The adoption and maturation of Kubernetes has been rapid, driven by organizations moving to cloud-native infrastructures to modernize and gain agility. The Kubernetes growth trajectory reached a climax in 2021 as The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) declared it “the year Kubernetes crossed the chasm.” The CNCF Annual Survey 2021
found that 96% of organizations were using or evaluating Kubernetes.
This adoption rate came only seven years after Google introduced Kubernetes, a cloud-native open-source container orchestration program for deploying, managing, and scaling applications. The origins of Kubernetes lie in Borg, a large-scale internal cluster management system that Google created in 2003-2004 to handle its many thousands of jobs, applications, clusters, and machines. Google was using Linux containers to package and ship its application code and dependencies, and Borg made the process more efficient, enabling Google to achieve high utilization of its data centers.
In 2013, Google replaced Borg with Omega, a flexible and scalable scheduler for large computing clusters. That year also saw the introduction of Docker, a lightweight and simple way to package, distribute, and deploy containerized applications on a machine. Docker popularized a cloud-native approach and significantly increased the use of containers. “Were it not for Docker’s shifting of the cloud developer’s perspective, Kubernetes simply would not exist,” says Brendan Burns in his Kubernetes Blog
In June 2014, Google introduced Kubernetes
as “a lean yet powerful open source container manager that deploys containers into a fleet of machines, provides health management and replication capabilities, and makes it easy for containers to connect to one another and the outside world.” From the outset, Kubernetes was designed to be an extensible and community-supported product whose source files and documentation were available on GitHub.
Kubernetes is hosted by the CNCF, which reported in August 2019
that it had become the most widely used container orchestration program with more than 3,000 active contributors, and was one of the fastest growing open-source software projects in history.
Pandemic Accelerates Adoption
The impact of COVID-19 on how we work accelerated the timeline for enterprises to move to cloud-native technologies. With its ability to speed development and deployment, Kubernetes played an increased role as businesses took advantage of containers to roll out new apps to streamline internal work and better serve customers in a fast-changing, uncertain world.
In its 2021 Kubernetes Adoption Survey, PureStorage found that 68% of respondents had increased their use of Kubernetes during the pandemic and that 89% expected Kubernetes to play a larger role in the management of their infrastructure over the next 2-3 years.
The Container Journal
reported that “cloud-native is nearing buzzword status” while citing Outsystems’ 2022 study that found that 72% of respondents believed that most of their apps would be created using cloud-native development by 2023.
AI and Kubernetes a Perfect Match
Another force driving Kubernetes adoption is the rapid maturation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). In a webinar hosted by D2iQ
, Forrester Research Principal Analyst Lee Sustar described the key role the cloud has played in making AI capabilities more accessible to a larger number of organizations.
The fact that Kubernetes and AI share so many cloud-native qualities makes them mutually supportive technologies, says Lee, explaining how Kubernetes is intersecting with AI/ML, a trend that is reflected in Forrester Research survey findings. The D2iQ 2021 Annual Report on Kubernetes in the Enterprise
found that 88% of organizations agreed that in the next two years Kubernetes would be the platform of choice for running AI and ML workloads.
The same modernization trends that are driving the private sector to adopt cloud-native Kubernetes environments are occurring in the public sector. In 2019, the U.S. federal government moved from a “Cloud First” strategy that granted federal agencies broad authority to adopt cloud-based solutions, to “Cloud Smart,” which offers those agencies practical implementation guidance.
As part of this effort, the General Services Administration (GSA) released its Container Readiness Guide in May 2021. In January 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Chief Information Officer published a memorandum
explaining that its Software Modernization Strategy
centers on “the delivery of resilient software capability at the speed of relevance” and asserting that open source software “forms the bedrock of the software-defined world and is critical in delivering software faster.”
As part of its modernization strategy, the DoD is calling for the accelerated use of AI and ML
within the U.S. military. In its Final Report
on AI adoption, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) emphasizes that, “The ability of a machine to perceive, evaluate, and act more quickly and accurately than a human represents a competitive advantage in any field—civilian or military.” Because of this, the report says, “AI technologies will be a source of enormous power for the companies and countries that harness them.”
In its report on “Scaling AI in Government
,” Deloitte notes that “the transformational potential of AI is not lost on organizations at every level of government,” with survey findings showing that 92% of federal government leaders feel that AI is important to future mission outcomes.
Edge and Serverless Show Big Gains
Among the key findings of Slashdata’s “The State of Cloud Native Development
” report is that edge computing has experienced rapid growth and now has the highest adoption rate among all surveyed sectors.
The report, which is a survey of 19,000 developers, found that among edge developers only, Kubernetes usage increased year to year by 11 percentage points to 63%. Serverless architecture also was found to be appealing to edge developers, with 48% of all edge developers reporting using serverless compared to just 33% of all backend developers.
In reporting the results of DataDog’s State of Serverless report
, InfoWorld’s David Linthicum finds that, “Containers and serverless computing will continue to explode as they work better together.”
DataDog found that more than one-half of all organizations were using serverless computing on one of the three major public cloud providers. Many of these organizations are using containers in their application development, taking advantage of serverless computing’s automated resource deployment along with Kubernetes orchestration.
Zero Trust Security Takes Hold
As the zero trust security model gains popularity, it is being applied to Kubernetes environments. As in the private sector, open source and cloud-native security is emphasized throughout the DoD Software Modernization Strategy, including the imperative that the new software capabilities “must augment and integrate with other infrastructure components to include Zero Trust Architectures (ZTA).”
As this solution brief relates, D2iQ meets all NSA Kubernetes hardening guidelines, and in a recent Container Journal article, D2iQ CTO Deepak Goel provides expert guidance on Implementing ZeroTrust on Kubernetes
Kubernetes Maturity Drives Innovation
Key takeaways from the annual CNCF Survey were that Kubernetes has gone mainstream and organizations are adopting less mature but innovative projects to tackle challenges, including monitoring and communications.
Likewise in five Kubernetes trends to watch in 2022
, author Kevin Casey writes that Kubernetes is becoming the “platform for everything” as more organizations bring their mission-critical applications to Kubernetes. Casey also points out that even though Kubernetes has matured, plenty of companies are still getting started.
One growth area, in particular, Casey notes, is the natural pairing of Kuberntes with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), which he calls a “star duo.” With Kubernetes playing a central role in next-generation infrastructure, the only thing hotter than Kubernetes, he concludes, is Kubernetes talent.
Kubernetes combines resiliency, automation, and portability with persistent storage, and as Kubernetes matures, advances are being made in support of stateful applications. In the 2022 Ionir report entitled “The Future of Stateful Applications on Kubernetes
,” 60% of respondents said they were running stateful applications on Kubernetes and, of those who were not, 50% said they planned to do so in the next 12 months.”
Cloud Native Is the Next-Generation Data Center
As more and more organizations move their mission-critical applications to Kubernetes in the cloud, these cloud-native environments are becoming the new data center. As Gartner reports
, “The cloud will be the centerpiece of new digital experiences. For businesses that means it’s time to adopt a cloud-first approach, or risk languishing in an on-premise data center.”
Similarly, 451 Group asserts that, “We are entering an era in which cloud will no longer be seen as a separate IT category: Quite simply, it is the IT.”
- “By 2025, Gartner estimates that over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021.”
- “More than 85% of organizations will embrace a cloud-first principle by 2025 and will not be able to fully execute on their digital strategies without the use of cloud-native architectures and technologies.”
In short, says Gartner, “expect cloud-native technology to be growing rapidly in the next few years, and practically everywhere by 2025.”
As mission-critical applications move to the cloud, the ability to leverage smart cloud-native technologies becomes imperative, and mastery of cloud-native technologies, including Kubernetes and AI, will separate the winners from the losers in every industry.