Kubernetes shows promise for managing martech compatibility across platforms

  •   July 29, 2019

Imagine a world where you can easily manage containerized applications across multiple environments. This is the world of Kubernetes, and learning to implement it will change your life because this model can help marketers manage data more efficiently across platforms.

It allows you to have ultimate control over how your applications should run, and how they interact with other systems in a more globalized environment. In order to fully understand the beauty of Kubernetes and how it relates to continuous development, it’s important to understand the open-source architecture of the containers and how they work.

What are Kubernetes containers?

The system was originally developed by Google, given to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), and is now becoming the containerizing standard for most cloud-based business apps. The goal of the platform is to allow more concise, customized management of assets and services across a multitude of environments. In an increasingly globalized business model, this ability is imperative to remaining viable.

The architecture is constructed in layers, with the main server acting as the master among a cluster of machines that make up the infrastructure of that particular network. Each machine within this grouping is assigned a specific function, with the master server acting as the main control and switchboard. It receives requests from end-users, exposes API, performs health checks on nodes within the network of servers and schedules tasks to whichever server is designated to complete them.

Further down the chain are nodes, or individual servers within the larger network. These servers receive instructions from the master server and manage workloads or assigned tasks, creating or destroying containers according to what’s required to complete them.

Speed and scale is good for marketing

All of this is set in motion by the logic contained within Kubernetes. At its most basic, Kubernetes containers are a means of quickly deploying microservices at a scale unheard of in the past. These containers allow mass deployment and workload management within a cluster of computers without the need for manual intervention or human oversight. In conjunction with other intuitive technologies like blockchain, it’s changing how software development is performed and implemented.

The old way of doing things required a monolithic program to which a hodgepodge of features or functions were added as needed until there was an unwieldy, unmanageable mess that could crash by changing one simple component.

In a world where agility is paramount and downtime leads to death, that’s unsustainable.

Enter the concept of microservices and containerized deployment. The idea is to develop micro-applications that perform a specific function well but are supportable in a range of environments and compatible with other, related applications. According to Nic Grange, CTO at Retriever Communications, microservices are “an approach to designing software systems that are made up of small independent services that each have a specific purpose.”

The most efficient way of deploying such services is via a containerized platform.

How the system fits within a continuous development model

Continuous deployment and integration pipelines enable automated container creation. Previously, new software had a major release, followed by periodic updates and patches as needed. The continuous deployment model means that every code change is automatically sent to a staging area to be vetted and sent out. It should be noted that, despite the tremendous benefits, the new process is just as susceptible to hacker threats as a traditional environment.

In other words, crypto mining, ransomware, data theft and service disruption attributed to all variety of malware are still not only possible but likely in a Kubernetes environment. To take advantage of the benefits of continuous delivery and deployment means that a marketer still needs the same underlying security precautions. This should include a credible security software suite and firewall to detect, block, and eliminate incoming malware threats, as well as a virtual private network (VPN) for encrypting traffic over your network. A VPN works by creating an encrypted “tunnel” (i.e., a connection to the internet that protects all browsing session data from would-be hackers). 

With a continuous deployment model that incorporates the growing devsecops philosophy, changes or rollbacks are possible at any point in the development cycle, which allows for the kind of backward compatibility necessary to avoid synchronized releases. It can also be implemented to ensure uninterrupted delivery of services.

In a Kubernetes ecosystem, it works like this:

  • Each Kubernetes container is a pod that contains a code (Docker image) housed in an isolated environment.
  • The pods, or nodes, are housed in the same network of servers, where they have predefined functions. For example, one pod communicates with the local host server and locates another container within the same pod that’s accessible to the assigned port.
  • Because pods are mortal and disappear if the system crashes, continuous deployment tracks the pods and ensures that they’re reassigned to a working server if the current server crashes or become disabled.
  • The applications run within the Kubernetes cluster.

Why should marketers care? 

Utilizing Docker engines allows you to deploy applications simultaneously on separate machines, providing a high degree of scalability. You can ramp your capabilities up or down automatically. Previously, applications were deployed by developers by introducing an XML document into an isolated process space. With the transition to cloud-based app deployment and storage, it was necessary to find an open source platform that could perform this function automatically and integrate it into a range of environments.

This saves marketers time and money by making the implementation of datadriven marketing faster and more efficient. Apps are portable enough to move them from one platform to another, such as cloud to physical machine and back, with less hands-on to run once the system is in place. When a larger enterprise with a lot of moving parts needs a system to keep their app deployment from spiraling out of control, automation is your friend.

You can house a customer database in one container, your caching server on another, and the front-end on yet another, with the combination of a master server and continuous deployment to ensure that it all runs as planned without the need for hands-on oversight or a large team to manage everything. It enables virtualization of marketing campaigns that’s possible on any scale. Using this model allows you to control costs without sacrificing service, and you can enjoy all of the benefits of a cloud-based or hybrid platform without all the hassle.

Final thoughts

The future of digital marketing and work environments of almost every kind lies in developing secure, open source platforms that are able to intuitively perform service delivery over a range of platforms and environments. This level of agility and scalability are realized in the creation of Kubernetes containers. It may seem complicated at first. But, once you learn the ropes, you’ll wonder how you were able to conduct business without it.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.