2021 — The year of Kubernetes on the Desktop
Previously relegated almost entirely to the world of former sysadmins and geeks with Twitter profiles that say mysterious things like “cattle not pets”, Kubernetes has fit into a niche world out of reach for even the most interested of non-computer nerds… until now.
The Open Source alternative to the widely adopted ways of cloud-proprietary APIs, Kubernetes has long been crippled by its reputation for taking over many machines (sometimes growing that number without warning) and an installation process so arduous most would never even consider it for use on the desktop. But today, a new community-blessed distribution has been released by the CNCF (the Kubernetes overlords since Google washed their hands of it) with plug-and-play support for a wide variety of peripherals (even printers!) — and an installation process for the desktop that will blow your mind — a live CD.
Compared to a PaaS like Heroku, or commonly-used desktop environments such as ChromeOS or MacOS, Kubernetes on the Desktop (KotD) will cost most companies almost nothing — and has near-zero data-transfer costs (as most desktop installations wont be crossing AZs). Out of the box, KotD comes with dozens of Helm charts to make setup simple and applications easy to deploy. While Kubernetes in the cloud has seen massive adoption in the last four years, the shift to desktop has been eased so significantly Gartner is currently predicting 30% market adoption of KotD by the end of 2021. The Gartner analyst is quoted as saying, “It’s been a ****ing year hasn’t it? What else have people got to do in 2021?” Just days after the announcement computer makers Compaq, Tiger Systems, and the company that makes the cow-pattern boxes for their computers all announced they will be shipping machines with KotD.
Cloud Provider Response
The three major clouds have all made widely-varying statements regarding their support (or lack thereof) for KotD.
Google has stated that KotD is already compatible with Anthos and can be controlled with a unified control plane across clouds and now the desktop as well. Sysadmins at large enterprises may see this as a huge win given the ease and uniformity of administration, as this allows a customer already leveraging Anthos to make use of it as a key component of their IT strategy. Although some have noted that it may reduce productivity for most developers, who still see Kubernetes of any distribution as “unnecessarily large, complex, and they actually really just want their own namespace to fiddle with.” Google says they will guarantee support of KotD through March of this year.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has announced this week that while they’re working on support for Windows in containers within Kubernetes, they see KotD as a direct competitor and have no intention of releasing a compatible version of their widely-adopted Office Suite, though a version of IE6 will be forthcoming this year, “There’s no reason KotD can’t have third-party search bars and pop-up windows,” a spokesperson said. This may be sufficient for Microsoft with the market’s growing adoption of entirely-online office offerings such as G-suite and another similar offering from Microsoft that we’re pretty sure includes a chat tool and is the only Web 2.0 application supported by IE6.
Finally, spokespeople from AWS merely stated that they, “Already have our own distribution of Kubernetes.” They also said they still view themselves as the place with the fastest growing adoption of Kubernetes and did not see KotD as a threat but would keep an eye out. Inside sources who declined to be named have said AWS customers have been asking for a version of Fargate on the desktop and Amazon is considering such a move should KotD gain traction.
While 2021 might be the year of Kubernetes on the Desktop, we must keep in mind its limitations. KotD still does not support more than 100 pods per node, most 3D-accelerated gaming, any more than 150,000 total pods, Flash video, 300,000 total containers, or Dvorak keyboards. Most DevOps-y folks will be thrilled to be living and breathing Kubernetes, but many developers will argue that Docker was sufficiently complex on its own.
That said, Directors and VPs are increasingly excited about a desktop environment that perfectly matches what is running in production — with KotD “Works on my cloud” may be a phrase of the past.
Hey for realz though, if you need Kubernetes help or software so you can help yourself, that’s what we do over at Fairwinds.com check us out eh.