The State of Enterprise Kubernetes

As we kick off the new year, it’s the perfect time for a fresh start and a shift in perspectives. With this in mind, in the latter part of 2023 we joined forces with Dzone and surveyed software developers, architects, and other IT pros seeking to refresh our understanding of the state of Kubernetes adoption across enterprises. The result? Our comprehensive report, Kubernetes in the Enterprise. Here, we’ll take you through some of the standout insights that shed light on the current landscape of containers, examine the pros and cons of Kubernetes, and uncover innovative practices that are reshaping the industry. Ready to let data be your guiding light for the year ahead? Let’s dive in!

The Current State of Containers and Container Orchestration

Survey says, containerization has reached a saturation point. According to the report, container usage has surged to 88% of respondents using application containers in either development or production environments.

One interesting finding is that as company size increases, so does the likelihood of container adoption. The most likely reason is a skills gap. Smaller organizations (<100 employees) need to be more efficient and so they are less likely to expend the resources they need to successfully manage and orchestrate containers. As we look into larger organizations with more than 100 employees, the report found that 99% are using containers in development or production.

Due to the increase in adoption, organizations are seeking tools for container management and orchestration. In dev environments, Docker is most popular, but in production environments the report found that Kubernetes is king. With this in mind, we wanted to dive deeper in the role Kubernetes plays among organizations. Take a look at the graph below:

Kubernetes is driving innovation. From hybrid/multi-cloud, to new cloud native apps and modernizing existing apps, Kubernetes usage is a common thread, which is no surprise. Which brings us to the pros and cons.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Kubernetes

There are several other reasons why Kubernetes is gaining traction in the enterprise. The platform offers a rich feature set, out of the box, so developers can quickly set up and manage containers. Because it’s open-source, development is driven by community members whose extensions, tools and services enhance Kubernetes and make it more powerful. Kubernetes is also compatible with most standard programming languages and operating systems, so adoption doesn’t require an overhaul.

Enterprises can leverage Kubernetes for:

  • Serverless computing: Knative (kn), recently introduced by the CNCF, abstracts Kubernetes as Serverless computing, eliminating repetitive configuration and build tasks, and threatening to disrupt on-premises serverless options for building event-based architecture.
  • Big data processing and stateful data services in data science and machine learning (ML) tech stacks: Containers on Kubernetes enable the flexible deployment of big data software without the complexity and high overhead of traditional data cluster setups. Instead, Kubernetes leverages on-demand GPU/CPU compute resources for ML processing.
  • Sophisticated container-based cluster federation: Using Kubernetes, organizations can combine a hybrid or multi-cloud setup into a single platform. This enables them to avoid vendor lock-in by providing flexibility around hybrid and multi-cloud clusters.
  • DevOps enablement: Kubernetes can be used alongside open source tools such as Helm IaC, Grafana telemetry dashboard and alerting, and Prometheus metric ingester to assist with operations.

We asked respondents what’s improved and worsened since deploying Kubernetes clusters.

The most commonly reported improvements cited include:

  • 75% said “Deployment in general”
  • 62% said “Autoscaling”
  • 54% said “CI/CD”
  • 49% said said “Application modularity”
  • 48% said “Building microservices” 
  • 48% said “Reliability”

The most commonly reported disadvantage was cost, although only 26% of respondents reported this as an issue.

So what are the key pain points? Here’s what we learned:

  • Performance tuning (60%)
  • Maintaining YAML files (55%)
  • Learning or using Helm (45%)
  •  Security (44%)

Contributor Insights

DZone’s report includes multiple contributed articles from industry experts that provide insights on Kubernetes topics and trends. For example, Yitaek Hwang, Software Engineer at NYDIG, explores the debate between self-managed and managed Kubernetes platforms. Next, Saurabh Dashora, Software Architect at Progressive Coder, took a deep dive into the topic of Cloud Native Architecture for Modern Applications, with a focus on how these technologies enable developers to build, deploy and manage cloud native applications at scale.

Optimizing Kubernetes Costs with FinOps Best Practices

One of the contributors to the report, Sudip Sengupta, Technical Writer at Javelynn, offered a look into the multifaceted complexities of a distributed Kubernetes ecosystem and associated costs. He discussed the recommended FinOps practices that enable seamless integration of Kubernetes costs into the overarching financial and operational frameworks.

Costs, he says, arise for various reasons, including the inherent complexities of a Kubernetes environment, the need to distribute clusters across multiple regions and cloud providers, compliance and security, and more. To control these costs, Sengupta recommends increasing your visibility.

Sengupta also recommends aligning overarching key performance indicators (KPIs) with granular system metrics such as CPU usage, memory allocation, and I/O operations. These metrics not only indicate system performance but also translate into quantifiable costs.

How Zenseact Reduces Costs and Saves Time

Our favorite story is about automotive software vendor, Zenseact, a Volvo company, who accelerated innovation in the area of self-driving by streamlining Kubernetes backup management with Kasten K10, Veeam’s solution for secure and reliable Kubernetes data and application backup and recovery. Zenseact has deployed Kasten K10 across roughly 60 nodes, with about 1.5 petabytes of NVME-based storage, and uses Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage along with Dell Isilon S3 to store the backups and a bare metal cluster for OpenShift. Using Kasten K10, the company is able to perform automatic backups and save about 150 hours per month on backup management.

Finally, at the end of the report, you’ll find an array of recommended resources for diving deeper into the topic of Kubernetes, and an extensive solutions directory listing various solutions for improving the developer experience with the Kubernetes platform.

Dive Deeper

Now that you’ve read the highlights, download the Enterprise Kubernetes Report to learn all the metrics and details we uncovered in our research.

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