Kubernetes went from a fun project in 2017 to the breakout hit of the cloud computing space in 2018. It seemed that just about every cloud provider, software platform vendor, or service provider included Kubernetes in at least one – if not all – of their announcements this year.
The Kubernetes community reciprocated that love by drastically evolving the platform. This included expanding its capabilities and focusing on greater stability and maturity. But challenges remain in terms of surmounting hurdles that are preventing broader adoption.
With that in mind, we present the top five biggest Kubernetes trends from 2018.
All Grown Up
The most important milestone for Kubernetes this year was that it hit “graduation” status within the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which hosts the project. The Kubernetes project was the first to be housed within CNCF and in turn the first to make its way through the CNCF gauntlet.
“It signals that Kubernetes is mature as an open source project and resilient enough to manage containers at scale across any industry, in companies of all sizes,” explained CNCF COO Chris Aniszczyk at that time on what graduation meant for the project.
That maturation also fed into a move by Google, which was the genesis for the Kubernetes platform, to transfer all operational ties of the project into CNCF. That decision removed a source of friction from within the Kubernetes community.
Kubernetes was initially developed out of Google’s Borg platform as a way to manage container clusters at scale. But, as with all good things, people wanted more. And this year that happened as a number of vendors tapped Kubernetes as the basis for a wide range of new infrastructure projects.
One of the more notable was AT&T, SK Telecom, Intel, and the Open Stack Foundation using Kubernetes as a key component of its Airship platform. The initial focus of that effort is the implementation of a declarative platform to introduce OpenStack on Kubernetes (OOK) and the lifecycle management of the resulting cloud. Basically, Airship allows operators to manage cloud sites at every stage from creation through minor and major updates, including configuration changes and OpenStack upgrades. It does this through a unified, declarative, fully containerized, and cloud-native platform.
This maturity and expansion also led to some significant consolidation efforts.
The most prominent was IBM’s move to acquire Red Hat for $34 billion. While both parties highlighted Red Hat’s presence in the open source community as a main valuation driver, its Kubernetes-focused OpenShift platform was an important aspect of the deal.
Other notable deals this year included VMware paying $550 million to acquire Heptio, which was founded by two of the original Google developers that worked on what eventually became Kubernetes, and Red Hat’s $250 million acquisition of CoreOS.
One challenge that has come with Kubernetes’ growing stature is the increased focus on security. While the project routinely touts security updates as part of its quarterly version releases, a major security flaw was discovered just as the last release for the year was announced.
The flaw, which was discovered by an engineer at Rancher Labs, impacted all Kubernetes-based products and services and gave hackers full administrative privileges on any compute node being run in a Kubernetes cluster. The flaw garnered a 9.8 (critical) score out of 10 on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).
To the credit of the ecosystem, a patch was released within 24 hours that covers the past four versions of the container orchestrator. Security experts noted that the discovery of the security flaw was not unexpected and that more can be expected going forward.
“We should not be surprised or afraid that issues have been found,” explained Liz Rice, a technology evangelist at Aqua Security, during a keynote address at the recent KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 event in Seattle. “All systems have these.”
Just Warming Up
While 2018 was a big year for the maturation and expansion of the Kubernetes ecosystem, many feel that 2019 will really be the year that the platform takes off.
That expectation makes sense when you consider that enterprise adoption is still in its early stages. A recent survey from monitoring software provider Datadog found that the use of Kubernetes increased 10 percentage points over the past year, but was still the container orchestrator of choice for just 32.5 percent of those surveyed.
Those numbers should rise in 2019 as the ecosystem tackles some of the remaining challenges preventing mass enterprise adoption.