2021-09-22

When will Kubernetes be able to start behaving like Kubernetes?

We are very excited to publish the results from our first annual Kubernetes adoption survey. The goal of this survey is to provide both businesses and technology providers with a real-world reference point of best practices relative to their use of Kubernetes and enterprise deployments at scale. While sponsored by Spectro Cloud, the survey and resulting report was independently conducted by Dimensional Research and is based on primary data collected from 165 senior IT professionals across a variety of industries.

As you’ll see, this survey goes beyond the typical “high-level” questions we often see in similar reports around perception, challenges or adoption status - not that those are not important, but it’s objective is to also help understand current environments, issues, causes and goals. Let’s dive in…

Have it your way – If you can get it

Clearly, Kubernetes (K8s) is a CNCF open source container orchestration project and solution. It is, however, surrounded by an ecosystem of more than 1600 adjacent projects and providers, most of which aim to add value sitting on top of the core K8s stack adding OS capabilities, service meshes, load balancers, network, storage, security and more. To-date, K8s has largely been a part of DIY projects or fully, and typically overly opinionated solutions from large incumbent providers. Given the diversity of the K8s ecosystem, the DIY scenario has been faced with gluing together and maintaining these components and the opinionated solution providers have often said you can use whatever you want as long as... “it is mine”.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that 98% of the survey respondents still state that they are facing challenges with K8s and coordinating the related ecosystem. It also makes sense and is related to the fact that 77% of the respondents report using K8s for more than 2 years, only 40% report having Kubernetes-based applications in production for at least two years. This dichotomy is quite encouraging. As K8s becomes more manageable and approachable to the masses and is coordinated more efficiently across its broad and diverse ecosystem, you can still see the tremendous untapped potential it still has to offer to the market.

Kubernetes has been maturing alongside several other technology shifts. Over the last several years we have seen the growth of execution venues, or target environments. From apps being hard coded to datacenters to an explosion of private cloud stacks, public clouds, bare metal deployments and the edge locations, each providing businesses with a choice of where to deploy and manage workloads based on their business and technology priorities. This diversification of target environments has also been fueled by different types and rates of innovation across these environments – particularly the cloud. This has further accelerated this diversification with businesses perhaps changing or choosing new environments to take advantage of innovation that will give their business a competitive advantage.

Because Kubernetes’ design points are to liberate applications to run anywhere, you would not be surprised to see that 75% of the survey respondents stated that it was “vital” to be able to run Kubernetes across these diverse environments yet, to-date, Kubernetes has not been great doing this and thus we see why the 98% of the respondents that report challenges with Kubernetes, multi-cluster, multi-environment, multi-distribution coordination, linking services and security updates are among their top concerns with Kubernetes today.

K8s is (still) a balancing game between IT and Dev

Perhaps the most telling datapoint regarding where we are today with Kubernetes is the fact that “66% do not believe you can have both flexibility and usability”. This contrast between what IT teams are looking for (high availability, visibility, governance, access controls and others) and what dev teams expect (optionality to run apps wherever they need to run and quick customization and support of application-specific stacks) should really be the north star for the whole marketplace. For Kubernetes to truly see its full potential, we’ll need a new way to think about modern Kubernetes management where dev gets what they want and IT gets what they need.

I hope you find these few insights into the 2021 survey intriguing. I would encourage you to get a full copy and register for our upcoming webinar to join the discussion.