The Standards Blog

Guest Post: An Intro For Beginners - What is Kubernetes & How to Get Started With It

Open Source/Open Standards

By Ashley Lipman

Kubernetes%20130.pngMany people have heard of Kubernetes, but don’t know when or where to use it or even what it’s functionality is. Docker users may be more familiar with the program, but still unsure how to make that transition into using Kubernetes.

In this article, we’ll take a beginner’s approach to what Kubernetes is and how to start using it. This information will give you a high-level overview of the program and highlight some key considerations.

What is Kubernetes?

If your website starts getting a lot of traffic and needs to scale up quickly, you need to be able to handle the growth beyond the capabilities of Docker for using containers. Kubernetes is a platform that you can build upon, which assists with the automation of container deployment, scaling your servers, and essentially handling and monitoring everything in your application or site. It is an integrative service that can send logs to other platforms, like Loggly’s log management service for a more in-depth approach to monitoring. It can also work with public cloud platforms, like Google Cloud.

Kubernetes was implemented by Google a mere four years ago and has quickly become an integral tool as we move toward going serverless in a cloud-driven world. What was once a tool for large organizations is now a valuable asset for small startups.

How Does Kubernetes Work?

In Kubernetes you have a master node, also known as the Kubernetes Master. The Kubernetes Master is a part of a cluster. The cluster knows of various servers that you have created, and will give you direction for sending deployments of containers. To deploy, you build criteria in Kubernetes, and it will create a deployment. For example, you might determine exactly how much file storage you require for this deployment, and Kubernetes manages this for your app.

In terms of monitoring, Kubernetes goes beyond the initial deployment of your container. If something goes awry and causes your application to crash, Kubernetes will use the information you’ve provided to try and correct it automatically by creating another container.

As previously mentioned, you can also use Kubernetes for scaling. Rather than creating multiple servers for single containers, Kubernetes acts as your project manager, reading your modified deployments and putting them in the place that fits best.

Terminology to Know When Starting

In addition to knowing the basic functionality of Kubernetes, it’s important to know the jargon associated with the platform. After all, how can you be expected to understand what you’re doing if you don’t know the words for it? Here are some of the key terms to know when using Kubernetes:

Pods: Pods are collections of containers that operate in conjunction with one another, and the most basic unit for scheduling in the Kubernetes framework. Pods are ideal for containers that need to be scheduled together in a node, as it provides a streamlined alternative to conducting repetitive scheduling tasks. Rather than directly using the pods, Kubernetes users work at a higher level, focusing on objects that use pods within their operations.

Services: The service component of Kubernetes allows users to create logical pod formations and keep the functionality of the system balanced. Ultimately, a service does what the name implies: provides you a service by granting easy access to pods and helps create a bridge between the pods and other applications. Deploying a service can help users create a pathway between internal and external functions.

Etcd: The etcd is a configuration store that can be used across multiple nodes. It’s one of the most integral aspects of Kubernetes for beginners to learn, as it can be used for service discovery, distributed locking, and leader election. Basically, it provides a simple approach to what would otherwise be a complex task.

Getting Started

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not about using Kubernetes over Docker-- it’s about using them together for the best possible container orchestration to improve your applications. Take the time to learn the basics of Kubernetes and your enterprise will reap the benefits.

Ashley Lipman is an award-winning writer providing creative solutions for building brands online. 

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