in the room. Containers and Kubernetes technologies became popular in 2017, embedding themselves into the software development processes for many companies, largely because of their ability to deliver on the promise of infrastructure as code, accelerate the time taken to deliver products to market and, in some cases, reduces costs.

Kubernetes provides enterprise grade management and orchestration of container environments.  Containers, like their virtual machine predecessors can sprawl quickly across any environment. Keeping standard configurations, everything secure, optimised and cost effective is critical for containers to flourish especially if IT wants and become the panacea of DevOps enabling…   While there are many container orchestration tools such as Docker Swarm and Mesos, Kubernetes through its support from the likes of Google and its Github status is currently winning the managed containerisation battle.

The advantages of containers over virtual machines include their smaller size and quicker speeds, but also how they support all development and production requirements. This greater agility is helping many customers when it comes to introducing new products and services or optimising internal processes.

A further advantage is its ability to be fairly agnostic in terms of running any application on any cloud, including private clouds, AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform – making it easier to migrate from one cloud vendor to another.

If this sounds like a brave new world, then stick with me, because there’s a chance your organisation is already using Kubernetes and containers…Please make an appointment with your development teams first!

The future is already here

One of the big themes that came up at our event was the notion of this great lT leap forward ‘happening in pockets’. As one guest said, “You don’t need to migrate the monolith all at once,” while another commented, “You can’t rebuild and move everything overnight. But you don’t need to refactor whole services when you break it down into microservices and containerise.”

Every business has a different integration and deployment pipeline (CD/CI), but Kubernetes and the microservices approach is made for identifying test and research cases, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

If this isn’t happening with IT’s knowledge, then it’s likely happening in a shadow IT capacity. Some parts of the organisation may have already realised they can’t help but engage with the new system. As one delegate said, “Because most of the new tech we look at only runs on containers, you can’t consume it unless you’re running containers.”

But when it comes to bringing this piece of tech out of the shadows, there was a consensus that you’ll need a robust business case which considers business impact and avoids the ‘everyone else is doing it’ argument.

Selling the future upwards

All our IT leaders agreed that the main question when seeking organisational buy-in will be around justifying the upfront costs. A lot of delegates talked about the complexity and cost of set up, with one contributor saying, “There is a cost realisation from going down this road. You need to pin down the future savings you’ll make from the upfront costs,” another adding, “You need the right reasons for your organisation.”

One business at the forum had an IT team that ‘charged’ internal customers. They had to have a clear story on how they could save resources backed by robust metrics, and how they were going to integrate new capabilities into existing price structures. Another delegate mentioned using Kubernetes to end the annual patching of Windows, which consumed months of time and effort.

You may also get asked What are we going to do about our legacy apps if we move to Containers & Kubernetes? The consensus seemed to be that legacy considerations shouldn’t be a barrier. The favoured approach was letting apps run down and expire in their own time. You don’t need to tackle everything at once, just be ready to put replacement apps onto the new architecture when the time comes. The mantra ‘this can happen in pockets’, springs to mind again.

Don’t panic, but you probably need to think about the next step

Because of the big demand we’re seeing for education and expertise to keep up with the latest developments, we’ve recently launched a Managed Kubernetes service which enables our customers to reap the benefits of containers by leveraging the expertise of Rackspace. We are one of the founders of Openstack so the move to Containers and Kubernetes is a natural evolution. Part of our learning here will be to understand exactly where businesses need help on their journey. We’d love to hear from you to help us shape this offer, helping businesses like yours get the most from this new age.

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Before joining Rackspace as EMEA Chief Technology Officer, Lee gathered his experience developing and delivering industry leading cloud, analytics and SAP services for global organisations, culminating in an innovation award for building BP’s first multi-cloud platform. As part of the Betfair team he was responsible for the delivery of a Devops driven platform that performed more transactions than all the European stock markets each day. Lee recently moved into IT services and using his experience he has delivered global cloud transformations, advanced analytics platforms and cloud inspired organisational transformation for a number of major organisations. At Rackspace, Lee is responsible for helping our customers maximise their cloud investments across people, process and technology as well developing new Rackspace products and services. Lee is a proud father of four, and you may well find him managing an under 12 football team, striking a golf ball in random directions and partaking in Rugby League matches.

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