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Exploring Kubernetes Architecture

· 10 min read
Deniz Colak

Have you ever wondered what powers the most sophisticated and efficient cloud-native applications today? Enter Kubernetes, the silent force behind the success stories of many tech giants. This powerful orchestrator breathes life into applications, bestowing upon them the ability to scale, heal, and evolve. So, join us as we decode the mystique surrounding the Kubernetes Architecture - an awe-inspiring saga of power, innovation, and resilience. This is not just a deep dive; it's an exciting journey into the heart of Kubernetes, where you will witness how technology and artistry blend to create a masterpiece of modern engineering. Are you ready to unfold the secrets of this award-winning architecture?


Welcome to the transformative world of Kubernetes, the titan of container orchestration. The architecture we now rely on for modern cloud-native applications is heavily influenced by Kubernetes, which is the cornerstone of this revolution. So, what makes Kubernetes so special? Let's find out.

The Genesis of Kubernetes

From Google's Playground to an Open-Source Behemoth.

In the technological Garden of Eden known as Google, Kubernetes was born in 2014. Does it seem like a mythical tale? The evolution of Kubernetes from Google's Borg system to the leading light of container orchestration is truly a technological saga. But how did it all begin? In 2003, Google was already using containers to manage its workloads. But the system was not as efficient as it could be. So, Google engineers Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, along with Brendan Burns, set out to create a better system. They called it Borg, and it was the precursor to Kubernetes. Borg was a container orchestration system that managed Google's workloads. It was a closed-source system, and Google used it internally for years.


For more information on the history of Kubernetes, check out the video Kubernetes: The Documentary.

What is Kubernetes?

Why is it so pivotal in the world of cloud computing? Picture Kubernetes as a seasoned ship's captain, diligently navigating your containers through the treacherous waters of the web. It provides a firm and secure grip, controlling containerized workloads and services with a seasoned hand.

The Kubernetes Universe

Pods, Services, Deployments, and Namespaces

In the Kubernetes universe, the Control Plane and Worker Nodes are the stars of the show. The Control Plane acts as the brain, while the Nodes are the workhorses executing the tasks. The Control Plane manages the cluster state, handles scheduling, and coordinates communication between Nodes, acting as the control plane. Meanwhile, Nodes run the applications and contain the runtime environment, known as the worker plane.


Your Very Own Container(s) in a Pod

A Kubernetes Pod is like a peapod. But instead of peas, it houses containers. Just as peas share the protective shell of a pod, containers in a Kubernetes Pod share network resources and storage. Containers within a Pod share an IP address and can communicate using localhost. This arrangement ensures tight coupling and efficient coordination between containers.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
name: my-app
app: my-app
- name: my-app-container
image: my-app-image

In this simple yet powerful example, the Kubernetes Pod, my-app, gives a shared home to the my-app-container, running the my-app-image.


The Stable Connectors

Now, how do we maintain network stability amid the ebb and flow of Pods? The answer is Kubernetes Services. Consider them the lighthouses guiding your Pods' network traffic, ensuring no container is ever lost at sea.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
name: my-service
app: my-app
- protocol: TCP
port: 80
targetPort: 9376

Like a lighthouse guiding ships, the my-service Service directs network traffic to all Pods bearing the app: my-app label, guiding them safely to the TCP port 9376.


The Managers of Change

In a world where change is the only constant, how do we ensure smooth transitions? Enter Kubernetes Deployments. They're the conductors orchestrating your application's performance, ensuring the Pods hit all the right notes.

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
name: my-deployment
replicas: 3
app: my-app
app: my-app
- name: my-app-container
image: my-app-image

Like a conductor leading an orchestra, the my-deployment Deployment assures harmony by ensuring three Pods, labeled app: my-app, are always performing.


Organizing the Chaos

As your Kubernetes environment grows, how do you avoid the chaos and keep things in order? Namespaces are your answer. Like the chapters of a book, they bring structure and order to your cluster, making it an organized and manageable read.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Namespace
name: my-namespace

Here, a Namespace called my-namespace is born, bringing order and clarity to the Kubernetes cluster.


Persistent Storage

In the ephemeral world of containers, persistent storage can be a challenge. Kubernetes solves this problem with Volumes, which provide durable storage for your Pods. Volumes can be backed by cloud storage, network storage, or even local storage, offering flexibility and reliability.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
name: my-app
app: my-app
- name: my-app-container
image: my-app-image
- name: my-volume
mountPath: /data
- name: my-volume
path: /data

In this example, the my-app Pod mounts the my-volume Volume to the /data directory, providing persistent storage for the Pod.


Navigating the Traffic

Imagine Ingress as the traffic controller, directing incoming requests to the appropriate Services within the cluster. It acts as a layer of abstraction between the external world and your applications, enabling routing, SSL termination, and name-based virtual hosting.

kind: Ingress
name: my-ingress
- host:
- path: /
pathType: Prefix
name: my-service
number: 80

In this example, the my-ingress Ingress routes all incoming requests to the my-service Service. It also enables SSL termination and name-based virtual hosting for the domain.

Decoding the Kubernetes Architecture

What makes Kubernetes tick? Control plane and Worker Nodes

The answer lies in the symbiosis between the Master Node (or Control Plane) and the Worker Nodes. Imagine the Control Plane as the conductor, controlling the rhythm and flow of the Kubernetes orchestra, while the Worker Nodes are the musicians, creating the symphony.


In a typical Kubernetes cluster, you have one or more control plane nodes and multiple worker nodes. The control plane nodes house the components responsible for managing the cluster and its resources, while the worker nodes execute and manage the containers.

Control Plane

The Maestro

The Control Plane, like a maestro conducting a symphony, directs the Kubernetes show. It houses components like the kube-apiserver, kube-controller-manager, kube-scheduler, and etcd, all playing their part in the Kubernetes concert.

The control plane consists of several key components:

  • API Server: It serves as the primary interface for interacting with the Kubernetes cluster. It validates and processes API requests, maintaining the desired state of the cluster.

  • etcd: It acts as the distributed key-value store, storing the cluster's configuration data, state information, and metadata.

  • Scheduler: It assigns pods to worker nodes based on resource availability, affinity/anti-affinity rules, and other constraints defined in the pod specifications.

  • Controller Manager: It encompasses various controllers responsible for maintaining the desired state of the cluster. For example, the ReplicaSet controller ensures the specified number of pod replicas are running.

  • Cloud Controller Manager: It interacts with the underlying cloud provider's APIs to manage resources such as load balancers, storage, and networking, allowing Kubernetes to integrate seamlessly with different cloud environments.

Worker Nodes

The Musicians

Just as an orchestra can't function without musicians, Kubernetes can't operate without Worker Nodes. They ensure the rhythm continues, managing networking between containers, allocating resources, and liaising with the Control Plane.

Worker nodes host the pods and execute the containers. Each worker node consists of the following components:

  • Kubelet: It acts as the primary agent running on each worker node, responsible for communication between the control plane and the node. It ensures the desired state of pods is maintained, pulling container images, starting/stopping containers, and reporting node status.

  • Container Runtime: It is the underlying software responsible for running containers, such as CRI-O or containerd. It provides the necessary isolation and resource management capabilities.

  • Kube Proxy: It facilitates network communication between pods and services, implementing load balancing and routing rules defined in the service configurations.

By orchestrating the interactions between these components, Kubernetes achieves the desired state of your applications, ensuring scalability, fault tolerance, and efficient resource utilization.

Kubernetes Services & Interactions

Just as a symphony is more than the sum of its individual notes, the true power of Kubernetes emerges from the harmonious interactions between its Services. These interactions enable different parts of an application to communicate and collaborate within the cluster and expose the application to the external world.

Why Kubernetes?

The Business Transformation Catalyst

The adoption of Kubernetes extends beyond its technical prowess. Its ability to scale applications, deploy updates seamlessly, provide fault tolerance, and optimize costs is what makes Kubernetes a game-changer for businesses.

Kubernetes in Action

The Real-World Applications


Orchestrating the Music Streaming Experience

Spotify, the world's leading music streaming platform, uses Kubernetes to orchestrate its vast microservices architecture. Kubernetes enables Spotify to handle millions of concurrent users, scale on-demand, and ensure smooth playback experiences for music enthusiasts worldwide.

Pokémon GO

Gotta Catch 'Em All with Kubernetes

The wildly popular augmented reality game, Pokémon GO, leverages Kubernetes to manage its extensive infrastructure. Kubernetes empowers Niantic, the game's developer, to seamlessly handle massive spikes in user activity during events and maintain uninterrupted gameplay experiences.

Pros and Cons of Kubernetes

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Pros of Kubernetes

  • Scalability: Seamlessly scale your applications with minimal effort.
  • High Availability: Maintain uptime and ensure fault tolerance.
  • Extensibility: Benefit from a vast ecosystem of plugins and extensions.
  • Portability: Deploy your applications anywhere, from on-premises to the cloud.
  • Automation: Automate tasks and streamline operations for increased efficiency.

Cons of Kubernetes

  • Complexity: The learning curve can be steep, requiring time and effort.
  • Operational Overhead: Managing and monitoring Kubernetes clusters can be challenging.
  • Cost: The cost of running Kubernetes clusters can be high. However, the benefits outweigh the costs.

The Path to Mastery

How do you master Kubernetes? Just like learning to play an instrument, mastering Kubernetes requires practice, learning from the masters (community wisdom), and staying in tune with its fast-paced developments. Resources like the Kubernetes official documentation, cloud-native foundations courses, and hands-on labs can lead you towards Kubernetes mastery.


So, what does the future hold? In the realm of cloud computing, the future is Kubernetes. As Kubernetes continues to evolve, it paves the way for a future where cloud-native is the norm, not the exception. Ready to set sail towards that future?