Jun. 5, 2022
Tags: k8s kubernetes tech dev

Kubernetes (often shortened to “k8s”) is a software solution which relies on containers to facilitate scaling workloads across large networks.

K8s requires specific software to be running on every node of a network, and strives to maintain a given demand by automatically scaling to demand, and recovering from application issues (healing).
The goal is to tell the network what you want to run, and let it decide where and how (unless specific directions are given). Workloads can be automatically migrated whenever some nodes encounter issues or need maintenance, and workloads can also be scaled up or down with no need to focus on where precisely the changes occur. More machines can be added or removed from the network while the job continues to get done transparently.

Developer considerations

Applications might need to be developped with K8s in mind in order to truly leverage the scaling capabilities offered.
This might include being able to load files from distributed systems (say, a S3 bucket or a remote DB instead of the local filesystem) and handling chunks rather than the whole (often leveraging messaging and queueing systems to decide what subset of the data needs to be processed). Applications also need to run inside containers, so being familiar with something like Docker really helps, especially to be comfortable separating the app into containers that are robust on their own and not dependent on each others.

See the Kubernetes blog for design considerations, as well as DigitalOcean’s article about Architecting apps for Kubernetes and RedHat’s top Design Patterns for this use case.

If you are a developer and you want applications that scale, quite a bit of learning might be required. A certification to aim for in that case would be the CKAD (Certified Kubernetes Application Developer) which focuses on giving developers the necessary information to conceptualize Kubernetes networks as a tool to run applications at scale. I cannot recommend enough Mumshad’s courses and labs on Udemy towards that goal.


Ref: K8s components

Kubernetes components

A network is comprised of one or more Master nodes (called the Control Plane), and any amount of Worker nodes.
Master nodes need to run a few different services to store the state of the network (encrypted) and decide on node and workload scheduling.
Worker nodes need to run software components which receive orders from master nodes, maintain proper networking with them, and interact with container runtimes to start/stop the apps.
All nodes which run workloads need a container runtime (a way to support running containers) such as Docker or LXC. When a node runs a workload, that workload is called a pod.
A node might run any amount of pods, depending on the size of the workload, allocations and limits, and the rest of the network.
How and where the workloads run into pods, and how pods are managed, is what Kubernetes is all about.

DevOps considerations

It is worth noting that k8s alone does not replace the need to maintain networks of nodes (often virtual machines, or VMs) at the most basic level (networking, OS, and maintenance or upgrade of Kubernetes’ software components). This is where managed solutions do a lot of the work for you (examples include Google’s Kubernetes Engine, DigitalOcean’s Kubernetes, Amazon’s EKS, Azure’s AKS).

In comparison, an in-house kubernetes requires managing master nodes carefully:

On top of that, worker nodes need to:

All of the nodes also need to:

All of this amounts to a lot of work, which is why managed solutions might offer you a certain freedom in guaranteeing things like networking, encryption, and services being up to date, so that you can then focus on simply dictating the rules of the network in terms of workload and resource allocation/limits.

Finally, the DevOps user needs to have a CLI app called kubectl which translates CLI commands into API requests (not strictly necessary, but you might get tired of making long curl calls when kubectl get nodes does the job for you). Most of the requests towards Kubernetes infrastructures will be in the form of kubectl inputs going forward.

(TBD: ASAP) I will dive further into the software components and Kubernetes’ usage.
If you want to properly learn a LOT, I strongly recommend you attempt to pass the CKA (Certified Kubernetes Administrator), which is extremely well covered in this Udemy course and labs by Mumshad here. That’s how I got certified myself.