The History of Kubernetes: How it All Began

When it comes to building highly responsive distributed systems, Kubernetes is the most preferred container organization product.

A robust container orchestration platform, Kubernetes is fast becoming the de-facto standard when it comes to cloud-based microservices infrastructure. Although there are several similar technologies today, many major cloud service providers offer managed Kubernetes clusters. As such, deploying a distributed infrastructure on Kubernetes is the easiest and most effective.

The popularity and success of Kubernetes can be attributed in part to its rich history. What was originally conceptualized as an internal orchestration system at Google, Kubernetes has evolved into the robust tool that it is today. Here we take a look at its rich history and significant milestones.

But before the quick trip down memory lane, let’s get to know more about Kubernetes.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes derives its name from the Greek word, κυβερνήτης, meaning “helmsman” or “pilot.” As the name suggests it helps you navigate through the convoluted environment of containerized applications and cloud computing.

Organizations use numerous computers as well as multiple applications that they need to run on those systems. Think of the game Tetris where you need to figure out how to arrange the puzzle pieces – this is where Kubernetes comes to the picture. It ensures that applications are shipped faster, more efficiently, and benefits end users.

As mentioned above, Kubernetes is an open-source platform that organizes and automates the creation, operation and scaling of container applications. It orchestrates containers across multiple machines, whether cloud-based or physical systems. Kubernetes continuously monitors and maintains the state of the application, ensuring that it follows the specified descriptions. For example, if the cluster needs to be executed four times as web servers, the platform executes it as directed. In case the application crashes or stops, Kubernetes restarts the code. Kubernetes follows master-slave architecture, wherein the master component controls the nodes where the containers run.

With the basics of Kubernetes fully explained, let’s now go back to its history.

How did Kubernetes start?

Kubernetes traces its roots from an internally managed container cluster system at Google called Borg. Long before Docker arrived, Google has been using container technology. Along with its sudden growth, the company needed a huge infrastructure to manage its search engine and ads. Hence, the Borg System was introduced around 2003-2004. It provided three key aspects that include hardware virtualization, containerization, and site reliability engineering.

Borg System was a small-scale project initially run by less than 5 people. The internal cluster management system handled hundreds of thousands of jobs, applications, and clusters in thousands of machines.

In 2013, the Omega cluster management system was introduced which offered a more flexible, scalable orchestrator for large compute clusters. However, in mid-2014, Google went public by launching Kubernetes as an open source version of Borg. Major tech companies like Docker, IBM, Microsoft, and RedHat all joined the Kubernetes community.

A year later, Google and Linux teamed up to form the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). It now maintains the kubernetes platform. More companies pitched in and performance upgrades were introduced. 2015 also marked the first Kubernetes conference held in San Francisco.

In 2016, Kuberntes went mainstream with several system updates as well as new tools and features that simplified its use. It was also during this year that Pokemon Go, the largest Kubernetes deployment, was released.

More stable versions were released in 2017. The succeeding versions enabled API aggregation, local storage, extensibility, encryption, and other third-party resources. CNCF also unveiled its first Kubernetes Certified Providers which was aimed to standardize the system.

In 2018, various engines were released by major cloud-based providers such as the Amazon EKS and Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). These systems further simplified building, operating, securing, and maintaining Kubernetes clusters. It put Kubernetes to the mainstream.

As more and more contributors join the community, adoption of Kubernetes also increases. The succeeding years saw continuous updates and upgrades which made the platform even more responsive and efficient. And as cyberspace veers toward a serverless world, Kubernetes is poised to play a vital role. This makes the container orchestration product a crucial tool as we usher the future.

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