Kubernetes is the key to the cloud, but cost containment is critical

What is driving the growth of open source container orchestrator Kubernetes? A Pepperdata study shows how companies use K8 and the challenges they face in controlling cloud costs.

Image: LuckyStep/Adobe Stock

With the rush to the cloud enterprise comes increasing use of Kubernetes to power applications on the web. A recent study by big data monitoring firm Pepperdata looked at both the growth in Kubernetes usage and how companies are addressing it from the cost and revenue fronts.

Pepperdata’s The State of Kubernetes 2023 report found that, on average, organizations deploy between three and 10 Kubernetes clusters. It also revealed that the use of the open source container orchestration system is expanding into data ingestion, cleansing and analysis, databases and artificial intelligence and machine learning.

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Pepperdata, in its survey of 800 C-level executives and DevOps professionals working in financial services, healthcare, technology, and advertising, asked:

  • How many K8 cluster organizations they run.
  • What types of workloads they deploy to K8s containers.
  • Challenges companies face when adopting Kubernetes.
  • How companies measure the ROI of their K8 implementations.
  • Where companies are on their FinOps journey.

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Kubernetes: Deployment beyond microservices is driving wider use

As Kubernetes reaches maturity and becomes an industry standard for container orchestration, its uses are also expanding beyond its primary application as a mothership for microservices. The study found that:

  • 30% of executives reported having between three and five K8 implementations.
  • 38% reported six to 10 groups.
  • Nearly 15% said they had between 11 and 25 groups.
  • 4% reported having deployed more than 25 clusters.

In terms of how companies implement Kubernetes for specific workloads, Pepperdata found:

  • 61% of companies surveyed use Kubernetes to implement data ingestion, cleansing, and analysis through software such as Apache Spark.
  • 59% use Kubernetes to implement databases or data caching through platforms like PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Redis.
  • 58% reported using Kubernetes on web servers such as NGINX.
  • 54% said they are deploying AI/ML software such as Python, TensorFlow, and PyTorch on Kubernetes.
  • 48% said they use Kubernetes for programming languages ​​like Node.js and Java.
  • 42% reported using Kubernetes for logging and monitoring through programs like Elastic and Splunk.
  • 35% said they are deploying application servers with Kubernetes.

Microservices are still a good proxy for Kubernetes deployment

Pepperdata’s study suggests that organizations will adopt Kubernetes in greater numbers, given their plans to implement microservices such as NGINX. Forty-four percent of respondents said they plan to do so this year, while 36% said they have already implemented microservices, and just 20% said they had no plans to.

Additionally, the majority of respondents said that Kubernetes provides them with a strong foundational architecture for microservices, enabling applications to be deployed faster and supporting platform consistency across development, test, staging, and production clusters.

Looking at Kubernetes with an eye on ROI

Pepperdata found that among respondents, implementation cost was the top metric for measuring Kubernetes ROI, and the findings suggest that nearly 44% of organizations are looking for ways to implement cloud cost reduction.

After cost, top-line growth (54%), resource usage (49%), followed by deployment frequency (48%), developer productivity (46%), infrastructure utilization ( 35%) and IT staff productivity savings (25%). were key ROI metrics. Enterprises have reported that they expect Kubernetes to increase ROI by reducing administrative and operational burden, speeding up deployment times, and making resource management more efficient.

Cost surprises are a key challenge for K8s

When Pepperdata surveyed IT leaders about the challenges they faced in adopting Kubernetes:

  • 57% said they had significant or unexpected spending on cloud computing, storage network infrastructure and IaaS.
  • 56% cited the learning curve for employees to improve their skills in operations and security in Kubernetes environments.
  • 52% noted limited support for stateful apps (such as apps that save customer data).
  • 50% said lack of visibility into Kubernetes spend.

Organizations walk towards reducing costs in the cloud

In its FinOps performance study, the FinOps Foundation, among other things, defines levels of familiarity with FinOps from crawling to walking to running. In the Pepperdata study, most respondents self-identified in the walking stage.

The study said that nearly all respondents were familiar with cloud cost optimization, while 32% characterized themselves as “crawling.” The majority (43%) said they are “walking,” meaning they have the ability to implement cloud cost reduction recommendations today. Seventeen percent self-reported as “running,” meaning they are actively cutting costs through autonomous procedures. Six percent said it hasn’t started.

Interestingly, more than 98% of respondents indicated being familiar with FinOps and seeing themselves somewhere in the continuum of implementing best practices for cloud cost remediation. Additionally, more than 17% of respondents identified themselves in the execution stage, with the ability to remediate cloud costs autonomously.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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