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How does Kubernetes Save Cloud Spend?

Containerization of software applications is a major disruption of the decade in the IT industry. Software containers could automate deployment and management of multiple distributed applications across multiple physical and/ or virtual machines including the cloud space.

In the meantime, the birth of Kubernetes could shift the developers’ focus and effort from managing machines to managing applications. Container Orchestration with Kubernetes could greatly simplify system scaling and management. Next, with the Kubernetes on cloud and with its multi-cloud portability could open the businesses to control over their cloud technology accelerating the trend towards cloud-native software development. All above were well-known facts within the industry. However, the less-discussed is how Kubernetes affects cloud financial management which we will be discussing today in this article.

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Cloud Cost Saving Benefits of Kubernetes

Decrease in Administration and Operations Cost

Kubernetes control plane can make global decisions about the cluster and as well as can detect and respond to cluster events. The Kubernetes control plane is made up of Kube API server, etcd, Kube-scheduler, Kube Controller Manager, and Kube Cloud Manager components that perform a sheer number of fine-grained administrative and operational tasks indirectly associating with container management, otherwise would have performed through system administrators and operational teams.

The Kube API Server overlooks the change of state of the cluster and manages admission control.  The etcd – cluster database; reliably stores cluster configuration and dynamic information related to the cluster status. The Kube-Scheduler continuously evaluates the requirements of the pods and schedules the pods to nodes accordingly. It is also the component that takes care of hardware, software, and policy constraints. The Kube Controller Manager constantly monitors the state of the cluster and also undertakes communications if a node goes offline. The Kube Cloud Manager runs controllers in link with underlying cloud providers managing tasks such as load balancing, storage volumes, etc.

So, it is clear that Kubernetes lifts a major chunk of the administrative and operational burden from Ops teams related to physical resources, networking, and storage, enabling you to better allocate ops time to customer support queries. Further, investing in open-source Kubernetes may help you downsize Ops teams saving your costs for managing excess admins. 

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Decrease in Resource Management Cost

Kubernetes gives you the necessary options to manage all key resources such as compute, memory, and storage. This means that Kubernetes has all the necessary tools to scale up and down the resources as your clusters scale in and out. More importantly, the Kubernetes resource management model covers all the levels including the container, pod, and cluster levels.

As an example for container level resource management, when you specify a resource limit for a container, the kubelet in the worker nodes assigns at least the requested amount of system resources for that container and also sets a resource limit as per your specification for not to exceed the assigned resource limit. So, by setting different requests/limit ratios, you can create best-effort, burstable, and guaranteed pod classes to diverse conditions. Therefore, you do not need to concern about excessive costs incurring as a result of over-allocation of resources.

Additionally, Kubernetes supports namespaces for multi-application and multi-user environments and also resource quotas on namespaces. So, cluster admins can easily and effectively control overall resource consumption across all the containers running in a given namespace. These features not only reduce resource management costs but also ensures resource availability throughout the applications’ lifecycles.

Improves your time to market

Kubernetes uses container technology. Containers, unlike VMs, do not require duplication of heavy OS images to run many applications. All you will need is a single host, meaning massive cost savings.

Also, the declarative form of Kubernetes deployments using kubectl apply and by writing manifests can fast pace deployments. This declarative way lets you set up reproducible deployments, thus, increasing the time-to-market value of your applications.

High Availability Insurance

Application downtime can cost customer confidence as well as may incur financial losses for you. Kubernetes has designed to address high availability in both infrastructure and application levels. The “etcd” storage layer on the Kubernetes Master component ensures the stateful workloads are highly available. Moreover, the ability to configure the Master component in the Kubernetes control plane to multi-node replication (multi-master) also ensures high availability of master nodes and, as well as availability zones.

Additionally, Kubernetes runs multiple pod replicas and maintains the number of application instances that you need. The liveliness and readiness probes repeatedly check the health of pods and if they are serving traffic. Moreover, Kubernetes does not delete previous versions of your application if you have not yet started a new version.

Kubernetes Cloud Cost Optimization Opportunities

Even though the above Kubernetes benefits automatically save bucks from your software development projects, the next step is to evaluate how you can further optimize Kubernetes costs, if possible. The good news is, Kubernetes is flexible with multiple optimization controllers. The following mentions the three primary Kubernetes cost optimization methodologies that you should definitely apply to save on cloud spend.

Pod Rightsizing (Resource Requests and Limits)

You can optimize more of your cloud spend if you monitor your pod usage and application performance as a practice. So, you can use that data to rightsize your pods by adjusting resource requests and limits. You may also use the Vertical Pod Autoscaler (VPA) for pod rightsizing.

Node Rightsizing

Node rightsizing is important as wasted or unused resources in nodes leading to an increase in the number of pods in the node can cause huge decreases in reliability and speed of operations. So, impose mechanisms to identify underutilized infrastructure and to assist you in downgrading such assets.

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Identifying underutilized resources or the number of pods and nodes that best fitting service is challenging. But, Kubernetes offers Horizontal Pod Autoscaler that lets you scale in or out the number of pods based on the pod CPU or memory utilization you observe. You can use the Cluster Autoscaler to add or remove pods from the cluster, based upon the utilization metrics of both the pod and node.

Final Thoughts to Save Cloud Spend

As highlighted from the above points, cloud-native software development can save considerably both financially as well as on ops time if you invest to host your distributed applications using Kubernetes. The underlying containerization technology in Kubernetes delivers faster CI/CD pipelines, low maintenance costs, and better coordination between engineering teams. Kubernetes packs many useful tools that can further optimize to save cloud spend including, but not limited to autoscaling, cluster scheduling, pod and node rightsizing, etc.

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