Kubernetes is Set to Take the Stage in 2021

Kubernetes is expanding the foundation of containers and is set to continue to ride the tide of increased adoption in 2021.

Kubernetes’s use is expanding into new frontiers such as 5G infrastructure, orchestrating VMs and serverless applications. However, it will also need to become more transparent as overhead gets simplified with new toolsets for infrastructure as code and cloud-native provider integration.

Here IT experts predict key changes they see for Kubernetes in 2021.

K8s Takes Over as Telecom Services Backbone. Telcos are using Kubernetes in their 5G infrastructure and K8s on the edge, and evolving from OpenStack which is relatively much more complex to manage and operate, and has less community & ecosystem adoption. As Telcos expand their infrastructure and manage compute-intensive applications, they are opting for K8s, which has already proven itself to be the leading cloud-native orchestration platform. When Telcos adopt this kind of technology, you know the technology is here for the long haul. Enterprises, small companies and companies building new technologies should feel confident basing their solutions on Kubernetes.—Alcide CEO Amir Ofek.

Kubernetes usage continues to lag for critical business apps. Even though Kubernetes has become a red-hot trend among tech media and influencers, few organizations are actually deploying Kubernetes for critical business apps. Even forward-looking enterprises that have widely deployed containers, such as those in the tech and financial services sectors, tend to only use Kubernetes for a small fraction of their containerized workloads. Operational difficulties are the biggest issue. Simply put, Kubernetes is very challenging to deploy, manage and run at scale. 

To make things more complicated, deploying Kubernetes in production and at scale requires massive internal buy-in. Unlike microservices, which are leveraged almost exclusively by developer teams and don’t necessarily require top-down approval from IT to adopt, Kubernetes impacts an organization’s entire infrastructure stack and often must be greenlit by the CIO before it can be fully deployed. Kubernetes also has a steep learning curve. It is a radical departure from VMs, which the majority of IT pros still rely on to deploy and run infrastructure and applications. Because of these factors, Kubernetes will not yet see widespread usage supporting business apps next year. Eventually, though, organizations will realize they can turn to pre-made Kubernetes clouds to overcome these challenges, and full production deployments at scale will finally take off.—Ankur Singla, CEO of Volterra.

Kubernetes will migrate to on-prem as the next wave of virtualization gives way. Kubernetes will see rising on-prem adoption, with VMware leading the trend. During the next year, VMware will introduce more products and partnerships that will further drive Kubernetes on-premises and make the technology available to a whole new mainstream audience. Until recently, the major public cloud providers dominated the conversation around Kubernetes, arguing that almost everything, especially Kubernetes deployments, should be located in the public cloud. However, more and more enterprises have begun to realize that Kubernetes-based workloads (and many workloads in general) are actually a better fit on-prem, depending on their specific business needs.—Jon Toor, CMO for Cloudian.

While Kubenetes is experiencing its “moment,” Serverless is not far behind. In 2021, behind the continued explosion of Kubernetes, the next generation of developers will quickly take up the mantle with serverless. Serverless will emerge from the trough of disillusionment as the solution for enabling developers to use the cloud-native infrastructure stack to simplify the deployment, monitoring, and running of these applications. Developers will not have to think about deploying nodes or virtual machines. We will start to see everything in the database become extracted and virtualized. Serverless still has a way to go, but anyone who thinks serverless has seen its best days or is too far fetched is in for a treat. As developers take on more of the decision-maker role, we will start to see a shift in the kind of tools developers will seek and implement. Being able to scale globally is possible with Kubernetes, but is very complex. Serverless provides a nice package to achieve global scale.—Cockroach Labs’ CEO Spencer Kimball.

Kubernetes facilitates the movement of data between clouds. Kubernetes – and container technology more broadly – will continue to make analytics technology and data portable across public cloud and between those clouds and customer data centers. That, in turn, will make analytics control plane technology, which can perform ‘fleet management’ across analytics deployments, more critical and valuable.—Andrew Brust, analyst, Gigaom.