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Kubernetes and the Environment: How Containerization Supports Green IT

by Busines Newswire
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As society’s needs evolve, companies are turning more and more to technology, utilizing different systems and tools to provide critical services. At the heart of these services and the underlying technologies are the data centers and servers on which they run or hold their data. While essential, data centers are massive energy consumers, with clusters owned by companies like Google consuming enough energy to run a small country.

As the world becomes increasingly concerned about the global carbon footprint, the environmental impact of traditional data centers is becoming a pressing concern. One proposed solution is containerization, which leverages platforms like Kubernetes to support a greener IT future. In this article, we look at how Kubernetes is doing this and the potential downsides of relying wholly on this solution.

What is Kubernetes?

Before looking at how Kubernetes is helping support a greener IT future, we need to understand what it is. It is an open-source container orchestration platform developers, companies, and organizations use to automate the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.

Kubernetes relies on containers used to package software applications and is often run on virtual machines. Each container is a lightweight and portable unit managed by Kubernetes that can run efficiently across a cluster of servers.

Companies that leverage Kubernetes often run it on virtual machines which are software computers that act like physical computers. Each runs its own software and operating system, but it exists within software later on a physical machine or server.

Kubernetes Reduces Resource Wastage

Virtual machines help users make much better use of the available hardware because they can install many of them on a single machine or server. The problem with traditional virtual machines is that they often have unused space allocated, which leads to wasted resources.

Kubernetes packs applications into containers allocated only the resources they need, leading to an overall smaller footprint.

Also, Kubernetes employs right-sizing on demand. This means that it can allocate resources dynamically as they are needed. For example, it can scale resources down during low-traffic periods and scale up when traffic spikes. This leads to reduced energy consumption and a much smaller carbon footprint.

It is important to understand that you should configure Kubernetes correctly to take advantage of such features. Doing so can be time complicated, time-consuming, and expensive if you hire a developer to do it all the time. However, you can leverage managed Kubernetes services to configure it for you so you have everything set up the right way.

Kubernetes Improves Efficiency

Kubernetes allows multiple containers to share the underlying operating system and hardware. This eliminates the need for multiple virtual machines that all require their own operating system instances. This leads to more efficient use of hardware and other resources like energy.

Kubernetes also reduces instances of overprovisioning. Overprovisioning happens when a server is provided with more resources than it needs. If it is not able to leverage these resources, it ends up wasting energy. Kubernetes eliminates this issue because it allows containers to only use what they need, eliminating the energy wastage caused by overprovisioning.

Kubernetes Allows for Easier Collocation

Kubernetes’ environmental benefits extend beyond those it provides through server consolidation and into its automated bin-packing capability. Bin packing entails placing containers or bins strategically within nodes to maximize resource usage while reducing wastage. While the main benefit of bin packing is lower infrastructure costs, it also leads to more efficient hardware use.

If demand or traffic spikes, the cluster spins up new containers or bins on the same node ensuring tight collocation. This means you do not have to provision new servers to handle the load because each new container will work like a separate server. Doing this ensures one server can perform the tasks of a cluster, reducing resource demand.

It Makes It Easy to Terminate Running Services and Workloads

Servers are highly tuned to make the most use of the available resources for the workloads they handle. Sometimes, these workloads are not needed and can continue running and wasting resources without anyone noticing. When they do, engineers have to carry out time-consuming modifications of long-running servers to terminate them.

Kubernetes makes it much easier to do this. Remember that it is software running on other software (virtual machines). Users can easily terminate a container or virtual machine running the resource-hungry workload without affecting other containers or machines terminating the workload and saving resources.

Crucial Considerations and Challenges

From all the benefits outlined above, it is easy to see that Kubernetes can help support green IT initiatives. However, there are serious considerations and challenges to keep in mind. The first is that Kubernetes is not the only solution.

While it promotes efficiency and reduces resource utilization, Kubernetes doesn’t eliminate the need for powerful servers. The virtual machines it runs on have to run on hardware, meaning we need these servers.

Engineers must consider energy-efficient hardware for their servers and renewable energy sources to run them to further reduce the environmental impact of running them. Doing this will further push the green IT benefits of using Kubernetes in the first place.

Second, optimization is crucial. Kubernetes has many great features. However, these features can lead to significant challenges if not configured correctly. Improper configuration and inefficient code running on containers can lead to higher workloads and strain on available resources, negating the environmental benefits of running Kubernetes.

This is why it is so important for developers and organizations to work with experienced professionals or managed Kubernetes providers to ensure proper configuration. It is also the best way to fully take advantage of the benefits of features like bin packing.

Originally designed and developed by Google, Kubernetes has become one of the most important tools for developers and organizations alike for deploying, scaling, and managing their running applications. Kubernetes promotes better resource optimization and efficient hardware utilization, thereby empowering businesses to reduce their environmental footprint while maintaining application performance. This is one of the reasons it is playing a significant role in the move towards green IT.