Kubernetes adoption continues to rise, according to CNCF Survey 2019

Kubernetes is a game-changing technology in the world of container orchestration. Its adoption has seen a meteoric rise in production use since its release in 2014.

A 2019 survey conducted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) — the organization that governs Kubernetes development — reports that 78% of the 1,337 respondents are using Kubernetes in production. The Kubernetes adoption percentage is a 20% increase from 2018, and coincides with the data that 84% of respondents are using containers in production.

Containers are a powerful way to isolate the hundreds, if not thousands of processes that run on a single machine from each other. However, container creation and interaction management has grown beyond manual capabilities and requires some sort of automated framework. Kubernetes meets this need head-on and its expedited growth is no doubt a direct result of these automated capabilities.

In addition, the rate of adoption for ancillary technologies created to extend the power of Kubernetes has also grown. For example, 20% of survey respondents said they use service mesh technology in production, while half are evaluating it for use after their Kubernetes adoption.

Service mesh adoption continues to grow

Service mesh adoption is a big deal because it adds a layer of management in terms of how Kubernetes services interact with each other. Also, a service mesh controls which requests come in from outside the cluster — also known as an ingress — can access services that run within the cluster. In addition, a service mesh can control calls made from within the cluster to target URLs on the outside — also known as an egress. Finally, service mesh technology provides fail-safety features that support retry and failover configuration, rate limits and quotas as well as a robust set of observability metrics.

While this combination of features into a singular technology has benefits, it also comes with an increased degree of systems management complexity. Yet, as the survey numbers show, companies are willing to accept this power vs. complexity tradeoff to reap the benefits at hand.

Surprising growth in serverless technology adoption

One surprising number from the 2019 survey is the growth of serverless adoption. It turns out the 51% of survey respondents are using serverless technologies. One of the first serverless offerings was AWS Lamba, which was introduced in 2014. Kubernetes was made available via open source around the same time.

Whereas in Kubernetes the deployment unit is the container, in serverless computing the deployment unit is the function. Serverless computing, also known as function as a service is a fundamentally different way to approach systems design. Developers deploy a function to the cloud and wire in access to the function accordingly. Then, the public or private cloud provider makes sure the function is identifiable, accessible and operational at scale.

Several companies, organizations and technologies have emerged in the serverless computing space, such as Serverless.com, which provides open-source products for the serverless community, and Fission, an open-source product that helps make writing and deploying serverless functions against a Kubernetes cluster a straightforward process driven from the command line.

And, there’s the KNative initiative. KNative is a set of products and services that supports Kubernetes in a serverless computing environment. Although KNative was started by Google, the initiative today is a collaboration of open-source contributions from more than 50 companies.

Put it all together

Clearly there’s a lot of activity on the Kubernetes adoption landscape. Interest continues to grow along with the number of products and services that make computing under Kubernetes more powerful.

Kubernetes will continue to be an important technology in the IT ecosystem. It’s been embraced not only as a foundational framework for container-based distributed computing, but the addition of KNative and similar technologies makes it viable for serverless computing initiatives.

Kubernetes is here to stay, and given the recent trends described in the CNCF Survey 2019, it’s a technology that is poised to grow in adoption for the foreseeable future.