There’s no denying there’s been a lot of change in recent years, and 2022 was a big year for many different companies, services, and software in the tech sector. Kubernetes was among the big winners, becoming a platform of choice for companies and individuals looking for major digital transformation and assistance with their cloud-based workloads.

It’s important to understand that this doesn’t happen by accident. In this article, we’ll take a close and in-depth look into 2022’s Kubernetes coverage based on in-depth discussions with industry specialists, well-known experts, Cloud Native Computing Foundation reports, public news stories, and even directly from Kubernetes-related technology providers.

Kubernetes Software Goes Mainstream

This year saw unrestricted growth in the Kubernetes community. For example, 96% of respondents in a CNCF report from early 2022 indicated that they are now either utilizing or exploring Kubernetes. Furthermore, 79% of those surveyed use managed services like EKS, AKS, or GKE.

The well-known open-source tool is beneficial for service discovery, load balancing, and many other aspects of the application life cycle. In addition, most firms that use Kubernetes succeed with the platform due to its powerful features. As a result, Kubernetes has entered the mainstream, according to Tobi Knaup, CEO of D2iQ. For next-generation workloads and digital transformation, it has become the industry standard.

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Becoming More User-Friendly Made It Accessible

At first, Kubernetes was thought to be only useful for larger businesses. This is because it requires expertise to operate and has a severe learning curve. However, with improvements in usability and managed service options, Kubernetes became more affordable for small- to medium-sized organizations in 2022.

Murli Thirumale, VP and GM of Pure’s cloud-native business segment, claims that the early innovator and majority stages have been crossed. “The technology is poised to join the middle market now that goods have become more stable.”

Edge Use

This year recorded significant growth in using Kubernetes in bare metal instances and at the edge. According to a Spectro Cloud survey, 35% of production Kubernetes customers have already deployed K8s at the edge, and many more intend to do so in the upcoming 12 months. Eighty-one percent of respondents feel their industry has compelling use cases for the edge.

The push toward the edge may be fueled by several factors. However, bringing high-throughput processing closer to the data, like artificial intelligence, is the most critical. This might result in improved performance and reduced costs associated with transporting data to and from the cloud. In addition, many CNCF open-source projects, like KubeEdge, SuperEdge, and Akri, can help with Edge Kubernetes.

The K8 Ecosystem Needs Open Source

We’ve seen how open-source packages have fueled a large portion of Kubernetes’ development and promoted vendor-neutral standards in the cloud-native ecosystem. According to Mike Vizard, “generally speaking, open-source technologies are currently driving the next phase of IT innovation.” Numerous cutting-edge open-source solutions are not only compatible with Kubernetes Operators but also packaged as one. As a result, the functionality related to CI/CD, data storage, DevOps, testing, and many other areas can be enabled by utilizing these cloud-native solutions in Kubernetes releases.

Kubernetes Was Perfect for "Stateful" Deployments

Despite the fact that containers are meant to be stateless and transient, most applications nonetheless call for some sort of persistent storage. Additionally, the community has created certain workarounds to enable Kubernetes to support stateful deployments. The use of a Kubernetes-native backup architecture, having an automated data backup plan, recovering in the proper order, and utilizing a procedure that is agnostic to database types are some lessons learned from this. For instance, a significant health care organization using K8s in production explained how they manage their “polyglot” data storage formats using Portworx.

Production Challenges Remain

Despite the previous breakthroughs, numerous challenges remain. Matter of fact, 86% of respondents cited exponential challenges with using multiple Kubernetes environments. According to a separate D2iQ study, only 42% of K8s projects make it into production, and one in every five developers says Kubernetes makes them feel extremely burnt out.

One significant impediment is simply getting Kubernetes up and running, which can take months. Then there are operational issues to deal with. Overseeing multiple K8s clusters is one such challenge. Another challenge is managing growing complexities while running Kubernetes in multiple environments at the same time. Companies experiencing a talent shortage may lack the necessary configuration skills, making ongoing maintenance difficult.

kubernetes market share 2022

The Biggest Challenges?

The transition to cloud-native exposes new vulnerabilities, including misconfigurations and insecure default settings. And Kubernetes is not exempt to these responsibilities. For example, Aqua Security discovered increased software supply chain attack sophistication across the board in a mid-2022 study, with a substantial number of attacks leveraging vulnerable Kubernetes deployments. To put things in perspective, Shadowserver estimates that 380,000 Kubernetes API servers are publicly deployed.

Final Thoughts on Kubernetes 2022

Kubernetes had a significant year in 2022. We observed the mainstreaming of K8s and their emergence as a viable target for many more companies. Edge usage increased, and open source’s role as a catalyst for cloud-native success was solidified. However, usability issues continued and supply chain security vulnerabilities surfaced.

What then can we expect for 2023? Leaders in the cloud-native industry believe 2023 will be another important year for this industry as it continues to develop and mature. In the next two years, 88% of respondents say Kubernetes will be the platform of choice for executing AI and ML workloads. Artificial intelligence is one such path. Other forecasts include greater platform engineering, a focus on the developer experience, and luckily, engineers becoming more familiar with Kubernetes’ intricacies.