Kubernetes by the numbers: 10 compelling stats

Trying to demonstrate the reach and value of Kubernetes? Make your case using these data points
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How quickly has Kubernetes’ popularity soared? By most accounts, very quickly. Earlier this year, Cloud Native Computing Foundation executive director Dan Kohn penned a blog post that dug into that claim. People regularly tout Kubernetes as one of the highest velocity projects ever in open source history: Does the data back it up?

As Kohn found, there may not be a single definitive metric, but they all point in the same conclusion: “You can pick your preferred statistic, such as that Kubernetes is in the top 0.00006% of the projects on GitHub,” Kohn wrote. “I prefer to just think of it as one of the fastest moving projects in the history of open source.”

[ Want to help others understand Kubernetes? Check out our related article, How to explain Kubernetes in plain English. ]

You can find plenty of numbers that illuminate Kubernetes’ path to becoming one of the most popular container orchestration tools, as well as other important characteristics of the platform. We rounded up some of the best for your consideration – and your potential use in making the case for Kubernetes in your organization.

8: The numbers of characters between the “K” and the “S” in Kubernetes, leading to the developer shorthand, K8s. (It may be both hip and geeky, but the nickname will also save you the trouble of fumbling through the full term’s pronunciation.)

388,100: The number of comments on the Kubernetes repository on GitHub during the past year, making it the most-discussed repository by a wide margin. The second most-discussed repository, for Red Hat’s OpenShift Origin, had 91,100 comments. 

680: The number of reviews the Kubernetes repository has received on GitHub, making it the second-most reviewed project during the past year. 

6525: Kubernetes’ “Krihelimeter” score on The Krihelinator Project, which measures a project’s recent popularity on GitHub. That currently places Kubernetes fourth overall among GitHub repositories. The score is derived from a weighted formula that includes the number of authors, commits, pull requests, and issues, from the past week. It’s intended as an alternative to GitHub’s own Trending page, which tracks a project’s recent popularity by the number of times users have “starred” it, similar to bookmarking a webpage.

28,519: The number of stars the Kubernetes repository has received to date.

60 percent: The percentage of respondents reporting broad container usage in production, in The New Stack’s 2017 Kubernetes User Experience survey, who said that they are also running Kubernetes to manage those containers. Another 19 percent of people reporting broad container use in production say they’ve begun initial production usage of Kubernetes. 

[ Read our related article, Microservices and containers: 6 things to know at start time.

$2.7 billion: The expected overall market for containers in 2020, according to 451 Research. That’s 3.5 times greater than the $762 million container market in 2016, with a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent. Given the apparent relationship between container usage and orchestration adoption, expect the latter, led by Kubernetes, to follow a similar upward trend. 

2: Kubernetes’ age, in years; version 1.0 was released on July 21, 2015. Technically, Kubernetes had existed prior to this internally at Google, but this was the day it was “born” into the world as the open source tool we know today. Google donated the project to the newly formed CNCF, which is run by The Linux Foundation and backed by a slew of major technology companies, including Red Hat

47 percent: The percentage of users currently deploying container orchestration or platform services on top of OpenStack who report they’re using Kubernetes, according to the April 2017 OpenStack User Survey. Kubernetes tops the list of container orchestration and platform-as-a-service tools used to manage applications in an OpenStack environment.

71 percent: The percentage of respondents, in The New Stack’s 2017 Kubernetes user experience survey, who checked off “scaling” as an essential requirement when evaluating container orchestration options. Another 26 percent listed scalability as “important,” with just three percent saying it was not an important requirement. Scalability was consistently a top requirement for orchestration, which perhaps isn’t too surprising given the potential benefits of containers, and especially containerized microservices. The percentage ticks up to 73 when polling people who are already running Kubernetes in production.

[ Read also: Containers aren't just for applications. ]

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his InformationWeek.com story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.