After unintentionally putting it off for years, I recently took a look at
Google’s Kubernetes for the first time, and was impressed by the
sophistication of the project. This ACM article does a good job of
explaining its premise along with some of the history of its predecessors at
I find Kubernetes especially fascinating because instead of just shipping a new
cloud product (in the spirit of Amazon for example), Google’s instead decided
to build an open platform on top of the infrastructure. They’ve also gone out
of their way to prove very early on that it’s broadly applicable outside of the
GCE’s specialized ecosystem.
Some of the highlights that stood out to me:
- It’s multi-provider. AWS, GCE, and Azure available as turnkey solutions. In
my experience, you get this working early or you don’t get it working at all.
- The entire application state being driven purely by etcd is a pretty
interesting feature. Theoretically you can avoid a single point of failure
throughout your entire control plane. Back at Heroku, database failures were
the most common reason for development outages.
- Co-located pods on nodes are awesome. You don’t need these for the most basic
web app deployment, but being able to expand your system with the use of
agents for log ingestion and the like at a logic layer higher than Puppet is
a very useful abstraction.
- Let’s also not discount the backing of a company like Google is a major asset
to confidence in its longevity (compare that to Mesos for example).
And some more tepid commentary:
- It’s an open question to how difficult it is to operate the system. i.e.
Theoretically it’s trivial, but given 500 deployed nodes, how may full-time
engineers will it take in practice to babysit it?
- Its documentation is nicely complete, but it and the project’s branding feel
very rough around the edges. This might seem like an inconsequential point,
but given how sophisticated Kubernetes is already, confusion might be one of
the biggest blockers to the project’s success right now.
- GCE still needs its own RDS. I want to have at least the option for easy
access to a ready-made database.
There’s a lot of companies out there that find PaaS like Heroku too
restricting, but by going to IaaS have ended up building and maintaining their
own platform to make it palatable; a very steep price to pay. The industry
needs a platform that’s easy to use, powerful enough to be universally
applicable, and open enough that many organizations across many disciplines are
willing to use it.
The next step for me is to actually try this thing out.