Kubernetes: Everything you need to know

Kubernetes helps orchestrate and automate tasks associated with containers - an essential need as you scale. Here's a deep dive for IT leaders on what Kubernetes can do, key terms, best practices, trends for 2020, and more
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Kubernetes everything you need to know

Kubernetes tutorials

"Minikube allows teams to experiment quickly and easily."

Minikube makes a great do-it-yourself learning opportunity. “To get hands-on with Kubernetes or to run a trial of it, the easiest way to get started is to use Minikube on one of the Linux OS flavors,” says Raghu Kishore Vempati, principal systems engineer for innovation at Altran. “Minikube allows teams to experiment quickly and easily. The setup is simple.”

Here are four other tutorials to consider:

Learn Kubernetes Basics tutorial – Kubernetes official site

When you’ve got the lingo, concepts, and emerging trends down pat, consider digging into this tutorial on the basics of Kubernetes orchestration via the official project site.

Learn Kubernetes Using Interactive Browser-Based Scenarios – Katacoda

This browser-based tool offers 17 hands-dirty scenarios for learning Kubernetes, including fundamentals such as deploying a container using the kubectl command-line interface and more advanced tasks such as Ingress routing. It also includes a “playground” environment for unstructured tinkering and learning.

Kubernetes by Example – Red Hat OpenShift

These step-by-step walk-throughs of Kubernetes concepts and capabilities, created by the Red Hat OpenShift team, includes commands for the kubectl command-line interface for various tasks and operations. These can then be replicated in DIY fashion, either in a local environment or in an online environment on openshift.com.

Getting started with Kubernetes - Opensource.com

Our sister site, Opensource.com, also offers a tutorial that will walk you through the basics of creating a cluster, deploying an app, and creating a proxy: See Getting started with Kubernetes.

Kubernetes classes and books

Kubernetes classes

Introduction to Kubernetes – edX

This edX course developed by The Linux Foundation functions like a “101” course for people and teams new to the tool. The edX course page includes a bullet-point syllabus for the topics covered, including (near the end of the class) the value of the Kubernetes community and how to get involved. The course is free, with a paid option ($99) for those who want a verified certificate of successful completion.

Scalable Microservices with Kubernetes – Udacity

This free course introduces the ins and outs of managing containerized applications with Kubernetes, especially in the context of today’s 24-7 expectations for applications and services and the demands those expectations place on infrastructure.

Deploying Containerized Applications Technical Overview - Red Hat

This free course is a series of on-demand, online videos that introduces you to Linux containers and container orchestration technology. In these short lectures and in-depth demonstrations, you will learn about containerizing applications and services, testing them, and deploying them on a Kubernetes cluster using Red Hat OpenShift. You will also learn how to build and deploy an application from source code using the source-to-image facility of OpenShift.

Kubernetes books

O’Reilly: Kubernetes Operators: Automating the Container Orchestration Platform

Want to learn more about building and deploying Operators? Get this free eBook.

O'Reilly: Kubernetes patterns for designing cloud-native apps

In this free eBook aimed at developers, get detailed, reusable Kubernetes patterns for container deployment and orchestration. Learn everything Kubernetes offers for each particular pattern, with tested conclusions for each concept and full code examples.

Kubernetes: Up and Running: Dive into the Future of Infrastructure 

This book (available in both electronic and physical editions) is considered one of the better introductions to Kubernetes fundamentals, especially for beginning audiences. It’s written by noted K8s expert Kelsey Hightower along with two of the orchestrator’s original creators at Google: Brendan Burns and Joe Beda.

Kubernetes security: What you need to know

Red Hat security strategist Kirsten Newcomer encourages people to think of container security as having ten layers – including both the container stack layers (such as the container host and registries) and container lifecycle issues (such as API management). For complete details on the ten layers and how orchestration tools such as Kubernetes fit in, check out this podcast with Newcomer, or this whitepaper: Ten Layers of Container Security.

Here are 3 Kubernetes security areas for your teams to focus on:

  • Application and environment misconfigurations
  • Poor container security hygiene
  • Production deployments expose misconfigurations and other vulnerabilities

Taking a DevSecOps approach – which bakes security into dev processes from the start - helps, as does active participation in the Kubernetes community. For more security tips, read also: 

Kubernetes security: 4 tips to manage risks.

Kubernetes security: 5 mistakes to avoid

6 Kubernetes security questions, answered

7 best practices: Building applications for containers and Kubernetes

Don't let the growing popularity of containers and Kubernetes dupe you into thinking that you should use them to run any and every type of application. You need to distinguish between "can" and "should."

One basic example of this distinction is the difference between building an app specifically to be run in containers and operated with Kubernetes (some would refer to this as cloud-native development) and using these containers and orchestration for existing monolithic apps.

Building new applications specifically for containers and Kubernetes might be the better starting point for teams just beginning with containers and orchestration.

Here are seven best practices to keep in mind:

1. Think and build modern: Think microservices, for example. Define container images as logical units that can scale independently. Consider cloud-native APIs.

2. CI/CD and automation are your friends: A well-conceived CI/CD pipeline is an increasingly popular approach to baking automation into as many phases of your development and deployment processes as possible. Check out our recent primer for IT leaders: How to build a CI/CD pipeline.

3. Keep container images as light as possible: Keep your container images as small as possible for performance, security, and other reasons. Only include what you absolutely need. Remove all other packages – including shell utilities – that are not required by the containerized application.

4. Don’t blindly trust images: If you’re going to grab a container image rather than build it from scratch, don’t have blind faith in its security. Any images you use, even ones in your own repositories, should be scanned for vulnerabilities and compliance, experts advise.

5. Plan for observability, telemetry, and monitoring from the start: Kubernetes’ self-healing capabilities are a piece of the platform’s appeal, but they also underscore the need for proper visibility into your applications and environments. This is where observability, telemetry, and monitoring become key.

6. Consider starting with stateless applications: One early line of thinking about containers and Kubernetes has been that running stateless apps is a lot easier than running stateful apps (such as databases). That’s changing with the growth of Kubernetes Operators, but teams new to Kubernetes might still be better served by beginning with stateless applications.

7. Remember, this is hard: “None of the abstractions that exist in Kubernetes today make the underlying systems any easier to understand. They only make them easier to use,” says Chris Short, Red Hat OpenShift principal technical marketing manager. Your teams should be ready to learn from mistakes, Short notes.

For full detail on each of these seven best practices, read 7 best practices: Building applications for containers and Kubernetes. Want to migrate existing apps rather than build from scratch? Read Migrating applications to containers and Kubernetes: 5 best practices.

Kubernetes resources: Learn more

Check out these eBooks and articles, for even more learning on Kubernetes, and share with your team:

Try out Kubernetes: See Kubernetes by Example's Try Kubernetes for two ways to set up and run.

eBook: Getting Started with Kubernetes

eBook: O'Reilly: Kubernetes Operators: Automating the Container Orchestration Platform

eBook: O'Reilly: Kubernetes patterns for designing cloud-native apps

Kubernetes glossary cheat sheet:  10 key concepts in plain English

Containers primer: Learn the lingo of Linux containers 


What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes by the numbers: 13 compelling stats

Kubernetes: 6 secrets of successful teams

Minikube, Kubernetes' best friend: 6 facts to know

How to explain Kubernetes Operators in plain English

Kubernetes Operators: 4 facts to know

Kubernetes: 3 ways to get started

How to make the case for Kubernetes

Kubernetes jobs hunt: How to land that role

14 Kubernetes interview questions: For hiring managers and job seekers

5 interview questions every Kubernetes job candidate should know 

Running Kubernetes on your Raspberry Pi homelab

Developing applications on Kubernetes

How to run a Kubernetes cluster on your laptop

Deep dive: Understanding Kubernetes for enterprises

Community of business-minded IT leaders exploring the evolving role of CIOs as they drive business strategy and inspire enterprise-wide innovation.

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