The complete guide to Container Orchestration

Running Kubernetes in the cloud doesn’t have to be complicated.



An increasing number of small and mid-sized businesses are transitioning their IT resources from on-premises to cloud infrastructure, shifting to cloud native technologies such as container and serverless architectures. Kubernetes has emerged as the de facto container orchestration standard for such transformations.  

While containerization offers numerous advantages, it’s challenging to set up and administer on a large scale. Businesses often have to hire additional IT professionals to operate the container platform and invest a lot of time in setup, configuration, and management.  

In an ideal world, a team could launch a containerized application seamlessly and start delivering business value without such a high upfront investment and costs related to both personal and cloud resources.  

Luckily, technologies for container orchestration have come to the rescue. Serverless container solutions can help smaller businesses leverage the cloud while managing and optimizing containerized infrastructure. 

What is container orchestration, and how do modern solutions help cloud users run containers while offloading the task of managing the infrastructure? Read this guide to understand the business value of this technology, learn how it works, and explore best practices for Kubernetes in the cloud.


What is container orchestration all about?

Kubernetes is today's go-to platform for managing large groups of containers thanks to benefits such as faster development and release timelines, greater team productivity, reduced downtime risk, and easier troubleshooting with the rollback option.

However, because of its complexity, Kubernetes calls for in-house experts able to continuously manage and maintain the infrastructure, placing this solution out of reach for many smaller businesses.

A container orchestration solution brings together the benefits of serverless architecture and the quick performance of the container orchestration system Kubernetes. For example, Tilaa’s serverless containers allow cloud customers to run K8s containers without the need for servers or system infrastructure.

That way, businesses can get containers up and running in minutes, with just enough flexibility to meet their needs. They also won’t have to worry about manual updates again.

Engineers can concentrate on their code while a third-party cloud provider provisions, maintains, and secures the hardware. You just pay for the compute resources you use, and the solution is more scalable and often less expensive than Kubernetes or traditional deployments.

What is serverless architecture?

Serverless architecture is a way of designing software that lets developers create and execute services without having to handle the underlying infrastructure. While they build and deploy code, cloud providers offer servers to operate their applications, databases, and storage systems at any size.

Servers enable users to connect with an application and its business logic, but administering them requires a significant amount of effort and resources that smaller businesses might be lacking. 

In a traditional setup, teams maintain server hardware, manage software and security upgrades, and generate backups in the event of a breakdown.

Today, you can outsource these tasks to a third-party supplier by using serverless architecture, allowing them to focus on building application code. Function as a Service (FaaS) is a common serverless architecture in which developers compose their application code as a series of separate functions. A function will carry out a specific action when an event, such as an incoming email or an HTTP request, triggers it.  

Following the standard rounds of testing, developers publish their functions and triggers to a cloud provider's account. When a function is invoked, the cloud provider either performs it on an existing server or, if no server is already operating, spins up a new server to execute the function. The execution process is abstracted away from the team, which is now primarily concerned with building and delivering application code.

What are serverless containers?

Serverless containers help teams maximize the benefits of the cloud while implementing containerized infrastructure with ease. They’re technologies that allow cloud customers to run containers while offloading the task of managing the servers or computer infrastructure on which they operate.  

This may lead to faster adoption of large-scale containerized workloads on the cloud, as well as better management and maintenance. Such solutions make containerization more accessible to smaller companies that don’t have many Kubernetes specialists on board.

Why do you need a container orchestration solution?

Kubernetes is difficult to set up and manage for businesses that lack specialists able to handle this demanding orchestration system.  

Kubernetes expertise comes with a high price tag, and finding specialists takes time and generates even more costs. Even once hired, these engineers will also end up dedicating a significant amount of time to setup, configuration, and management on an ongoing basis. Infrastructure management adds even more to their workload.

Launching a new product and jumping on the latest trends is hard when Kubernetes calls for such considerable configuration effort and time. Container orchestration is a solution that helps address this challenge. 

This is especially relevant to applications that run compute-intensive workloads. Kubernetes is well-equipped to manage data-heavy and complicated workloads, and combined with the responsiveness of serverless architecture, it opens the door to spin up and down apps without worrying about hardware access. As a result, if your application sees an unexpected rise in demand, serverless Kubernetes will handle it.

How does container orchestration work?

Running containers at scale in production is not a piece of cake due to their lightweight and transitory nature. Container orchestration automates a large chunk of the operational work for running containerized workloads and services.  

This includes a wide variety of tasks required by software teams to manage the lifetime of a container like provisioning, deployment, scaling (up and down), networking, load balancing, and more.

Container orchestration provides teams with a declarative manner of automating most of the work, is what makes operational complexity manageable for development and operations, or DevOps.

Developed by Google, Kubernetes is a container orchestration system that addresses this need best. After competing with Docker Swarm and Apache Mesos, Kubernetes won the container orchestration war a few years ago.

However, running and scaling a Kubernetes cluster is not only complex, but it also requires a unique set of skills. Running Kubernetes in production without a platform or a DevOps/SRE team is just risky.

Why serverless?

Container orchestration solutions incorporate serverless shine in this scenario because you don't have to provision or maintain the infrastructure required to run, operate, and scale the containers.

How come this setup is so scalable? If your application receives 100s or even 1000s of requests per second, the cloud provider operating the containers on its serverless containers platform will increase the number of containers to the highest limit you specify. There are options available to set the appropriate amount of resources (CPU and RAM) per operating container.

Furthermore, you’re not restricted to a specific selection of runtime environments such as Python, Javascript, and others. Running Rust, R, or even Pascal in containers is an option.


Serverless containers: why you need them and what they bring

A new form of software containerization - serverless containers - is about to offer businesses a more secure, easier and faster-to-deploy method of deploying software across the organisation. It gives you all the benefits that containers have now, but without the need for in-depth expertise in setting up the environment. 

Read blog

Further reading about Containers

Serverless containers: why you need them and what they bring

A new form of software containerization - serverless containers - is about to offer businesses a more secure, easier and faster-to-deploy method of deploying software across the organisation.

VMs vs. Serverless Containers

Managing your own IT infrastructure can be a real challenge. If you’re spending a lot of time, money and effort on trying to allocate and manage your computer systems, then Cloud VPS (VMs), Containers or Serverless Computing could be ideal.

5 benefits of container orchestration

Serverless containers are a solution that combines the portability of containerization with the burst capacity of a serverless architecture, providing your business with the best of both worlds and eliminating the need to host containers on specific hardware with all the limitations that imply.

1. There is no need to micromanage the infrastructure

There’s a reason why many cloud computing industry experts believe it is the way of the future. With serverless containers, your team can spend time on what matters most: designing and supporting the applications your business relies on and responding to customer requirements, rather than worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

Instead of frantically rejigging configuration files and replacing code libraries when you need extra capacity or change your hosting plan, your team can build up your company's technology backbone.

You also won’t need any more IT expertise to handle your container platform, helping you to save time and money on human resources.

2. Lower operational expenses

Serverless containers are a service that helps teams streamline their resource management by letting them only use resources when they are really essential. Businesses will only pay for what they actually require. 

Additionally, the simple and quick installation lets you get started right away. It’s something for those who would rather deploy their solution and capitalize on the newest trends than study something complicated for months on end.

3. Achieving optimal performance

By using a container orchestration solution, businesses are well prepared to scale quickly in line with demand and teams can handle more demanding workloads with just one click of a button.

4. Flexibility and scalability

Businesses that deploy serverless Kubernetes can choose from multiple options, from containers on a single server to containers on a server area that is not associated with a specific blade in a rack.

Regardless, they get all the capacity their applications require at the right time. Containers also come with benefits such as load-balanced redundancy and intelligent scaling that work in tandem to offer the required performance.

5. Cost efficiency

Pay as you go gains a deeper meaning in the world of serverless containers. The provider will only charge you for the time your containers are in use. A container is only called when it’s required. Your team can have a stack of containers expand and shrink as needed, in line with the real-time demands of your applications.

On top of that, consider all the time you save when your engineers don’t have to manage or maintain servers. Or your HR department doesn’t have to go through the process of hiring all the personnel needed to run K8s.

The difference between container orchestration and alternatives

Given the complexity of Kubernetes, the market is brimming with solutions that address this issue using different approaches. While some solutions focus on simplifying Kubernetes management, others focus more on the underlying infrastructure, helping teams run and scale K8s deployments without giving up control over configuration, management, and security.

Let’s take a closer look at these two approaches.

Managed Kubernetes

One example is managed Kubernetes tools from major cloud providers such as Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), or Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

In a managed Kubernetes setup, you’re paying a third party to build you a controlled Kubernetes environment. Management responsibilities and prices vary greatly among providers. Don’t forget that you’ll be tied to your provider's tech stack and pay for the computational resources you use.  

You retain some configuration control over your Kubernetes cluster and don’t have to worry about setting up the control plane, but this comes at a price. Any additional support you require will also generate a cost item on your cloud bill.

Finally, managed Kubernetes solutions are all about Kubernetes. They leave you with more responsibilities around infrastructure choices - for example, choosing the type and size of compute instances where your workloads will be running.

Serverless solutions where you can run Kubernetes

In a serverless solution, you can focus on building your product while your cloud provider constructs and maintains your infrastructure. In some scenarios, you’ll just pay for the compute resources that you use, as there’s no service cost involved

Serverless Kubernetes offers you a lot more control and portability. Your team can still build its own tech stack on top of it as long as you package it and use Kubernetes architecture and backend to connect your apps, services, storage, and other resources.

The advantage of this setup is that you don’t have to worry about the infrastructure. These platforms enable developers to run containerized apps without worrying about the underlying infrastructure, while also reaping the benefits of serverless computing's scalability and cost-effectiveness. The provider will make sure your Kubernetes workloads have a place to run and the virtual machines scale up and down in line with real-time demand.

Here are a few examples of such solutions:

  • Google Cloud Run - a managed compute platform that enables you to directly run containers on top of Google's scalable infrastructure. Since Google Cloud Run is serverless, it eliminates all infrastructure maintenance. Cloud Run allows you to deploy containers to handle incoming requests, and because it is serverless, you simply pay for the duration of the requests. You can also select the maximum number of containers that your application should scale up to in the event of a higher load.
  • AWS Fargate - a serverless, pay-as-you-go compute engine that allows you to run containers in serverless mode, including Kubernetes. Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) are both supported by AWS Fargate. Fargate also provides automatic scaling, ensuring that your applications are always available and running at peak performance. However, AWS services tend to be complex and require specialist support.
  • Azure Container Instances - a fully managed serverless container solution that lets run containers without having to maintain servers or clusters. You can deploy containers fast and easily using Azure Container Instances, eliminating the requirement for infrastructure management. A good pick for scenarios in which isolated containers can work without orchestration.

Contrary to traditional approaches to running Kubernetes, serverless takes a different strategy to deployment. You don't have to worry about the underlying infrastructure when using serverless, which means you can run your container image on your cluster using any of the Kubernetes serverless technologies.

Whenever you deploy the application, the serverless solution automatically produces the resources needed to operate it, such as deployments and services.

Serverless architecture improves time to market by allowing developers to focus on application development rather than configuring, provisioning, and administering the server for their application. Teams with applications that aren’t constantly active benefit greatly from serverless architecture since they only pay for what they use.

Furthermore, serverless architecture is platform agnostic, which implies that there is no vendor lock-in to any of the Kubernetes platform providers, such as the managed Kubernetes solutions mentioned before, EKS, AKS, and GKE.

If you expect your application will not be used constantly, a serverless workload is likely the best option for you because of the cost reductions. Traditional workloads need continuous use of computing resources, which your service provider will bill you for at the end of the month regardless of whether your application received inbound requests or not.

In a serverless model, you only pay for the actual requests, making this approach much more viable for small and mid-sized companies that are particularly cost-conscious and may have limited Kubernetes expertise on board.

Tilaa Serverless Containers

The powever of Kubernetes, without the complexity

Easily manage your containers in our trusted cloud and simplify the management of your cloud resources.

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How to use a container orchestration solution: 5 best practices

1. Have a clear idea of the benefits of containers and serverless containers

If you’re a small company, containers may seem to be out of reach due to the capital expenses (CAPEX) and required Kubernetes expertise involved. This is where a serverless container orchestration solution can help. 

Since it takes away so much of Kubernetes complexity, your team will have an easier time managing Kubernetes containers and keeping the performance of your application high.  

Additionally, by choosing a serverless solution, you make the entire effort around infrastructure provisioning, decommissioning, configuration, and management go away. Instead of constantly tinkering with the underlying infrastructure of your applications, your team can focus on what matters most: building features and products that take your business forward.

Serverless container orchestration is a perfect solution for small and mid-sized businesses due to its cost-efficiency (pay-per-use), ability to scale easily, and simplicity in setup.

2. Know your use case and how it matches containers

Jumping on the cloud-native bandwagon only makes sense if your business use case matches the particular benefits these technologies offer. Take your time to assess your project and check how it matches the advantages and limitations of containers.

While containerization and orchestration systems like Kubernetes bring undeniable strengths to engineering teams, it doesn’t make sense to transition to cloud-native environments without a good business reason behind it.

3. Consider the price and differences across offerings

When looking for a serverless container orchestration solution for your project, price is likely to be among the first criteria for comparison. After all, cost-efficiency may be one of the reasons you’re interested in Kubernetes in the first place.

But comparing the prices alone doesn’t give you the full picture. Serverless solutions may differ greatly in their scope, so examine each offering in detail to understand what you’ll be paying for. It might turn out that between two competing offerings, you’ll pick the one that isn’t cheaper but offers you more storage, which is something your business actually needs.

4. Consider your container size  

Another key consideration is the size of your container image. Depending on the container orchestration solution, you may be charged every time you pull the container image.

Check this aspect carefully before signing the contract. The good news here is that some solutions come without any hidden costs - Tilaa’s Serverless Containers is a good example of that.

5. Make sure that your setup is scalable

You may be interested in cloud-native technologies like containers and Kubernetes for many reasons, but one of them is likely scalability. This aspect is especially important to smaller companies that may experience sudden surges of traffic after a media mention, and their applications need to be prepared for that.

By expanding the underlying infrastructure in line with changing demand, serverless container solutions promise to meet this need and keep your application running at top performance no matter how many people use it.

Tilaa Serverless Containers

The power of Kubernetes – without the complexity

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