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Is Kubernetes Right For Me? | DigitalOcean

Adam Wolfe Gordon

Posted: March 29, 20224 min read

Since its inception in 2014, Kubernetes has become a de facto standard for container orchestration. It’s being hailed as the new way to deploy and maintain your applications, but do you really need something like Kubernetes?

Choosing the right platform

Every choice has trade-offs, and it’s important to think through what’s most important to you and the success of your business. When considering whether or not your business needs Kubernetes, think about your use case. Do you have a complex application consisting of multiple services running in different containers, an area where Kubernetes really shines, or could a simpler solution support your current growth? Do you want complete control over your infrastructure, or are you comfortable giving up a little control in exchange for productivity and convenience?

An Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution, a Platform as a Service Solution, or a Managed Kubernetes solution are all excellent options for deployment platforms, each with its own benefits and considerations.

IaaS solutions: Bring your own everything

When using an IaaS solution like virtual machines, you manage everything. For example, DigitalOcean’s Droplets are Linux-based virtual machines, with storage in the form of either SSD or NVMe drives. They’re available in a variety of CPU and memory configurations, starting at $4 per month (check our pricing page for more details). Droplets are totally self-managed – you choose what you put on them, and you manage any software on them yourself. This means you can do anything you want with Droplets: they can run any software you like in any configuration. And DigitalOcean provides lots of tools like Load Balancers, Firewalls, and Volumes Block Storage that work with Droplets to help you build on top of them.

Virtual Machines have a couple of big advantages:

  • Familiarity: You can use all the Linux tools you already know, so there isn’t much of a learning curve when you’re just getting started. If you’re already comfortable with Linux, Droplets may be the fastest way to get your business off the ground.
  • Flexibility: You’re not constrained by any abstraction layers. You can install anything you want, and you have full control over how it runs.

The downside would be that you’ll need to install everything you need, as well as manage and upgrade it. Droplets don’t have any tooling built-in to help you with that, other than what comes with your Linux distribution of choice.

PaaS Solutions: Just bring your own code or containers

PaaS solutions abstract away some of the management requirements of virtual machines, allowing you to move more quickly and maintain a leaner team. One example of this type of solution is DigitalOcena’s App platform. It’s a fully managed container platform built on top of Kubernetes. That means developers don’t manage any of the details of the infrastructure. They only have to focus on their code. Building and deploying code with App Platform is automated.

PaaS solutions such as App Platform have several benefits:

  • Fully managed:  Just bring your code or your containers, App Platform builds them, runs them, gets traffic to them, and can also manage external components like databases for you.
  • Scalable - You can scale it up or down, and in or out, any time really easily.
  • Batteries included - Metrics, logs, databases, etc - that’s all taken care of for you.

The downside is, you lose some flexibility. It’s not totally portable, and the deployment configuration will be cloud provider specific.

Managed Kubernetes solutions: Run anything that runs on Kubernetes

DigitalOcean Kubernetes (DOKS) is a middle ground in terms of abstraction. It’s fully managed Kubernetes, and you can put whatever you need on top of it. It’s “vanilla” Kubernetes - only the Kubernetes infrastructure is managed for you, and DigitalOcean keeps everything as close to upstream as possible so anything that works on Kubernetes will work here. DigitalOcean Kubernetes also has a simple integration with the Container Registry, Block Storage, Load Balancers, and Firewalls using native Kubernetes mechanisms wherever possible.

Managed Kubernetes solutions like DigitalOcean Kubernetes have many benefits:

  • Managed: The biggest advantage of DigitalOcean Kubernetes is it’s managed: you don’t need to know how to build, operate, or maintain a Kubernetes cluster.
  • Flexibility: You can run anything that runs on Kubernetes, which is almost anything. There’s a huge community around Kubernetes; that means there are tons of tutorials, tools, and projects to help you run software on Kubernetes.
  • Scalability: You can create a cluster of up to 512 nodes, use any Droplet plans you want for those nodes, and use auto-scaling if you want.

It’s DigitalOcean Kubernetes, but it’s still Kubernetes, meaning that it’s still complex. DigitalOcean’s managed Kubernetes is as simple as possible, but simple Kubernetes still require significant learning.

Changing platforms as your business grows

You can build a successful business on any of the platforms. We have customers running successful businesses on all of them and they’re all great platforms. For example, here’s how Atom learning uses DigitalOcean Kubernetes, Adeva uses App platform, and Zuar uses Droplets.

Businesses aren’t tied forever to the deployment platform they choose. In the earliest stages, startups can begin with solutions like Droplets to enjoy the flexibility that it offers. Consider switching from Droplets to a solution like App Platform when you need more automation, and switching to a solution like Managed Kubernetes when you need more flexibility or need to significantly scale.

Looking forward

DigitalOcean supports all types of applications, from basic websites to complex Software as a Service solutions. To sign up for a DigitalOcean account, click here. If you have questions about things like migrating from another cloud provider, or what your total costs will be on DigitalOcean once you start scaling, you can schedule a meeting with our team of experts who can help answer any questions you have.


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