To say that the use of containers has revolutionized how applications are designed and deployed would be an understatement. Gone are the days of applications being run on physical servers, as due to the issues with resource management, the alternative of using virtual machines to run multiple applications on a single CPU provides vastly more flexibility to developers. One downside of virtualization, however, is that these virtual machines are considered rather “heavy.” Each VM is a fully-functional machine, running a full OS in addition to whatever virtualized hardware is added on. In environments where each server’s CPU may have multiple virtual machines running, the same issue occurs; high resource usage.
To solve this problem, the use of containerized software has become common. Containers share the same OS instance as the host machine, as opposed to a VM, which has an entirely separate OS. This leads to a multitude of benefits, such as reducing image storage size. While a VM uses images multiple gigabytes large, container images are much smaller; often measured in megabytes. Additionally, containers are entirely independent, meaning they are much more easily portable, which leads to faster and easier deployment.
One major drawback to containers is the upkeep. Containers must have a specific amount of resources added to them, such as memory usage, while also, like anything else, can fail and need repair.
Enter Kubernetes; an open source platform designed to automatically conduct these maintenance tasks. Kubernetes uses clusters as the basis for their infrastructure, each containing nodes which run and manage the application. Control plane nodes manage scheduling, the API server, and other services. Worker nodes are where applications are actually run, with larger applications using more worker nodes than smaller ones.
If such a platform is so valuable, why are so many positions left unfilled? Because jobs working with Kubernetes are hard.
On the one hand, developing and maintaining applications with Kubernetes requires experienced engineers, and time. The nature of the environment simply demands developers have the knowledge and experience to implement it.
On the other hand, because Kubernetes is such a new technology, the field is rapidly evolving, requiring developers to evolve along with it. Each change requires testing and optimization, as well as programmers needing to continue to broaden their expertise.
Why is this problematic? In addition to creating a work environment prone to causing burnout among employees, engineers working in this field can outgrow their positions quickly. As they gain more experience and widen their skillset, many move on to positions that offer higher pay. According to Forbes, Kubernetes engineers spend an average of just 18 months in their positions before moving on.
This creates a cycle; engineers are hired to work on Kubernetes platforms, hold their positions for a short while, and either due to the intense workload, higher paying positions, or a mix of both, move on. This leaves an opening in their previous position, which must be filled by a new hire. Rinse and repeat.
Budhani, Haseeb. “Council Post: Addressing the Kubernetes Skills Gap.” Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2023/05/10/addressing-the-kubernetes-skills-gap/?sh=2a1430223f42. Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.
“Overview.” Kubernetes, kubernetes.io/docs/concepts/overview/. Accessed 19 Nov. 2023.
Poulton, Nigel. “What Is Kubernetes, and Why Should I Learn It?” Www.pluralsight.com, 2 Jan. 2023, http://www.pluralsight.com/blog/cloud/what-is-kubernetes#:~:text=Kubernetes%20is%20notorious%20for%20having. Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.
From the blog Butler Software Construction, Design, and Architecture by Griffin Butler and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.