How To

The Why and How of Container Orchestration

June 28, 2023 | min

Stacks of containers overlayed with digital mapping exemplify the process of container orchestration in IT

Modern IT systems need to accommodate more data and more applications than ever before. In doing so, IT systems use containers to ensure continued operations and consume fewer resources. Although reliance on containers can create new challenges, orchestration can alleviate many problems related to app development.

Key Takeaways:

  • The adoption of orchestration tools simplifies an otherwise complex environment of containers.
  • Orchestration relies on the open-source Kubernetes system, which uses a control plane to deploy clusters to facilitate the management of containers within individual nodes.
  • Proper orchestration of containers helps all moving parts in modern app development keep pace with the agility and dynamism of hybrid cloud technology and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

Businesses can maximize their investments in containers and orchestration by understanding why and how they work together to future-proof IT environments.

What is container orchestration?

Containerization is a modern solution to the problems that physical hardware limitations can cause. By packaging software into remotely-accessible containers, it is possible to bypass restrictions and run an operating system in the public cloud and from other locations.

Although containers are lightweight and convenient, the execution of a single application can involve an overwhelming volume of containers. Container orchestration automates the deployment, networking, scaling, and management of containers in large numbers.

Kubernetes is an open-source orchestration platform for managing containers in the enterprise setting. Platforms that use Kubernetes are rapidly-growing and highly-supported, with operators that can configure storage orchestration and automate containerization processes to their own specifications.

A report from BMC indicates that 87% of industry IT professionals use container technologies and that 65% of organizations use two or more orchestration tools. Businesses weighing the decision of whether or not to adopt container orchestration can determine if they should by gaining a deeper understanding of why and how to implement it.  

Why do businesses need container orchestration?

As many organizations embrace DevOps, specifically bringing developers and operators closer together for greater agility, they must adopt the necessary tools. Orchestration does this by introducing automation to an environment that prioritizes speed and efficiency.

Proper orchestration also streamlines cloud-native application development. Businesses that seek cost-efficiency, scalability and flexibility in a cloud-native future can also find those same benefits in containerization and orchestration.

Other key benefits of implementing orchestration tools include:

  • Simplifying the complexity created by a vast number of containers
  • Secure automation, free from human error
  • Resilience through orchestrated scaling or restarting when problems arise within containers

Container orchestration can also help containers reach their full potential. This includes the portability and optimized resource utilization brought by the proper deployment of containers.

How does container orchestration work?

Knowing how to implement orchestration starts with understanding the components of a Kubernetes cluster. These main components are:

  • The nodes are where work takes place. Each node hosts pods that make up the application workload.
  • The control plane manages all nodes in the cluster. Control planes typically exist across multiple computers in a production environment.

Although Kubernetes is an open-source solution, re-architecting an IT environment is often costly. The common approach is to work with a platform provider that will help install and configure a unique orchestration platform with Kubernetes as its base. The configuration instructs the tool on where to find containers and store related logs, as well as how to establish a container network, all in accordance with a business’s needs.  

How can container orchestration facilitate modern app development?

The application development process is rapidly evolving, meaning that companies must adopt the most modern technology. Cloud-native solutions comprise the present and future of development, and Kubernetes-powered orchestration helps make it possible.

Modern development is dynamic, and takes place across private, public and hybrid clouds. Management of this development must be efficient so that all moving parts can work together in harmony. The best way to achieve this is by running comprehensive container orchestration on HCI.

Agility and efficiency are vital in the modern climate, so many companies have begun moving certain business-critical apps away from on-premises data centers and into the cloud. 

This complete migration to cloud-native methodologies is possible through advancements in containerization, orchestration and virtualization. It serves to hasten app delivery and streamline internal processes, rapidly putting products in the hands of consumers.

What container orchestration solutions are available?

Orchestration is meant to create simplicity for operators. But when searching for the right orchestration platform provider, simplicity is not the only thing to consider. It is also necessary to consider how a provider handles installation and how they resolve any problems that arise once the product is up and running.

The Nutanix Kubernetes Engine (NKE) offers simplicity through comprehensiveness. NKE offers a complete containerization solution while also enabling businesses to deploy clusters in minutes, as opposed to days and weeks. As part of the Nutanix stack, NKE also capitalizes on HCI and blends seamlessly into a cloud-native environment. 

Containerization is a necessary practice, but one that becomes uncontrollably complex as data and applications multiply. Container orchestration should not allow this complexity to be visible to the operator — rather, orchestration should be simple enough to allow for focus on important outcomes. 

Learn more about the role containers play in simplifying data management in a hybrid cloud and how Kubernetes nodes can scale and expand with Nutanix Cloud Clusters.

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