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Kubernetes, a de facto standard for managing containers, is being adopted as a platform in enterprise IT organizations at a rate that is unprecedented for any emerging technology in memory. A survey of 200 C-level executive and IT managers conducted by on behalf of Robin, a provider of a hyperconverged platform for deploying applications on top of Kubernetes, finds 50 percent of respondents are using Kubernetes in production environments.

In total, a full 92 percent of respondents expect to see significant penetration of Kubernetes at their organizations in the future, and 45 percent expect Kubernetes will be their primary data infrastructure management tool.

Over half of respondents (54 percent) are also already employing multiple approaches to deploying Kubernetes. The most widely employed platform is Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) (54 percent), a managed service provided by Microsoft, followed by on-premise deployments managed by the internal IT organization (44 percent). The next two most popular options are Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (43 percent) and Google Kubernetes Engine (41 percent), both of which are managed services.

The most interesting takeaway for managed service providers

From a managed service provider (MSP) perspective, however, the most interesting aspect of the survey is the degree to which organizations are struggling with mastering Kubernetes. Nearly half of respondent (48 percent) cited management complexity as the biggest hurdle overall to wider adoption of Kubernetes, followed by storage complexity (25 percent), and networking complexity (20 percent).

In terms of tools employed to provision Kubernetes, the most widely employed are custom scripts (44 percent), followed by Helm, a package manager developed under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation that oversees the development of Kubernetes (29 percent), manual processes (21 percent), and a third-party tool (6 percent).

Those challenges will only increase as organizations move to deploy more advanced workloads on Kubernetes, says Radhesh Menon, chief marketing officer for Robin Systems. Most of the applications deployed today using containers are stateless. More complex applications requiring databases are stateful. A total of 93 percent of respondents have deployed stateful applications on Kubernetes, but 47 percent say the ability of Kubernetes to support those applications needs to be improved. The hyperconverged software provided by Robin is designed to make it simpler to deploy complex stateful applications in an on-premises IT environment that can then be extended to invoke external cloud services as needed.

A foundational layer to hybrid cloud strategies

Most IT organizations will eventually employ Kubernetes as the foundational layer of any hybrid cloud computing strategy they will eventually adopt, according to Menon.

“Most of the usage of Kubernetes will be hybrid,” says Menon. “There are going to be a lot of spikey workloads.”

Many of those workloads will also be deployed on instance of Kubernetes running on both virtual machines and bare metal servers, further increasing the complexity of the management challenge faced by enterprise IT organizations. In addition to potentially reshaping the cloud service provider market, as hybrid cloud computing becomes more common, the rise of Kubernetes is already forcing vendors such as VMware to rethink their entire strategies. In fact, Kubernetes is one of the primary factors driving IBM’s move to acquire Red Hat for $34 billion.

MSPs at this juncture would be well advised to align their strategies to where most IT vendors are now heading. The good news for MSPs is that while it’s becoming simpler to provision Kubernetes, there is no easy button for managing it on an ongoing basis. Most IT organizations don’t have much Kubernetes expertise. It’s analogous to the early days of virtualization when few IT organizations knew how cope with virtual machines. In many cases, usage of Kubernetes is already exceeding the capabilities of internal IT organizations to manage the platform. It’s hard to imagine there ever being a better time for MSPs to fill what is a rapidly growing void.

Photo:  Peshkova / Shutterstock.



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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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