When to go big with a Kubernetes cluster(?) | Part 1

Posted by Rick Richardson on Jan 30, 2020 4:30:00 AM

In this three-blog series, let's figure out the strategic preparation and tactical automation that you need. We understand Kubernetes is powerful yet it takes some effort to get there.

New year, old Kubernetes cluster.

You are feeling good. You saw your family and friends again over the holidays and started to feel like 2019 was really your year. And let’s celebrate again because your very first Kubernetes cluster stood the test of time, and didn’t leave you scrambling to run kubectl get events command with a red Solo cup full of eggnog at fingers’ length.

This is great, but as the old cliche goes, “there’s no rest for the weary.” 2020 is a new year. Now, this new year means you’ve earned your stripes and it’s time to prove our metal by scaling that first cluster. If that wasn't enough - your CIO is walking down the hallway with new year's greetings and making small talk. But are they really? Take a flash back to the holiday party, and how you think you saw your CIO slightly turn your way when the words 'Kubernetes automation' came out a little louder than normal. No need to panic. Drop back to my blog post on buzzword bingo.

OK, so maybe getting grilled about Kubernetes isn't the way you want to start January. Let's get you prepared for that happenstance run-in with your CIO.


How to Answer Your CIO’s Questions About Kubernetes

You’re already sold on the value of Kubernetes, so be prepared to show it.

CIO Question #1: So what’s the point of all this?

Your answer: Ultimately, you can read this as your cue to talk up container orchestration, but keep in mind that your CIO may really be asking a question within this question. For example, she may really be asking you about the bottom line to either business operations, wait time or application availability? They want to know how this is going to make a difference. Adjust your response accordingly to tie to a business value-add.

CIO Question #2: How much is this going to cost me?

Your answer: It isn't necessary to have a full 3-year financial forecast. But take a look at these three options to seed the starter conversation with her. Remember, your CIO probably caught you at the water cooler for a quick debrief before running off to another meeting. So just be prepared to have a solid yet succinct answer.

  • Choice #1: Do the scaling yourself by learning? Possible, but frankly it may not be very practical, either. There may be some trial and error involved. Explaining a bit of the implications of this to your CIO could be invaluable.
  • Choice #2: Use someone else’s scripts? Planning accordingly, you can shortcut a few bits of automation by finding the right scripts. Since this is someone else’s, but be willing to make adjustments to fit your industry needs and your multi-cloud architecture.
  • Choice #3: Use a service. Taking automation one step further accelerates development and delivery. When you’re not carrying the full cost of building infrastructure yourself, you could save time and money in the process. Agile Stacks is a great solution for this since our automation platform abstracts the complexity away.

CIO Question #3: How are we going to have to change?

Your answer: Stand up straight. Take a breath. Be confident. This is where your CIO is testing you to think above and beyond your galaxy. She is looking to see if you can see the universe. Put these considerations into play to show you have the big picture.

  • Datapoint #1: people - There will be a lot of doubters, undoubtedly. Win your CIO over with a simple forecast about having a diligent education plan for numerous stakeholders in finance, IT, HR, business operations and even the manufacturing or retail depending on your industry.
  • Datapoint #2: process - The good news is your teams, likely, embrace CI/CD. The bad news is they aren’t prepared yet how to work together on Kubernetes .yaml files. Let your CIO know that processes will need to change, and you are already in documenting what you've done. In reality, the documentation doesn't have to be fancy but it has to be thorough.
  • Datapoint #3: technology - Ironically, this may be the least of your worries--you’re already working with containers. Assuming this is a strategic step forward towards microservices, an important transformation here is in the planning and budgeting of autoscaling k8s in a hybrid cloud environment. Certainly, no small task but one you have complete control over as compared to the first two options above so let your CIO feel comfortable that you already have this one in the bag.

These are tough questions. Not all are technical in nature. Your CIO wants to pick what’s right for your company. More importantly, your CIO wants you to pick what’s right for the budget.

My recommendation is that you don’t make this a sole decision. Run a short meeting with your peers and do a SWOT analysis. I think you will find their insights to be just as rewarding as making the appropriate decision. At the end of the day, managing your new cluster will be a team effort anyway. Then don't forget to manage-up by making sure your CIO gets the meeting notes. This preparedness may just turn your 2019 pet project into a much bigger owners-stake for something amazing in 2020.

Topics: Business Agility, Business/IT alignment, CIO, Cloud, Cloud Computing, CTO, Infrastructure Automation, Kubernetes

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