Kubernetes for startups: Why, when, and how to adopt  

As the most popular solution for container orchestration and management, businesses of all kinds adopt Kubernetes to increase automation and reduce IT costs. Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) published a State of Cloud Native Development Report that found that 5.6 million developers now use Kubernetes, a 67% increase over one year. Despite its popularity, Kubernetes is a complex system that’s not right for every business or use case.

Kubernetes works well for organizations that have complex applications consisting of multiple services running in different containers, which is why it’s so popular for large businesses. But what about your growing startup? To find out if adopting Kubernetes is right for your business, start with evaluating why you need it, where you are in development, and what your strategy is for implementation.

Why adopt Kubernetes: Scale and grow with less friction

Startups planning for high-growth should build their application in a way that allows them to achieve their goals with the least amount of added cost and friction. One way to do this is through Kubernetes. Using microservices instead of a huge monolithic architecture allows organizations to be more flexible in development, and Kubernetes enables companies to scale easily and deploy software quickly.

Kubernetes improves resource utilization, shortens software development cycles, and helps integrate new employees into the team by allowing them to work on a fragment of the software. And because its self-healing and auto-scaling capabilities can ensure high reliability and great uptimes and response times, it often improves the user experience by improving product quality and stability.

The adoption of Kubernetes is growing within small and medium tech companies. A variety of applications run on Kubernetes, including video, content, mobile back-end, SaaS, blockchain, fintech, and crypto. If you’re planning to scale, it makes sense to invest in Kubernetes early on. Even if you’re just deploying a single simple web application within the cluster, planning for the future means building your infrastructure carefully, enabling your team to move quickly a year or three down the line. Implementing Kubernetes at the right time early on can help you avoid being trapped in technical debt that prevents your business from responding quickly and adequately in an ever-changing market.

When to adopt Kubernetes: Take action at the right moment

Startups need to be two things: Agile and Scalable. Businesses still in the proof of concept stage often need to pivot as they learn, quickly making significant changes in strategy or architecture. Adopting Kubernetes takes considerable time to implement. Taking the time away from product development to implement Kubernetes risks slowing down production time. The benefits of Kubernetes — scalability and stability — aren’t applicable for the earliest stages of development, and focusing on things that will be more impactful in the short term is a better use of your time. In the early stages, focus on product validation, and build MVPs as fast and as simple as possible to get feedback. Focusing attention on things like configuration management, CI/CD, auto-scaling, and service mesh will distract you from your primary goal: building the best application you can build.

Consider adopting Kubernetes once you’ve found a product-market-fit, have a working application, and the next step is to scale, but before you’ve built a complicated system that’s difficult to migrate. At this inflection point, you will need to commit to rebuilding parts of your system. It might be tempting to delay implementation until after the next round of funding, the next feature release, or another artificial milestone, but don’t wait. Adopting Kubernetes before you reach a massive scale will be faster and easier for you.

How to adopt Kubernetes: Have a clear strategy for implementation

The complexity of Kubernetes can be a barrier to implementation for many startups. Putting together a clear strategy can help your team stay on track throughout the implementation process, save time, and make good decisions about what’s necessary for your business. Keep simplicity at the forefront as you make decisions about features and configurations.

Consider using open source and pre-made solutions. The Kubernetes community is a vibrant open source community, offering many great solutions for a variety of needs. Start with these solutions and build from them to save time and establish best practices for your organization.

Managing self-hosted clusters requires expertise, time, and resources that many small businesses lack. Consider using a public cloud and implementing a managed offering. Managed offerings like DigitalOcean Managed Kubernetes do the heavy-lifting by continuously monitoring your Kubernetes Control Plane to make sure you are always able to access and deploy to your cluster. Leveraging a managed version of Kubernetes also allows developers and businesses to take advantage of containerized application deployment, leading to a faster time to market.

For example, Hack the Box uses DigitalOcean Managed Kubernetes to scale their platform and successfully host thousands of users at a time. James Hooker, CTO, had this to say “The fact that it’s so easy to configure, administrate and scale with DigitalOcean is something which I love. I’ve worked with Kubernetes before, hands-on, self-hosted, but the DigitalOcean integration and provision of Kubernetes has been the most seamless that I’ve experienced so far. “

Try DigitalOcean Kubernetes

If you’re interested in learning more about DigitalOcean Managed Kubernetes or have questions about migrating from another cloud provider or what your total costs will be on DigitalOcean once you start scaling, schedule a meeting with our team of experts who can help answer any questions you have.


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