When startups should adopt Kubernetes and when it’s not a good idea?

Mar 22, 2021 · 5 min read

Your business might be a small startup right now but you want it to grow. If so, you certainly fall into Kubernetes, the powerful container-orchestration system that is perfect for any project that needs to scale quickly.

Kubernetes, also known as K8s, is the next big wave in cloud computing. Businesses use it to migrate their infrastructure and adopt microservice architecture to succeed in the cloud-native era.

This container orchestration system was initially developed by Google. Now it’s an open-source project developed by a community, with several new libraries and plugins (called operators) contributed by third parties.

K8s has become one of the recommended systems for startups to run their distributed software applications. In this guide, I’ll outline some of the top reasons why Kubernetes is so popular and explain when startups should or shouldn't use it.

What is Kubernetes used for?

Being a startup you strive to innovate fast. Your team rolls out new features, collects feedback from users, and introduces changes until you find your product-market fit. And right after your application gains traction, you should get ready for explosive growth.

The startup’s lifecycle requires a software architecture that enables agility and the ability to scale. Containerized micro-services seem the best option. However, when a development team has thousands of micro-services under the hood of their app, orchestration and optimal resource utilization become challenging. This is when K8s comes into play.

Let’s quickly go through the list of main reasons why use Kubernetes for your application deployment and infrastructure management:

  • Strong architecture. Kubernetes has a proven and mature underlying architecture because it was designed by seasoned engineers from the beginning.
  • Community and industry support. K8s broad adoption makes it stand out amongst all other container orchestration solutions. It gained a large developer community along with the support of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.
  • Rich application support and features. This technology has rich features compared to other container orchestration systems and is more flexible. It supports a wide range of workload programming frameworks and languages, such as Go, Python, Java, and more.
  • Easy deployment. Kubernetes offers automated rollouts and rollbacks without downtime. In case the deployment fails, there is an automatic roll-back. It also offers resource monitoring, DNS management, storage, and logging orchestration.
  • Effective codebase management. Containers allow splitting applications into smaller parts. Such architecture makes it easy to manage codebases and test specific inputs and outputs. Kubernetes has built-in features like self-healing and automated rollouts/rollbacks that help you effectively manage your containers.
  • Portability. The standardization of K8s and compatibility across various platforms allow you to avoid cloud provider and infrastructure lock-in.
  • Scalability. Kubernetes provide various useful features for scalability, which works to the benefit of startups. Since it operates at the individual server level, new servers can be added or removed easily. Besides that, auto-scaling can automatically change the number of running containers.
  • Future-proof solution. All major cloud providers and even some niche providers offer managed Kubernetes solutions. K8s community is growing since more and more large companies adopt the technology. After you adopt it, you can be sure that you’ll use it for a long time without rebuilding your systems.

Airbnb, Tinder, Spotify, Pinterest, and other unicorns have benefited from implementing Kubernetes. So should your company follow their example?

Adopting Kubernetes is an investment

As you know, the adoption of Kubernetes will cost you some money and effort. You’ll need to engage a DevOps professional, train your engineers, introduce changes to the existing software, and cope with a short-term decrease in productivity. But with time, your investment will pay off through better system stability, shorter release cycles, or lower computing resource cost.

When you should use Kubernetes

This system is the best choice for you if you are looking to transition to a microservice architecture. It’s especially true if you're already using software like Docker to containerize your application.

If you’re suffering from slow development and deployment and unable to meet customer demand, Kubernetes might help. Along with Docker, it can effectively manage your development and deployment lifecycle. Meanwhile, your team can spend their time on more meaningful work and focus on getting products out the door.

When you shouldn’t use Kubernetes

The tool was meant for managing large and frequently changing systems. If you're running a simple WordPress website, you don’t need it. In this case, your CMS gets deployed once in a while to upgrade libraries or install a plugin, and your team can easily cope with those updates without complex deployment automation tools.

Kubernetes notoriously has a steep learning curve. That means you’ll have to spend a lot of time educating your team and addressing new challenges. If your team is not willing to experiment and take risks, then migrating to K8s is not the right choice for you.

Let’s sum it up

Kubernetes is vital for you if you have a tech startup and aspire to scale it massively. You can use it to control and automate deployments. It’ll save you money by optimizing infrastructure resources through more efficient use of hardware.

Startups are leaping ahead to solve the upcoming problems with the rise of each new wave of technology. However, Kubernetes might be the only infrastructure technology that you will ever need from now on.

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