Kubernetes: the tech to take centre stage in 2020

After the rise in popularity of Kubernetes what can we expect in the year ahead?

This is a contributed article by Joe Baguley, VP & CTO EMEA VMware 

Make no mistake that the businesses that will survive and thrive in 2020 and years to come will be those that continuously experiment. Think Jeff Bezos advocating the need for ‘high-quality, high velocity decisions' - speed matters in business, and new ideas, new products and new strategies require a nimble and fresh approach. How to drive innovation at scale is on the minds of CIOs I speak to and, clearly, others in the industry - whether that's by better "adapting to a multi-cloud world" or "leading their organizations through a period of multiplied innovation and disruption".

Today, it simply boils down to getting applications and data into the hands of users as fast as possible. Applications are fundamental to how modern businesses work, compete and evolve. But let's be honest, when talking about modern app development and delivery we are talking about multiple data centres, traditional and cloud native applications, multiple clouds, all to be managed, all in one complex and interlinked network. Operation models must keep up with this rapidly evolving cloud architecture - and without consistency and automation, businesses simply can't function and will fall behind.

So, how can forward-looking organisations get ahead in 2020? What should CIOs looking at their cloud-native app strategy be thinking? The answer lies in a technology that is making a rapid shift from the darkest reaches of IT into broader business parlance as it takes a central role in driving and managing application innovation - Kubernetes.

But let's take a step back for a moment. Understanding the capabilities of Kubernetes - a technology for running, automating and managing containers must start by understanding the role it can play in helping CIOs evolve the business.

Kubernetes - far more than a technical buzzword - is a crucial part of the modern management story within our changing landscape of app build and delivery. In fact, did you know, Kubernetes is Greek for ‘helmsman' and the origin of the word governor, so this technology really is the governor of the infrastructure.

What makes Kubernetes so compelling is that it was made to allow your IT team to manage and orchestrate thousands of containers. It is fundamental to building modern apps in a multi-cloud world - acting as the foundation to manage and scale cloud native applications and ensure an open consistent developer experience across multiple cloud environments. And understanding Kubernetes also requires understanding the fundamentals behind how modern apps are built. It used to be that applications were built as monoliths, but unfortunately, monoliths tend to not scale very well and often also have availability issues. An example is Twitter. You used to hear about Twitter outages every time there was a big celebrity event where lots of people tweeting. You don't hear about that anymore. It's because Twitter adopted a new way of architecting their application: Microservices.

Think of Netflix, its meteoric rise to the world's leading internet entertainment service. This simply wouldn't be possible with monolithic databases and apps. It is only through microservices that it has succeeded, with growth in container use at Netflix exceeding three million containers a week in 2018.

The rise of microservices and Kubernetes is fundamentally allowing a more agile way for teams to experiment, fail fast and the same time to find out the right and wrong bits of applications to put in containers!

This is the very heart of innovation in today's multi-cloud world, and where automating the deployment process for managing containers enables businesses to save money, ensure scalability, improve efficiency and free up IT teams from maintenance-based tasks.

In the long term, we believe that Kubernetes can be applied to so much more than just containers and VMs. We predict that many vendors will start to offer the whole Kubernetes stack to customers and help them to apply it to other areas to scale their business.

It's about knowing how organisations want to consume Kubernetes. Some might want a simple version, others will require a more integrated solution, and some will want Kubernetes as a service that's managed in the cloud, and so all of these options need to be factored in.

We're only just starting to see the impact this technology can have on businesses. In 2020, we will continue to see the growth and diversification of Kubernetes as industries across sectors continue to adopt this technology. Enterprises need to make the most out of their existing infrastructure, helping them transition from where they are to where they need to be, and future-ready for the next technology frontier.

Kubernetes trends for 2020

Breaking down silos

Despite how effective Kubernetes is at enabling businesses to drive their business transformation initiatives forward, we still see barriers to widespread adoption. In 2020, we will see organisations taking steps to breaking the most common barrier: existing processes and siloed teams.

Savvy organisational leaders know that the crucial first step is to understand how to bridge the gaps between different teams in their organisation. That might be between developers and operations, or it might be between IT and a commercial function. It's also about encouraging technical people to talk to, and empathise with, sales and marketing or vice versa. Kubernetes can help deliver these consistent operations, so that IT teams no longer need to be spending time pushing buttons or fighting fires - freeing them up to build and deploy softer skills for business success.

Enabling the development of modern apps

Kubernetes has emerged as this ubiquitous infrastructure that can connect developers and IT operators. In 2020, we will see more business leaders acknowledging Kubernetes as the key to the future of their infrastructure and software development goals, enabling them to capitalise on the growing customer demand for a Kubernetes platform.

We've already seen Kubernetes helping many organisations to enrich the developer, or even citizen experience. Abu Dhabi Government, for example, has enhanced its digital solutions to support a unified government services platform. The expected outcome is to streamline and enhance the experience of citizens. Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA), the authority that oversees the development of Abu Dhabi's government services, is consolidating over 1,600 government services into 80 end-end user journeys that cover everything from buying a house to medical insurance. This has all been underpinned by effective advanced container networking and Kubernetes cluster management.

In 2020, technology companies will have to keep adapting with their customers as they embark on their multi-cloud journey. Moving into open-source, and creating a strong culture of innovation and engineering, is what we believe will help CIOs innovate and allow for further experimentation in the years to come.

Embracing Kubernetes

Kubernetes is fundamental for innovation in our multi-cloud world, and we are seeing more organisations embrace this technology. Having Kubernetes at the core of your operations, and for the management of multiple containers, VMs and more, is absolutely vital to allow a culture of experimentation to thrive.

2020 will be the year that large organisations embrace Kubernetes, the foundation for management success in our multi-cloud world.