What is Kubernetes exactly?

Everyone working in cloud tech talks about it, but many people are in need of a basic 101. So: what is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is a portable, open-source container structure that allows users to automate enterprises’ container procedures. Teams can automate application deployment, scaling, processes, and management. This makes it much easier for businesses to manage their containers. Kubernetes was originally designed by Google; today, it is overseen by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. 

Why is Kubernetes so important?

Because it has the power to knock out a multitude of manual operations used to scale and deploy applications with containers, freeing up time for teams to focus on other aspects of business. Kubernetes gives users the power to conveniently and precisely regulate and oversee clusters of bundled hosts operating in containers. These clusters can reach varied hosts including public, private, and even hybrid clouds, safely. In short, if you want to efficiently manage containers, Kubernetes is essential. 

Key features of Kubernetes include: 

  • Additional servers are able to be both added and taken out. 
  • Regularly adjusts operating containers, through referencing alternative application metrics. 
  • A replication controller which monitors clusters to ensure they have an equivalent number of pods operating. 
  • In addition, the pod will remove extra pods, or add more based on how many are operating to ensure they are balanced. 
  • Oversees how both nodes and containers are running to prevent crashes. 
  • Able to repair the pods or containers to prevent breakdowns. 
  • Route traffic to the suitable containers. 

Consequently, Kubernetes is the optimal system for accommodating cloud-native applications that demand accelerated scaling. It is able to reduce cloud costs through providing clusters with constant resources. In addition, Kubernetes is automated. Therefore, the system eliminates the manual scaling and deploying aspect, resulting in more time for businesses to utilize.

How can I get started with Kubernetes?

Learn how to create and delete Kubernetes clusters

A variety of cloud providers provide a managed offering that will let you create your own Kubernetes cluster.  To learn about cluster creation, you can start with workflows in the cloud provider’s web user interface.  As provisioned resources will eventually incur costs, you should also learn how to delete the cluster when you are done using it.   You can start with creation and deletion of Kubernetes clusters via the cloud provider’s web user interface, and when you are confident you can do the same via automation  – cloud provider command line tools (e.g. eksctl for AWS EKS), or other automation tools such as terraform.

Download, configure, and use the kubectl command line tool on the machine that you use to to interface with Kubernetes and perform some basic commands such as:

kubectl get nodes

kubectl get namespaces

kubectl get gives you a list.  kubectl describe gives you the details. You should follow the kubectl instructions given by your cloud provider as there will be some cloud specific instructions required to connect your local kubectl process to the Kubernetes cluster API.

Learn the basics of deploying containers

Create your first learning Kubernetes container as a Kubernetes Pod.  If you are on your own learning Kubernetes cluster, for ease of learning you can ignore considering Kubernetes Namespaces and just work out of the default Kubernetes Namespace.

Learn how to use kubectl logs to dump the logs of your container.  Useful for troubleshooting from outside the container.

Learn how to use kubectl exec to log into your container.  You may need this for troubleshooting from within the container.

Learning how to deploy Kubernetes Pods is a good foundation, but for better control over the desired state of your Pods, learn how to deploy your Pods via a Kubernetes Deployment.    

Learn how to scale the number of Kubernetes Pod replicas in your Kubernetes Deployment with kubectl scale.

While there is a lot more to learn in all areas of Kubernetes, we hope this list gives you a practical, hands-on, self-study guide towards your Kubernetes journey!

For more, read our article: What are cloud containers?