How Kubernetes Proves that Open Source Is the Future

One notable involvement of Microsoft in the field of open source is in the Kubernetes project. In 2018, Microsoft Senior Software Engineer Michelle Noorali spoke at LinuxCon in China, where she expressed full support in the understanding and adoption of Kubernetes.

“In the case of Kubernetes, you have to learn what a pod is; what is deployment, what’s a replica set. Before you even get to that, you have to learn about containers — how to build images and where to store images. I am working on making this whole situation a lot easier for developers to understand and use,” Noorali said.

The widespread adoption of Kubernetes is a good demonstration of the significance of open source in the future of software and even the internet. It shows the benefits are real and the expected drawbacks are insignificant.

Minimal obstacles lead to a vast user community

Kubernetes is now the leading container orchestration solution worldwide. According to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), there are over 109 tools for container management, and 89 percent of them are using versions of Kubernetes. This popularity is important because it entails undeniable advantages.

For one, many are enticed to use a solution that many others are using. Aside from the cost advantage—open source is free—there’s the implied assurance that the software is unlikely to be discontinued after some time. It will most likely be updated and maintained in response to the demand and feedback of a significant number of users.

Another important advantage of having a multitude of users is the large user community from which other users can ask for assistance or troubleshooting insights. It is not difficult to find how-to guides when software has numerous users. It is easy to obtain solutions on how to address a back-off restarting failed container in Kubernetes, for example. Many enthusiastic users and even Kubernetes-supporting companies readily share information for troubleshooting and other pertinent matters.

Organizations may shun open source software because of the confusing complexity, security issues, uncertainty of updates, dubious sources or lack of reputability, compatibility problems, and the lack of user support. These obstacles, however, are not that much of a problem especially with solutions like Kubernetes. Because many have already adopted this container orchestration system, it has established a solid foundation of benefits that render the obstacles insignificant.

Containerization is the future

Gartner projects that by 2022, 75 percent of organizations will already be using containerized applications. This is a massive growth compared to 30 percent in 2022. As more organizations adopt containers and make use of tools for orchestration and automation, it becomes necessary to turn to a dependable solution with a solid track record among users, enterprises in particular.

“As a result of the growing use of containers, enterprise demand for container management is increasing. Container management provides software and/or services that support the management of containers, at scale, in production environments,” Gartner wrote in a press release.

Containers are set to drive an open ecosystem. While revenues coming directly from container management software and services are expected to be only a small part of the container ecosystem revenue stream, enterprises can find more revenues from adjacent or vertical segments. According to Gartner, these segments include app development, managed services, as well as on-premises hardware and IaaS.

Kubernetes is in an incontrovertible position of being the leading containerization solution at present. As Red Hat Cloud Platforms Senior VP Ashesh Badani puts it, Kubernetes has become "the de facto standard for running containerized, cloud-native applications at scale, a critical part of the modern enterprise IT mix." CIOs and other decision or policymakers in the IT industry acknowledge the importance and even the influence of Kubernetes in the developer community.

It is unlikely for other containerization solutions to overtake let alone supplant the dominant position of Kubernetes. As such, this open-source solution is bound to have a remarkable impact on what’s to come for web applications and services. It will be very difficult for proprietary software advocates to convince users to return to the previous paradigm in software development and deployment.

Groundbreaking apps require next-gen cloud-native services

Modern applications are not the same as their older counterparts. Apps that are driven by AI or machine learning, for instance, operate with a new set of workloads that tend to be more complex and resource-intensive. Kubernetes has shown its crucial role in enabling these new workloads, serving as a central cohesive source of stability and support.

An excellent example of how Kubernetes enables modern applications is the collaboration between the Royal Bank of Canada, Borealis AI (an artificial intelligence research institute), and NVIDIA. This collaboration was created to transform customer banking and boost operational efficiency by providing intelligent mobile apps that take advantage of an AI infrastructure.

Kubernetes has played a role in enabling this collaboration by making it possible to handle unprecedented workloads and creating next-generation cloud-native services that would have been impossible or extremely difficult to achieve without advanced development technologies and methods including containerization.

The open-source nature of Kubernetes and the other tools involved in the operation of cutting-edge applications and web services make it easy for many developers and users to get on board. If developers remained fixated on proprietary software, the likelihood of partnerships to be forged would have been remote. Progress in building groundbreaking apps would have been stunted.

Kubernetes showing the open-source future

“Certainly there's a phenomenon around open source. You know free software will be a vibrant area. There will be a lot of neat things that get done there,” says Bill Gates, the billionaire who will forever be associated with Windows OS and Microsoft Office.

Despite being known for his leading proprietary software and having spoken against the idea of open-source until the 2000s, Gates understands how the times have changed. He and many Microsoft executives are now supportive of open source. In fact, they have started open sourcing some of their codes in the 2010s. The .NET Framework, for one, has already been made open source.

The openness of the world’s leading software developers to open-sourcing is a welcome development for software development. The cooperation between Microsoft and Kubernetes used to be unthinkable, but it is now a crystal clear reality that in a way drives the point that the future is indeed open-source.

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