Kubernetes Cost Management

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To examine container orchestration, solutions usually start with Kubernetes, either as an option or a point of comparison for a different platform. As open-source software that is free, Kubernetes offers great off-the-shelf value, but using it in action is still going to cost.  This blog presents the most relevant factors that drive up Kubernete-related costs.

Why Use Kubernetes?

A better question would be: why not use Kubernetes? In terms of container orchestration, Kubernetes is the most effective means of delivering application deployment through microservices. The elasticity of Kubernetes coincides with its compatibility with all the major cloud providers like GCP, Azure, and AWS, and it is highly compatible with third-party applications and customizations.

The fact that Kubernetes is open source means two important facts. First, it’s free, as in free of charge to download and use Kubernetes without any extras. That means that while it may still cost money to deploy, you can experiment with the platform in closed tests without risk. It also means there is an open source community where anyone can find answers to specific challenges, and that there are countless teams working on add-ons, integrations, and their own version based on the Kubernetes source code.

Cutting Cost With Kubernetes

The following are some measures you can take to save on container orchestration with Kubernetes:

  • Always Monitor Usage – Before you know where to direct your attention to cut Kubernetes’ costs, there must be a reliable way to measure resources. Cloud providers will include Kubernetes monitoring features in their tools like Amazon’s EKS and Google’s GKE. You can also find third-party solutions of both open source and proprietary variety, or combinations of the three options. Monitoring will tell you where your highest expenditures are coming from, and provide insight about what needs to change.
  • Leverage the Cloud Provider’s Tools – Each cloud provider competes for your business with the same general features with varying specifics on the numbers, but they will also strive to provide perks the others don’t. For a container-based application, consider how the provider handles compatibility with Kubernetes and other open source software to find the most cost-effective integrations.
  • Use Pod Autoscaling – One of the main features of Kubernetes, autoscaling sets the resource usage to match the demand of each workload, avoiding wasted assets. There are two types of autoscaling available Kubernetes: horizontal pod scaling, where the platform allocates more pods to meet workload requirements; and vertical autoscaling, where more resources like vCPU and vRAM are provided for each pod. The cost benefits of using each depend on how the cloud provider charges per unit.
  • Managing Traffic – Spot instances–labeled as such in AWS, but called ‘spot virtual machines in GCP and Azure–are one way users cut costs with the various cloud platforms. These are essentially discounts provided for making cloud resources available when they aren’t in use, with the downside being less than perfect availability of that instance. You can save on the traffic costs of using gateways by taking advantage of public routes and volume savings.
  • Downsizing and Rightsizing – Downsizing clusters (sets of nodes) is to limit their size or amount to what is needed for production. This could mean removing the clusters themselves, or removing nodes within them that are unused. Rightsizing pertains more to the power that is granted to the clusters through such attributes as computing power (vCPU) and memory (RAM). The same idea applies here, where the monitoring we mentioned in the first step will inform you about which resources can be lessened to cut costs.

Finding Expert Help to Cut Kubernetes Costs

The preceding information was to provide information you can use to find ways to lower the fees associated with your container orchestration on any of the cloud platforms. Signing up for applicable services and discounts is usually first on people’s agenda, but it’s easy to get complacent about cost optimization for container management if the bills have been consistent.

For specific inquiries, consider Foghorn’s Kubernetes Consulting Services for more fine-tuned solutions performed by experienced engineers.  You can also click the button below to connect with one of our FogOps experts directly.