By: Mohamad Rizk, Regional Director, Middle East and CIS at Veeam Software
The use of containers in businesses is exploding around the world. Kubernetes, the de facto platform for container orchestration today, is an open source container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, management, and scaling of containerized applications. A Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) survey found that 92% of companies surveyed are running containers in production, and 83% of those deployments are using Kubernetes. The Middle East is not far behind! According to findings from the Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2022, 69% of organizations in the UAE and 76% of organizations in Saudi Arabia are already using containers in production, while 29% and 22% respectively plan to do so within the next 12 months.
Why containers and Kubernetes?
The benefits of a virtualized infrastructure are well documented. Greater workload mobility, resource availability, automated operations, and increased performance are all benefits of virtualization that make IT easier to manage and less expensive to own and operate. Containers are a leaner, more agile way to manage virtualization. Without the need for a hypervisor, organizations using containers can benefit from faster resource provisioning and faster availability of new applications. Instead of dedicating an operating system to each application, multiple applications can run independently of each other on the same operating system, which means less hardware and licenses and reduced load on servers.
Containers and Kubernetes have greatly simplified operations for DevOps teams. Previously, to create a virtual machine or to provision a physical server, developers had to talk to several different units, including the infrastructure team, backup administrators, and network administrators. With containers and Kubernetes, this workflow is no longer necessary. The developers have become the A team and are responsible for everything. The infrastructure team still needs to provide physical servers and set up the layer of Kubernetes and hypervisors, but they are no longer needed to build new applications or the resources needed by applications. All of this means companies can bring new applications and technologies to market, internally or externally, much faster. The provisioning phase of any application – the test and its passage from the development stage to the production stage – now takes place in a very short time.
Moreover, with the acceleration of application deployments, companies very often face huge server workloads. For high availability, Kubernetes can move from one cluster or node or server to another very easily, making processing faster and more efficient. It optimizes response time and evenly distributes tasks to avoid overloading compute nodes. Kubernetes can balance the load by creating more microservices and containers to meet excess load. When the load decreases, these containers are removed.
Simply put, what Kubernetes has done is decouple the application from the data and the underlying infrastructure. The repeatable service and the repeatable function becomes an independent piece of code that can be replicated on any number of servers, on any infrastructure or on any site, which would give organizations and their customers a lot more agility, resilience and much faster access. market. Kubernetes enables organizations to build self-healing applications with high availability.
Kubernetes in the Middle East
The companies we talk to in the Middle East have a good understanding of Kubernetes. It’s not just a buzzword – like in the early days of the Cloud, companies used the term “Cloud” quite loosely when saying they were migrating to Private Cloud or Public Cloud, when most time they wanted to say that they were going to virtualize their environment. With Kubernetes, however, regional businesses now have skilled teams (skills are quite unique in this space) and since it’s controlled by developers and not infrastructure teams, there’s a much better and deeper understanding which ultimately leads to high quality deployments.
In Saudi Arabia, which is the largest IT market in the region, government agencies are the top users of Kubernetes technologies, followed by banks and financial institutions. Typically, these organizations have a large number of users of digital services. The reasons for the high adoption rates are clear.
Government entities providing public services cannot predict the number of users who will access their services. If they decide to go with a traditional computing model of physical infrastructure and virtualization and estimate that a maximum of 50,000 users will access their systems, then they will have to pay upfront for an infrastructure capable of accommodating all these users, implying an undesirably high CAPEX. . With Kubernetes, as explained earlier, because services and applications are decoupled from data and the operating system, these services can scale easily and the customer does not need to make a huge upfront investment to have dedicated physical servers. for each application. or service or each operating system. The self-healing aspect of a Kubernetes environment is another big plus. Any malfunctioning microservice or replica of a microservice can be restarted easily without affecting the overall service. Self-healing results in better uptime in terms of service availability for customers and end users.
The competitive nature of the banking and finance industry is an important driver for Kubernetes adoption. Banks are constantly trying to be first to market with innovative applications and services. Kubernetes bypasses the laborious application provisioning cycle, making it quick and easy to build applications.
Protecting Kubernetes Environments
There is no doubt that the attack surface is increasing as more companies adopt containers and perform their orchestration using Kubernetes. The complexity that early adopters find is the lack of data management and integrity when it comes to protecting Kubernetes and container workloads. Kubernetes and containers are often compared to virtual machines, but this is a very different approach. It is very focused on a different character. The person who takes care of the container lifecycle in a Kubernetes environment is not your traditional operating infrastructure administrator. They focus on the application and have more of a DevOps function, but also understand the platform the application resides on. Bringing the infrastructure or platform closer to the application has its own advantages anyway. But this same approach means that data integrity must be considered differently than how we approach backing up virtual machines. Kubernetes environments require an application-centric approach rather than an infrastructure-centric one. That’s why regional companies should look into modern data protection technologies that work with a wide range of application stacks and Kubernetes deployment methods, like Veeam’s Kasten K10 for example, that complement this ability to protect these new cloud-native workloads.