Kubernetes costs spiralling as businesses fail to monitor spend

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

30 Jun, 2021

Expenditure on Kubernetes is rising dramatically, and most businesses are struggling to accurately project how much they’re expecting to spend on their container orchestration systems in future.

Over the last year, Kubernetes-related costs surged for 68% of businesses, according to research by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which manages the ecosystem. Just 12% of businesses lowered their Kubernetes expenses, while among organisations to have sustained an increase, half saw it jump by more than 20%.

Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration system for automating app deployment, scaling and management. While it was originally designed by Google, Kubernetes is now maintained by the CNCF.

The trend does not come as a surprise, according to the report, because as most organisations adopt cloud-native architectures and scale up Kubernetes environments, the associated cloud costs will rise.

Despite costs projected to spiral, however, there’s a disconnect between these rising expenses and how well most businesses are able to accurately forecast Kubernetes costs, project these, and instigate processes that can manage overspend.

CNCF and the FinOps Foundation surveyed senior IT staff from their extended communities of 195 organisations, which is a small sample size but serves as a representative sample of a cross-section of businesses. 

The vast majority of respondents either don’t monitor Kubernetes spending at all, 24%, or rely on monthly estimates only, 44%. Only 13% used accurate show-backs while 14% had a chargeback programme in place. 

“As more organisations adopt cloud-native architectures and scale up Kubernetes environments, the associated cloud costs will rise,” the report said. “However, the FinOps for Kubernetes survey uncovered a disconnect between these rising expenses and how well most respondents have been able to accurately and effectively monitor Kubernetes costs, predict those costs, and instill processes that can curtail unnecessary overspend.

“Whether spending $10,000 per month or 100x that, the lack of real-time cost visibility and the insights and actions that organisations can take from that suggests that the majority of organizations leveraging Kubernetes can become significantly more cost-efficient – and do so without impacting performance.”

As cloud costs continue to rise for the majority of businesses, the report urges organisations to adopt processes and systems to track how much they spend. Firms should look beyond basic cost estimations and should instead seek to allocate costs back to granular environments and projects for show-back and chargeback.