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How tech companies and startups get to market faster with containers on Google Cloud

February 9, 2022
Kelsey Hightower

Principal Engineer

Every tech company and growing startup faces pressure to make efficient use of technical talent. Increasingly, this means determining if and how the cloud can help this talent focus on things like product development instead of IT overhead. These challenges are the starting place for our new whitepaper “The future of infrastructure will be containerized,” which is informed by our work with tech companies and startups who’ve chosen Google Cloud across a range of industries, from healthcare and manufacturing to software, fintech and e-commerce

For example, if your tech company or startup is in the cloud but spends lots of resources on custom tooling and maintenance, you’re almost certainly under-leveraging what the cloud can do. You might also be locking yourself into an architecture that won’t let you easily adapt or change things as your needs evolve.

The whitepaper examines these challenges to growth and explains how tech companies and startups can use managed container platforms in the cloud to maximize developer efficiency, accelerate time to market, and eliminate IT management that doesn’t help differentiate the business. In this blog post, we’ll explore one element of this discussion: infrastructure management. Be sure to check out the full whitepaper for all the details. 

The case for containers and Kubernetes

Compared to previous virtualization technologies, containers are more lightweight, faster, more portable, and easier to manage—and a managed container platform like Kubernetes can extend these advantages even further. That’s why we’re seeing a massive shift to containers and Kubernetes

Simply put, infrastructure and technical debt can slow down tech companies and startups. Traditional virtual machines (VMs) are neither simple to manage nor likely to maximize your workloads. Maximizing the cloud isn’t just about renting cheap resources—it’s about embracing modern, more efficient ways of operating that let businesses spend more time serving customers. 

VMs virtualize at the hardware level and thus require higher degrees of management, less portability, and less consistent and efficient scaling. Containers, in contrast, virtualize further up the stack, at the OS level, meaning they contain the libraries and dependencies needed to run apps and services but are significantly more lightweight, easier to manage, and can accommodate modern operating models. VMs aren’t built for the speed at which today’s tech companies and startups need to move, but with a robust container orchestration like Kubernetes, startups can leverage proven patterns for running reliable, secure infrastructure at scale. 

Kubernetes is open source and platform-agnostic, offering all the common tooling out of the box to secure and speed up each stage of the build-and-deploy life cycle. Everything is automated, with the complexity abstracted away—the vast majority of infrastructure-as-code is eliminated as the platform shifts to infrastructure-as-data, with users able to tell Kubernetes what they want rather than writing code to tell it what to do. In terms of both time saved in the present and flexibility preserved for the future, Kubernetes can be vastly more valuable than proprietary tech stacks or even a management-heavy implementation of VMs running in the cloud. 

Kuberetes also lets tech companies and startups reduce management overhead according to their needs, with many different approaches available for different workloads: 

  • Kubernetes gives traditional workloads the benefits of a modern platform by letting organizations separate apps from VMs and put them in containers.

  • Managed computing platforms turn cloud services into platforms-as-a-service, giving tech companies and startups the power and flexibility of containers and the convenience of serverless. There’s no server, no cluster configuration, and no maintenance, which means organizations can dramatically reduce overhead labor without compromising control.

  • For workloads that don’t require much control over cluster configuration, tech companies and startups can use Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) in Autopilot mode to provision clusters, while paying for only the workload, not the cluster. In this way, they can eliminate cluster administration while optimizing security and saving potentially substantial amounts of money.

  • For more cloud-native applications, serverless options like Cloud Run, eliminate underlying infrastructure and serve as the end-to-end host for applications, data, and even analysis. A serverless platform lets organizations start running containers with minimal complexity in a fully-managed environment with security, performance, scalability, and best practices baked in.

Accelerating time to market while preserving future freedom

Tech company and startup leaders should also consider the value of the Kubernetes community and its surrounding ecosystem, as its stable innovation defines today’s industry standards and best practices. The technology benefits in terms of speed, complexity, and labor are clear when it comes to containers, but as an open-source platform with many active contributors, it is also an onramp to future architecture innovations. Being cutting-edge and developer-oriented, Kubernetes can also help organizations to attract top technical talent, in addition to letting them empower developers they already employ. And not to be neglected, because Kubernetes is open source, it offers transparency in proprietary solutions, limiting the risks of lockin. Top to bottom, it provides a framework for tech companies and startups to bring innovations to their customers, faster. To learn more, read the full whitepaper or visit the Google Cloud for startups and tech companies page.

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