Kubernetes specific concepts

Kubernetes specific concepts
Kubernetes specific concepts

As a part of the Kubernetes tutorials for beginners series, my goal is to offer a full and solid list of articles that goes through the very basics definitions, the history and the need to use Kubernetes and containers until i reach the deep parts, so regardless of your technical background, i will offer you everything you need here to master Kubernetes step by step.

On this article, we’ll take a look on Kubernetes specific concepts cause to make use of Kubernetes, it requires understanding the different abstractions that it uses to represent the state of the system, such as services, pods, volumes, namespaces, and deployments…

Kubernetes Concepts

The Desired State

Desired state is one of the core concepts of Kubernetes. You are free to define a state for the execution of containers inside Pods. If, due to some failure, the container stops running, Kubernetes recreates the Pod based on the lines of the desired state.

Kubernetes strictly ensures that all the containers running across the cluster are always in the desired state. This is enforced by Kubernetes Master which is a part of the Kubernetes Control Plane. You can use the kubectl which interacts directly with the cluster to set or modify the desired state through the Kubernetes API.

Kubernetes Object

An object in Kubernetes is anything that persists in the system, such as Pods, deployment records like ReplicationControllers, ReplicaSets, and Deployment controllers. Objects are used to define the desired state of the Kubernetes system.

Pods define what is to be on the system; deployments define parameters of the Pods, such as how many copies; and services define their connections. When objects are created, Kubernetes will ensure that the objects persist, and the system matches what is defined by the objects.

Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes object
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes object
Kubernetes Pod

A Pod is the basic unit of organization in Kubernetes. A Pod will contain one or more containers, all of which share storage, network, and deployment specifications. Everything in a Pod will be deployed together, at the same time, in the same location, and will share a schedule along with the deployment parameters.

A Pod can contain more than one container, but in most practical applications, each Pod contains just a single container. Similar to the container itself, a Pod is a specialized environment. Each Pod has its own unique specifications, and those are usually optimized for the container in the Pod. Tightly coupled service containers that all perform a similar function, such as file locators or controllers, may share a Pod, but in most cases a single container keeps its environment optimized for the service it runs.

If you do have multiple containers within a single Pod, they share an IP address that they can use to communicate outside of the Pod, and they can see each other through localhost.

Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes pod
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes pod
Kubernetes Name

Each object in Kubernetes is given a Name. The name of each object is provided to Kubernetes in the deployment record. Object names need to be unique within a namespace, but can be reused across separate namespaces in the system. If an object is removed from the system, the name can freely be used by another object.

Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes name
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes name
Kubernetes Name Example

For example, let’s say you have a Pod that contains AwesomeApp. You want 3 instances of the Pod, so you name the Pod objects AwesomeApp1, AwesomeApp2, and AwesomeApp3. You decide that you want another copy, so you spin up a new instance of the Pod. Since it is in the same namespace as the other instances, you name it AwesomeApp4. Something happens along the line, and service AwesomeApp2 fails. Kubernetes kills the Pod that contains AwesomeApp2 and spins up a new copy. The name AwesomeApp2 is free to use now, since there is no object in the namespace with that name.

If you create another namespace in the system, you are free to use the names AwesomeApp1, AwesomeApp2, and AwesomeApp3 again in this space.

Kubernetes UID

The UID is a unique, internal identifier for each object in the system. The UID is defined by Kubernetes when the object is created and is used by the system to differentiate between clones of the same object.

For example, say you have a Pod that contains AwesomeApp. You want 3 instances of the Pod, so let’s say Kubernetes assigns them the UIDs 001, 002, and 003. If you make a new namespace and deploy 3 new Pods into that space, each new Pod will be given its own unique UID. The UID of each object must be unique on the system, even across namespaces.

Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes uid
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes uid
Kubernetes Label

Labels are key-value pairs used to identify and describe objects, such as “version:1.1” or “cluster:sf.” An object can have as many labels as you want, but cannot have more than one of the same key.

Labels are not used by the Kubernetes system, but provide a way for users to organize and map the objects in the system. For example, you can use them to perform an action on all Pods with the label “version:1.1” or a different action on all Pods with the label “cluster:tokyo.”

Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes label
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes label
Kubernetes ReplicaSet (ReplicationController)

ReplicaSets and ReplicationControllers are used to ensure that the correct number of Pods are running. The ReplicaSet defines what Pods are in it and how many copies of the Pods are to exist across the system. The desired number of Pods in the system can easily be scaled up or down by updating the ReplicaSet. Kubernetes then updates the number of Pods on the system to match the new specifications.

ReplicaSets define the Pods in it by the container image and one or more labels. Therefore, a different ReplicaSet can be made for different uses of the same container. For example, you can decide to have 3 copies of a container on your cluster in San Francisco, but only two copies of the same container on the Tokyo cluster. Alternately, you could have a ReplicaSet for our San Francisco cluster running version 1.1 of a service, while the Tokyo copies run version 1.2 of the same service.

ReplicaSets allow you to customize the number and types of services for your app, running across the environment.

ReplicaSet recently replaced the ReplicationController. Both perform the same function in a Kubernetes system.

Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes replicaSet
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes replicaSet
Kubernetes Deployment Controller

The Deployment Controller defines the state of Deployment Objects, like Pods and ReplicaSets. When you are deploying an app in a Kubernetes environment, we commonly referred to the state of the system being updated to match a defined state. Deployments are the object used to define and maintain the state of the system. Deployments are used to create and deploy, scale, monitor, roll back, and otherwise manage the state of Pods and ReplicaSets on the system.

Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes deployment controller
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes deployment controller
Kubernetes Namespace

Namespaces are useful in multi-tenant systems, to divide resources among different users of the system. Similar Pods can be deployed in different namespaces with access restrictions to different user groups of the system, each providing unique specifications for that group.

Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes namespace
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes namespace
Kubernetes Service

When you launch a container, it is given an IP address to communicate in and out. This is fine for the life of the container, but each container has its own IP address, and the life cycle of any given container is not consistent.

Kubernetes opens a port for application containers to see all other apps in the system. This port will remain open and consistent, even as instances of the containers are started and stopped. Therefore, communication between your application and other services on the system remains as long as your system is running.


Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes service
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes service
Kubernetes Volume

Used to solve the problem containers have with persistent data storage, at least to a point. A volume in Kubernetes is associated with the Pod, not the container within the Pod. Therefore, a container can fail and be relaunched, and the Volume will persist. The relaunched container can pick up where the failed one left off. If the Pod is killed, however, the Volume will be removed with it.

Kubernetes Concepts - kubernetes volume
Kubernetes Concepts – kubernetes volume

used to ensure control over the deployment ordering and access to volumes, etc.


used to run a copy of a Pod on all the nodes of a cluster or on specified nodes.


used to perform some task and exit after successfully completing their work or after a given period of time.

Conclusion : How Kubernetes works

Kubernetes’s architecture makes use of various concepts and abstractions. Some of these are variations on existing, familiar notions, but others are specific to Kubernetes.

The highest-level Kubernetes abstraction, the cluster, refers to the group of machines running Kubernetes (itself a clustered application) and the containers managed by it. A Kubernetes cluster must have a master, the system that commands and controls all the other Kubernetes machines in the cluster. A highly available Kubernetes cluster replicates the master’s facilities across multiple machines. But only one master at a time runs the job scheduler and controller-manager.

Each cluster contains Kubernetes nodes. Nodes might be physical machines or VMs. Again, the idea is abstraction: whatever the app is running on, Kubernetes handles deployment on that substrate. It is also possible to ensure that certain containers run only on VMs or only on bare metal.

Nodes run pods, the most basic Kubernetes objects that can be created or managed. Each pod represents a single instance of an application or running process in Kubernetes, and consists of one or more containers. Kubernetes starts, stops, and replicates all containers in a pod as a group. Pods keep the user’s attention on the application, rather than on the containers themselves. Details about how Kubernetes needs to be configured, from the state of pods on up, is kept in Etcd, a distributed key-value store.

Pods are created and destroyed on nodes as needed to conform to the desired state specified by the user in the pod definition. Kubernetes provides an abstraction called a controller for dealing with the logistics of how pods are spun up, rolled out, and spun down. Controllers come in a few different flavors depending on the kind of application being managed. For instance, the recently introduced “StatefulSet” controller is used to deal with applications that need persistent state. Another kind of controller, the deployment, is used to scale an app up or down, update an app to a new version, or roll back an app to a known-good version if there’s a problem.

Because pods live and die as needed, we need a different abstraction for dealing with the application lifecycle. An application is supposed to be a persistent entity, even when the pods running the containers that comprise the application aren’t themselves persistent. To that end, Kubernetes provides an abstraction called a service.

A service describes how a given group of pods (or other Kubernetes objects) can be accessed via the network. As the Kubernetes documentation puts it, the pods that constitute the back end of an application might change, but the front end shouldn’t have to know about that or track it. Services make this possible.

A few more pieces internal to Kubernetes round out the picture. The scheduler parcels out workloads to nodes so that they’re balanced across resources and so that deployments meet the requirements of the application definitions. The controller manager ensures the state of the system—applications, workloads, etc.—matches the desired state defined in Etcd’s configuration settings.

It’s important to keep in mind that none of the low-level mechanisms used by containers, like Docker itself, are replaced by Kubernetes. Rather, Kubernetes provides a larger set of abstractions for using them for the sake of keeping apps running at scale.


This is not everything about Kubernetes concepts, you can refer to the Kubernetes official documentation to get more informations, but i promise you that i will go deeply with every concept as soon as possible. I think you all understand now how Kubernetes works, so it’s the time to go to the installation and setup part!


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