Huawei’s Kubernetes journey began with one developer.
Over two years ago, one of the engineers employed by the networking and telecommunications giant became interested in Kubernetes
, the technology for managing application containers across clusters of hosts, and started contributing to its open source community. As the technology developed and the community grew, he kept telling his managers about it.
And as fate would have it, at the same time, Huawei was looking for a better orchestration system for its internal enterprise I.T. department, which supports every business flow processing. "We have more than 180,000 employees worldwide, and a complicated internal procedure, so probably every week this department needs to develop some new applications," says Peixin Hou, Huawei’s Chief Software Architect and Community Director for Open Source. "Very often our I.T. departments need to launch tens of thousands of containers, with tasks running across thousands of nodes across the world. It’s very much a distributed system, so we found that managing all of the tasks in a more consistent way is always a challenge."
In the past, Huawei had used virtual machines to encapsulate applications, but "every time when we start a VM," Hou says, "whether because it’s a new service or because it was a service that was shut down because of some abnormal node functioning, it takes a lot of time." Huawei turned to containerization, so the timing was right to try Kubernetes. It took a year to adopt that engineer’s suggestion – the process "is not overnight," says Hou – but once in use, he says, "Kubernetes basically solved most of our problems. Before, the time of deployment took about a week, now it only takes minutes. The developers are happy. That department is also quite happy."
Hou sees great benefits to the company that come with using this technology: "Kubernetes brings agility, scale-out capability, and DevOps practice to the cloud-based applications," he says. "It provides us with the ability to customize the scheduling architecture, which makes possible the affinity between container tasks that gives greater efficiency. It supports multiple container formats. It has extensive support for various container networking solutions and container storage."