Kubernetes: 3 reasons containers are becoming essential for midsize organizations

Containers and Kubernetes have matured in recent years, enabling smaller and midsize organizations to tap the benefits of this powerful technology
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Until recently, experimenting and deploying newer technologies like containers was largely left to bigger enterprises – Global 2000 companies with the means to invest in multi-year transformation initiatives and highly talented DevOps teams.

But now that containers are moving past the initial stages of innovation and adoption and into early maturity, the timing is right for midmarket organizations to step up their efforts to benefit from this technology.

Not only are containers working better out of the box, but they are also increasingly being delivered as-a-service and consumed with ease. That maturity, along with well-defined APIs and stable features, make them a ready-to-use technology that is a better fit for midsize IT shops seeking to get their desired end result accomplished as efficiently as possible.

Whether you are a small retail chain, educational institution, municipal agency, or analytics shop serving your industry, leveraging the benefits of Kubernetes and containers is now much more easily within reach.

[ Why does Kubernetes matter to IT leaders? Learn more about Red Hat's point of view. ]

By 2025, more than 85 percent of global organizations will be running containerized applications in production. For anyone just starting to approach a container strategy, here are three reasons the time is right for developers at smaller organizations to take advantage of the benefits:

1. Stability provides innovation with purpose

We’ve moved through the headiest days of experimentation in Kubernetes to a steadier state of innovation with purpose. And that ladders up to making it more functional and easier to consume.

As a technology – whether that means containers themselves, Kubernetes-as-a-platform, or extensions of Kubernetes – there’s considerably more maturity than there was just a few years ago. Most offerings based on Kubernetes are in their third generation. The standards bodies in the industry, like the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), have done a good job standardizing on certain APIs, which are now being delivered with increasing regularity. So, there is greater stability in APIs and reliability in the software. Additionally, the industry has consolidated to fewer vendors, and thus there’s less divergence for midmarket enterprises to consider.

We've moved through the headiest days of experimentation in Kubernetes to a steadier state of innovation with purpose.

2. With portability comes economy

Containers enable applications to be built so that they are easy to run in multiple environments. Essentially, they are an application packaging mechanism. And because the major clouds support Kubernetes, it is future-proof and flexible, enabling portability across many environments, without vendor lock-in.

They are also a very elastic resource: More containers are spawned when more users appear, and then disappear when those users leave – like a balloon that expands and contracts. Yet the shared infrastructure is the same so there is much better cost utilization – i.e., there’s much higher utilization of the underlying infrastructure for a variable number of users.

[ Also read: 5 Kubernetes trends to watch in 2022. ]

In the past, an IT team might say, “Well, we’re going to peak at about 100 users, so we need to build the infrastructure to size it to 100 users.” But because containers can run anywhere, they can now start in one place and if they run out of infrastructure, they can migrate somewhere else.

3. Flexible consumption, ease of use lower barriers to entry

Mid-sized IT shops are challenged with driving innovation while living with the reality of smaller budgets and teams. That means they are more consumers of IT infrastructure than builders and maintainers of it.

The good news is that present-day Kubernetes and containers are so modular – more like a Lego kit than a collection of scattered pieces – that accessibility has been democratized. And the big cloud providers are now offering Kubernetes platforms as a service with packaged offerings that are a lot easier to consume.

From class schedules to e-commerce applications and more, mid-size organizations with applications whose content changes often are discovering the benefits that Kubernetes and containers deliver: transforming them from being monolithic to dynamic and highly responsive.

The bottom line: The progress that has been made in Kubernetes and containers over the last few years has opened doors for smaller teams to be smart consumers and integrators of IT. They can adopt tools that have become more mainstream, lowering the risk of failure and providing more confidence in achieving outcomes that can power an organization forward.

[ How can automation free up more staff time for innovation? Get the free eBook: Managing IT with Automation. ] 

Murli Thirumale is General Manager of Pure Storage's Cloud-Native Business Unit - Portworx, where he is responsible for strategy, operations, and solutions that deliver multi-cloud data services for Kubernetes. He holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where he was an F.C. Austin Distinguished Scholar.