Kubernetes has been growing at an unprecedented pace. Organizations big and small from enterprises and SMEs to scaleups and startups are using it in production. This is backed up by various surveys both from CNCF as well as technology research firms and vendors in the Kubernetes space.
Here at Replex, we wanted to peer behind these numbers into what production usage really means for Kubernetes. We also wanted to see what is driving Kubernetes adoption, what obstacles organizations overcame while adopting Kubernetes, and which ones they still face in production.
Our survey was conducted over the course of three conferences in 2019: KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2019, O’Reilly Velocity Conference in San Jose and ContainerDays in Hamburg. Upwards of 130 developers, DevOps, SREs, operations, CIOs, CTOs and technology leaders participated.
65% of survey respondents indicated Kubernetes usage in production. This number is even higher (72%) among organizations with teams of 100 or more developers. Additionally, 40% of the respondents not yet using Kubernetes in production intend to do so within the year.
In spite of these high production numbers, however, Kubernetes has a pretty narrow deployment footprint; 60% of organizations deploy less than a quarter of their workloads using Kubernetes.
One reason for this might be simply the fact that organizations are still pretty early in their cloud-native journeys. Additionally, the cloud-native space is still maturing with new solutions for HA, disaster recovery, storage, security and governance being introduced every day.
Scalability, resource utilization and cost savings are at the very core of the public cloud value proposition. They are also the top two reasons organizations identify as having driven their Kubernetes adoption; 61% of respondents indicate improving scalability as the main reason for adopting Kubernetes, 46% indicate improving utilization.
Concerns about utilization rise as infrastructure footprint increases; 65% of organizations with upwards of 100 developers cite improving utilization as the main reason for adopting Kubernetes. This backs up numerous studies which have shown that the cloud becomes increasingly more expensive at scale. The survey results indicate that organizations are still on the lookout for tools to improve utilization and scale quickly.
The survey also identifies a fundamental disconnect in the way organizations that have already adopted Kubernetes and the ones that have not, rank the relative difficulty of obstacles to Kubernetes adoption. For example, companies using Kubernetes in production rank complexity much higher (43%), as compared to the ones not yet using Kubernetes in production (18%).
Since things always make more sense in hindsight, we tend to lean towards the point of view of those companies that are already using Kubernetes in production.
The fact that so many companies are misdiagnosing obstacles gives us more insight into why so many adoption attempts end in failure. It also drives home the importance of devising a comprehensive and well thought out adoption plan that correctly identifies challenges and charts out a way of dealing with them.
Companies already in production have a new set of challenges to contend with. Security (49%), logging and monitoring (37%) and cost visibility and reporting (35%) are the top three challenges identified here.
Additionally, 58% of the respondents either do not know or do not have a cost reporting mechanism for Kubernetes. This points to the difficulty most DevOps teams face when asked to peer through the multiple abstraction layers that Kubernetes introduces.
It is often difficult to figure out who is using which resources, how much that resource usage costs and co-relate that usage with the costs of the underlying infrastructure. Having to showback and chargeback those costs adds another level of complexity. The same is true of departments, teams, or clients using Kubernetes where some degree of cost insights are important for chargeback and governance purposes.
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