Table of contents
What is Kubernetes?
In recent years, Kubernetes has grown into one of the most popular tools for orchestrating large-scale container-based applications. Even though Kubernetes is typically paired with Docker, the most popular containerization platform, it has the capability of working with any container system that conforms to the Open Container Initiative (OCI) standards for container image formats and runtimes. It is open-source, which makes Kubernetes a free and open platform that anyone can use, whether they are running containers on-premises or in the cloud. A Kubernetes cluster is used to distribute application workloads and automate dynamic container networking. The Kubernetes platform allocates storage, and persistent volumes provide automatic scaling and ensure that applications maintain their desired states continually.
An overview of container orchestration and its importance
Kubernetes platform is used for container orchestration. The next step is to examine what orchestration is and why it is so important before comparing different Kubernetes alternatives on the market.
Orchestration automates the operational management of containerized applications. The process automates scaling-in and scaling-out of applications, networking, container deployments, etc. A containerized application that is very small can also be managed without an orchestrator if all of these operations are to be performed. With microservices applications having hundreds of microservices and thousands of containers, managing all these containers becomes challenging, which is where orchestrators come into play.
There are several Kubernetes competitors and Kubernetes alternatives available in the market, including Amazon ECS, Docker Swarm, Nomad, etc.
What problem Kubernetes Was Trying to Solve
The Kubernetes container management system was developed by Google as the open-source version of their overly complex Borg platform, but has now become a global movement. CNCF manages it and maintains it with the help of a large community of contributors.
Kubernetes is increasingly being used to deploy software, manage containers, and scale infrastructure in the past two years. With built-in replicas and autoscaling, it ensures that containerized applications scale quickly and remain healthy.
Kubernetes infrastructure is built around containers, which isolate the OS and application components from the unnecessary hypervisor and hypervisor-related components, to create an uncluttered and tidy package.
Challenges of Kubernetes
With Kubernetes, you can scale your application, reduce your IT costs, and shorten your release cycle. Even so, this does not mean Kubernetes has no bottlenecks. Understanding these challenges can help you determine a suitable solution. Let's examine them one by one. Let's look at them one by one
1. For simple applications, Kubernetes can be overkill
Kubernetes is a powerful but complex technology that lets you run software on a massive scale in a cloud environment. It is unlikely that K8s will provide many benefits to you if you do not intend to develop complex applications for large or distributed audiences (for example, building a worldwide online shop with thousands of customers) or if you do not require high computing resources (for example, machine learning applications). Imagine you just want to show your business's opening hours and location on your website. This is not the purpose of Kubernetes, so you shouldn't use it. Nevertheless, a simple website should not run on Kubernetes and every machine learning software should. There is just a greater chance that it will be beneficial in the first case than in the second.
2. Issues of interoperability
In general, Kubernetes is not interoperable with other applications and services. The communication between applications can be complicated when cloud-native apps are enabled on Kubernetes. Further, Kubernetes does not provide native API management, making it difficult to track the behavior of applications and containers. The native API management enables better visualization of traffic and better communication between services.
3. Kubernetes transition can be challenging
Due to the fact that most companies cannot start from scratch, existing software must be adapted to work with Kubernetes or at least alongside newly built applications running on Kubernetes. The amount of effort required will depend heavily on the software (e.g., whether it is already containerized, what programming language is used, etc.). It is also necessary to adapt some processes, particularly those related to deployment, to the new environment. In spite of experienced staff on site, Kubernetes adoption can still be challenging and time-consuming.
4. The scaling of Kubernetes is not possible
Kubernetes is popular among organizations because of its scalability. However, Kubernetes faces a challenge when it comes to dynamic scaling. It's because Kubernetes comes with a Horizontal Pod Autoscaler (HPA). Pod deployment can be automated based on scaling requirements. There is however a problem with HPA's configuration. HPAs cannot be configured on ReplicaSets or Replication controllers during deployment.
Replication controllers allow pods to be replaced when one crashes, for example. Despite HPA's ability to scale Kubernetes automatically, it cannot replace pods if they crash. Kubernetes may not be the best choice for your organization if a failsafe system is urgently needed.
5. Inconsistency in applications
Data persistence with Kubernetes is challenging for stateful apps. The service is kept running by a group of temporary containers rather than one. YAML can still be used to create a manifest. Stateless applications can be controlled using this method.
There can be problems with containers. The state and configuration files of the app are also deleted when temporary containers are terminated. Therefore, maintaining the app's state and consistency becomes challenging. Therefore, Kubernetes needs to be replaced with an alternative that provides a higher level of app consistency.
The best Container Orchestration tool: how do you choose it? Before deciding on the best orchestration tool, you should consider your business requirements and maintenance capabilities. Despite their great features, not all orchestration tools are appropriate for your needs.
Kubernetes alternatives, for instance, are very use-case-dependent when it comes to choosing the right tool. The orchestration tool you choose will depend on your priorities and the technology you need to
The things to keep in mind when choosing an alternative to Kubernetes are listed below
- It should be possible to deploy and manage in a flexible manner using the tool
- Usage and maintenance should be simple
- Deploying and managing in a flexible manner
- Load balancer configuration should be supported
- A good amount of documentation is available about the tool
Alternatives of Kubernetes
The popularity of containerization has led to other alternatives appearing on the market. The following are Kubernetes alternatives you should consider:
1. Amazon ECS
AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS) is a Kubernetes alternative from Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS ECS manages Docker containers through an orchestration platform. EC2 instances are managed and scaled by ECS to provide a serverless architecture where Docker containers run on them. Security is built into Amazon ECS, and it is backed by AWS Identity Access Management (IAM). Since it is an AWS service, it's easy to integrate with other AWS services, including Elastic Load Balancing, Cloudwatch, IAM, Cloudformation. The infrastructure costs can also be reduced by using Spot instances for EC2 instances.
For container orchestration, ECS is a viable alternative to Kubernetes. Fargate or EC2 instances can be used to run containers. Savings of up to 90% can be achieved using ECS with Spot or Fargate EC2 instances. The ECS Service Level Agreement guarantees a minimum 99.99% uptime on a monthly basis. Instead of managing infrastructure, you can focus on building and maintaining applications with ECS.
Nomad, the container orchestrator developed by HashiCorp, allows organizations to manage both legacy applications as well as containers using the same interface. A strong emphasis is placed on ease of use.
Using Nomad's Infrastructure as Code (IaC) approach, developers can deploy applications using Docker, non-container applications, microservices, and batch applications simultaneously.
3. Amazon Fargate
Amazon Fargate uses serverless computing, which is not supported by the regular version of Kubernetes. AWS only supports Fargate deployments because it is a cloud-based solution. The advantage of using Fargate on AWS is that it is "pay as you go" which makes it an attractive alternative to other Kubernetes solutions. It is critical to ignore the underlying hardware when working on application deployment with fargate. Due to its ease of use, Fargate requires the least upkeep compared to other Kubernetes options.
Through Amazon Fargate, containerized apps can be launched without maintaining servers or clusters using Amazon ECS and EKS. In order to run containers with Fargate with Amazon ECS and EKS, you do not need to configure, provision, or scale clusters.
4. Docker Swarm
Docker Swarm is Docker's open-source platform for orchestrating containers. It runs Docker containers in the "Swarm" mode. By working in Swarm mode, Docker is aware of how it interacts with other instances. Using Docker Swarm is super simple - you just need a few lines of code to get it started.
Docker Swarm is initialized, enabled, and managed using the Docker command line. By managing the container lifecycle, you can achieve your desired goals. A Docker Swarm cluster is similar to a Kubernetes cluster in that it distributes the load over, multiple hosts.
Docker Swarm's ease of initialization makes it a worthy alternative to Kubernetes. The Docker engine is also deployed on manager nodes in a Swarm cluster. Clusters are orchestrated by manager nodes, and tasks are executed by worker nodes.
5. Azure Container Instances
Developers can deploy containers directly into Microsoft Azure without provisioning or managing infrastructure with Azure Container Instances (ACI).
Linux and Windows containers are supported by this service. Bypassing virtual machines and orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, it eliminates the need to configure and manage virtual machines. Microsoft automatically configures and scales the underlying compute resources when you launch new containers through the Azure portal or the Azure CLI.
The Azure Container Registry and Docker Hub support images from public container registries.
6. Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)
Kubernetes was developed by Google, which remains heavily involved in its development. In addition, it launched the Google Kubernetes Engine, the first managed Kubernetes service. In terms of maturity, GKE is one of the most popular Kubernetes services.
Kubernetes management tasks at GKE are automated using recent versions of Kubernetes. With its integration with other Google Cloud services, it can provide access control, security, and other features. Additionally, Google provides Anthos, which allows you to run GKE on-premises as well as on public clouds, such as AWS.
7. RedHat OpenShift
The RedHat OpenShift platform is an open-source container platform that operates as a platform as a service. Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host (RHELAH), Fedora, or CentOS are the only platforms that support it. Containers cannot be run as root due to its strict security policy. The RedHat OpenShift platform has built-in monitoring and centralized policy management. Red Hat developers are the primary recipients of OpenShift support. As an alternative to Kubernetes built on top of Kubernetes, RedHat OpenShift includes components of Kubernetes, plus productivity and security features.
8. Google Cloud Run
Google Cloud Run delivers stateless, auto-scaling HTTP services based on Docker container images. As opposed to serverless platforms like Google Cloud Functions or Amazon Lambda, Cloud Run can run more than just small functions. With multiple endpoints, it is capable of running complex applications.
The number of container instances is automatically scaled by Cloud Cloud Run based on incoming requests for each application. In addition, it provides a concurrency setting, which determines how many requests a particular container instance can handle at any given time.
The purpose of this article is to shed some light on some alternatives to Kubernetes. Considering the challenges and how these alternatives assist will help you get the full picture! Before you join the crowd and follow the crowd, think twice. You must ultimately decide which Kubernetes alternative to use based on your priorities.
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