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Five years ago, the word Kubernetes rang familiar to no one. Fast forward to today and it’s become one of the most well-known container management systems across the globe. Its popularity has grown so much that it’s been recently declared the leading system in the “war for container orchestration dominance” by Forrester in its 2018 cloud predictions.

As it stands, almost 4,000 organisations across the world use Kubernetes, and CIOs within every industry consider it to be the management system of choice – especially when dealing with DevOps. It has seen such success that many of the major cloud providers, such as Microsoft and Amazon, have integrated it into their application infrastructure.

So how has a relatively early-stage system moved so quickly, to the point where all major tech organisations have taken notice?

Tech industry’s influence on Kubernetes

Developed as an open source project by Google in 2014, Kubernetes immediately benefitted from its creator’s heritage of employing the world’s best talent and its legacy of experience around providing software services at a large scale. This combination of expertise and support allowed Kubernetes to develop at an unmatched pace and eventually overtake major competitors within the space.

But it wasn’t just Google’s legacy that led to the rapid growth of the system. Kubernetes brought with it major benefits including its accessibility through major cloud providers like Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform. Being hosted and supported by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and The Linux Foundation also proved valuable. Association with both foundations helped the system gain credibility through its ability to continually improve through best practices and contributions from members, including SAP, AWS, SUSE, Google and more.

With such widespread support across the industry, Kubernetes eventually sparked the interest of enterprise vendors, which ultimately led it to where it is today – being a central component of innovation within the space.

Technology behind the success

Industry associations are not the only reason Kubernetes has seen such success. It has created simplicity when dealing with container management. It groups application containers into straight forward “packages” for simple management and discovery – while simultaneously automating the deployment and scaling of containerised applications. And with 70 per cent of all IT leaders looking to make an investment in containers within the next few years, it’s likely that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its full potential.

Unlike many competitors, Kubernetes also has the added benefit of being able to marry the ease of Platform-as-a-Service for developers with the adaptability of Infrastructure-as-a-Service to move workloads across providers. This flexibility has made it ideal for the current hybrid environment as many of today’s organisations use a combination of cloud and on-premise data centres.

The flexibility of Kubernetes means that in can be implemented across both types of data centres, or even run as a service, which is one of the main reasons why it’s so popular among DevOps. Because it does not rely on one particular infrastructure over the other, DevOps teams are able to build applications and then use Kubernetes to deploy them as easily in the organisation’s data centre as they would in the public cloud.

A match made in the cloud

The traditional approach to DevOps can be relatively complex. Though the ultimate goal is to make the same application, the problem often lies with the fact that both Dev and Ops work in completely different ways. This disconnect often results in a long development process and a slower time to market.

Luckily, Kubernetes simplifies DevOps as it allows developers to package their applications into containers and be certain that the apps will process as well in production environments as they would anywhere else. The platform removes a level of work for developers, specifically removing the need for them to spend time on scripting specific deployment, scaling and updating workflows. Because this is all done automatically – especially when put together with application platform technologies – there’s no need for developer input.

Developers across the world have already started to see tangible success metrics when it comes to Kubernetes. One great example is in the case of Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics. Faced with a website that had become quite cumbersome and time-consuming in its processing, the company needed a way to accelerate and become more agile in delivering its products and solution. Fast forward to today and it is working with rapid speeds, enabling it to make customer discoveries faster than ever before.

The uptake in Kubernetes is not without reason, and it’s more than likely that it will continue to drive innovation across industries well into the future. Those organisations that look to accelerate application delivery with containerised and cloud workloads will see immediate benefits in terms of flexibility, speed and adaptability – but that’s only the beginning. As it continues to evolve in its own development, it’s likely we’ll see the delivery of many generations of the ground-breaking container management system.

To learn more about containerized infrastructure and cloud native technologies, consider coming to KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Barcelona, May 20-23 in Barcelona.

This is a contributed column, please join our contributory program to submit your insights and analysis.

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Dr Thomas di Giacomo
Dr. Thomas Di Giacomo is President of Engineering, Product and Innovation at SUSE.