Kubernetes is more than orchestration, it’s shifting power to app developers and owners

Blue outline of a cloud with transistor lines running through it.

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Read any manual or article, and you will come to understand Kubernetes — affectionately called K8s — as “an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.”

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It serves as an orchestration engine for all the containers arising across the application landscape, enabling them to run anywhere, anytime, without the need for heavy-handed IT support — or any support at all.

At the same time, it is serving to shift the balance of power away from a cloud world dominated by a few mega tech providers. This has implications for both development and operations roles in enterprises.

That’s the word from Ajay Patel, senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s modern applications group. I had the opportunity to sit down with Patel at VMware’s recent Explore event from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1, where he talked about the implications for developers and application owners alike.

Cloud is here, as is Kubernetes and containers, which essentially liberates applications from any underlying infrastructure.

Kubernetes “is changing the power base, from the clouds owning the future, to developers and enterprise owners having full control of what clouds to use,” he continued. “Before you were stuck to the cloud. Kubernetes is unlocking and putting the power back in the hands of the enterprise customers and the developers.”

Today’s application platforms, built on containers and Kubernetes running microservices and connecting to APIs, are rapidly becoming the norm.

This abstraction, or virtualization of applications, even extends to the cloud itself, Patel states. “You’re virtualizing the cloud by providing not just the lowest common denominator, but a way to deploy the best applications on the right cloud. Using technologies like Kubernetes and containers gives you the portability you’re looking for.” Cloud itself, he adds, is the “new hardware.”

“The world is moving to programmable infrastructure, using policy as a way to manage technology,” he says. “Everything has code. Using an application operation mindset, shifting as much as the management and security left, while hiding the complexity from developers — that’s the magic.”

Though underlying protocols, plumbing, and cloud-based infrastructure may be abstracted away, developers and application owners still need to be concerned with the viability of the apps or services they build and deploy.

Patel notes that this process, or AppOps, teams up developers and owners to ensure the continuous health of applications. This is becoming even more critical as IT staff may not be available to ensure their viability.

“IT may be the cloud,” he says. “Because I’m running on the cloud. I don’t own IT. I’m the application owner, I’m deploying on the cloud. I have a thin operations team in my organization.”

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