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Kubernetes growth explodes amid concerns like security and a talent gap – Report 2022

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Hybrid and multicloud adoption has skyrocketed in recent years due to the choice and freedom it offers, and also because of the opportunities to save on cloud costs. Nevertheless, security is still a concern among organizations that have made the leap to multicloud. To gather meaningful insight into user objectives and preferences, the makers of Ubuntu, Canonical, surveyed a group of 1300 respondents. The findings from this survey can be used to improve the cloud-native technologies that help address an organization’s needs in the cloud. The report includes data on hybrid and multi-cloud operations, VMs, Kubernetes, and bare metal among others.

Use of Kubernetes across organizations

With the growing adoption of technology, there is a growing user base for Kubernetes. Infrastructure architects, DevOps teams, and SREs (Software Reliability Engineers) attributed their usage of Kubernetes is its ability to operate infrastructure across clusters. Apart from these criteria, there is a lot of interest in AI/ML and data platforms on Kubernetes, thanks to the growing maturity of these use cases.

33.7% of respondents are using stateful applications in Kubernetes containers. Although Kubernetes was initially used for stateless applications, the platform has diversified to support more kinds of workloads. Consequently, Kubernetes is allowing organizations to become more receptive to innovation.

While most industries are investing in modernizing their infrastructure or switching from legacy systems, education and financial services emerged as two of the biggest adopters of cloud-native solutions in the past year. These industries, despite the security and compliance requirements, are using hybrid or multi-cloud to accelerate development, improve disaster recovery, expand cloud backup options, run mission-critical databases, and seamlessly move assets between public cloud providers.

Kubernetes usage trends

According to the report, 30.9% of the organizations prefer to have 2-5 clusters, with AWS and Azure remaining as the preferred public clouds, closely followed by GCP, VMware, and Bare metal.

The size and number of clusters depend on various factors such as company size and security needs. Although 29.1% of respondents preferred a mix of bare metal, VMs, and Kubernetes to run their applications, there is an increasing trend among Kubernetes users to run their own clusters with custom requirements.

The Canonical report also shows that only 52% of users prefer running high availability Kubernetes clusters. While many use Kubernetes for data-sensitive and highly secure applications, only one-third use Kubernetes in an offline environment.

​​​​Kubernetes security is a key priority

Security has been one of the key concerns when it comes to using Kubernetes. Businesses must ensure all clusters, irrespective of location and purpose, must be routinely and preferably automatically updated to avoid security issues.

Organizations prefer investing in readily available technology rather than building the same technology themselves. While the open-source platform allows collaboration around Kubernetes, it also lacks the incentive that would drive more people to ensure security by default.

There is a Kubernetes talent shortage

Despite the interest, one of the biggest challenges in the sector is the skills gap. Although Kubernetes is an open-source platform, the skill gap has affected the growth and adoption rate of this technology. However, analysts and experts believe that this number will likely grow in the coming years as many traditional IT organizations encourage their employees to upskill to cloud-native and Kubernetes.

Other important observations

  • Managing or modifying Helm charts will get complicated, especially at a large scale. However, it is observed that most people are using Helm charts for customization, although experts don’t consider it an efficient solution.
  • Docker Kubernetes is considered the popular choice during local container development due to their omnipresent offering, the popularity of Minikube, and the easy installation process.
  • As skill gap is a significant issue in the industry, there is a certain level of trust to accept an operator built by an expert.
  • While this year’s report showed a 7% decrease in people using old Kubernetes versions, experts also suggest that the frequency of upgrades depends entirely on the cluster’s size. Nonetheless, it is recommended that providers offer an overview of the entire fleet and enable users to upgrade clusters on short notice.
  • The report also showed that developers moving away from Helm indicated an interest in other alternates to manage software on Kubernetes. In the list, Scripts, Configuration Management tools such as Ansible, Puppet, and GitOps are among the top three alternatives for operating, upgrading, and maintaining software on Kubernetes.

The future of Kubernetes and cloud-native operations

Automation will continue to be one of the most important technology goals for companies as it helps lower costs and improve time to market. Interestingly, it is expected that AI/ML and data platforms space will evolve, and with it, the goals of its users. However, for an organization and the industry in general to realize the full potential of cloud-native technologies, it is imperative to bridge the jarring skill gap prevalent. To that end, experts recommend online training courses such as MOOCs to upskill in a specified time frame.

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