Kubernetes is so hard—but worth the pain

2019 will be a challenging year for some enterprises as they try to turn Kubernetes hype into production reality

It’s not even Christmas yet but the Kubernetes messiah has already been born. As a recent Heptio survey found, 60 percent of enterprises surveyed are running Kubernetes—and more than half of those are doing so in production. The Kubernetes training wheels, in other words, are off.

Which is saying a lot because, as Capital One’s cloud guru Bernard Golden has stated, “While Kubernetes-based applications may be easy to run, Kubernetes itself is no picnic to operate.” It’s not simply the learning curve associated with moving to containers and microservices-based architectures, but the newness of Kubernetes itself. That, coupled with a somewhat chaotic market for Kubernetes expertise, will make 2019 a challenging year for some enterprises as they try to turn Kubernetes hype into production reality.

Bringing order from chaos to Kubernetes

Kubernetes is plagued (blessed?) by “true goat rodeo dynamics,” as one industry observer put it to me. “From the old guard like IBM and Oracle offering Kubernetes products or services, and the ten-plus startups, and guys like Rackspace, and recently NetApp buying Stackpoint, Nutanix launching a service this week, Kubernetes is a crazy-fest.” There are, in case you were wondering, 61 CNCF-certified Kubernetes service providers. Granted, not all of them offer their own version of Kubernetes. Some, as IBM’s Jeffrey Borek correctly pointed out, are “incorporating Kubernetes into their platforms for performance and interoperability.”

That’s good.

And choice is also good, as CNCF executive Chris Aniszczyk highlighted to me (“Isn't it great that users have so much choice in support?”). But choice is only good up to a point. Too much choice ends up being as bad, if not worse, as no choice.

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