Kubernetes is not for operations

18 Sep 2019 · Four minute read · on Gianluca's blog

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I work in tech from 8 years. It is not a lot but it is something. I started as a PHP developer doing CMS with MySQL and things like that.

Where I saw what I was capable to do with a set of API requests to AWS I enjoyed it and I moved to what people called DevOps probably.

I like communities and people so Docker was everywhere and I became a Docker Captain for my passion about delivery, and development workflow, containers but with always developers in mind. That’s what I like do to. Write code.

The complexity not hidden behind Kubernetes, or not solved by who runs Kubernetes in your company creates that friction.

Everyone that was/is in the containers space more or less touched Kubernetes. I did it, I enjoyed to look at the patterns used by it like control theory, reconciliation loops and so on.

In the last couple of years I saw a lot of company moving to Kubernetes and I worked on that path in InfluxData as well. Yes we use Kubernetes obviously!

I have always sawed friction from developers forced to onboard Kubernetes (no developer will do it otherwise). First because everybody uses YAML and I think yaml is just the wrong answer for your problem, nothing personal with it.

What developers are happy to do is to write code that runs in production and that gives them good challenge to debug and fix. write code is in bold because that’s what we like most. At least the majority of us.

The complexity not hidden behind Kubernetes, or not solved by who runs Kubernetes in your company creates that friction.

Running Kubernetes is not hard, we have tutorials, companies, contractors, cloud providers that can help us out. It is a set of binaries and a database. We run them since ages! There are a good amounts of them, and they need to be configured, connected and there are also a lot of different combinations, but that’s fine. We are used to playing with mobile apps, wordpress plugins and so on.

When I think about myself as a developer I understand why there is this friction, if I was not passionate about containers at the right time to try out Kubernetes I probably even had that friction myself.

It does not help me to write better code or to do something different compared with updating systemd service one by one via ssh. I bet developers working with Kubernetes in a system under real load will likely get back to ssh to the servers one by one deploying their new version of the application to have all the control and visibility they can. That’s what a lot of developers tries to achieve when I look at them using Kubernetes.

What Kubernetes does very well is democratize ops, it provides a common set of concepts that we can use to run applications and very good API that abstract the concrete implementation of containers, VMs, workload, ingress, dns and so on.

We should not west our time trying to run it, we should spend time to make it usable in our company because that’s we can get from k8s.

my recipe

I do not have a recipe, a product or something ready to go. But I think there are two directions I would like to see and to try with a team.

leave yaml

YAML is the wrong answer, it is good to make an impact and to write a document that everyone can read, but your company is not “everybody”, you are pretty unique. You should use the K8S API. I didn’t have time to make a public prototype yet but I will do I promise. You should use the language you know better! I have a lot of experience with go, so my suggestion is to replace yaml with real code, real function and so on. From Kubernetes 1.16 kubectl diff runs server side. Sweet!

split spec file by team

It is very easy to end up with a single Kubernetes YAML file that is crazy long. That file contains everything you run. Across teams, responsabilities and people. Do not do it. Split it in different files or repositories by team or application owners.

DevOps, SRE, Sysadmin, reliability, penguins or what ever you call the team that owns the underline architecture will have the Yaml related to the foundation of the infrastructure. The content of it is not important for other teams, they will only write and see what matters to them.

This approaches will decrease complexity for developers making them probably less worried to screw up part of the infrastructure that is not related to their work.


If you are a developer please develop good code! If you own Kubernetes in your company make it to work for your users.

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