Kubernetes gets a lot of attention in the tech world. But it is almost completely unknown to anyone in the business world. This situation isn’t unusual. Technology is moving so fast the business teams are less and less familiar with systems they rely on.
This makes it much harder when you need to talk to the business about a particular technology. So how do you explain something like Kubernetes to a business team?
The simplest definition of Kubernetes I’ve found is this: Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation (source).
This definition makes sense to almost anyone reading this article on DZone. Unfortunately, it is meaningless for business stakeholders. Business users don’t know what containerized workloads are. Nor do they know why anyone would need declarative configuration.
When it comes to explaining this tech to a business team you can’t use technical language. You must explain what Kubernetes is in a way the business teams will understand. Here are three tips to help you do that.
Ask yourself, do you really need to explain it?
If you think you need to explain Kubernetes to a business team stop and ask yourself if you really need to. Marketing teams don’t explain their tools and methods to other business units. They pick the right tool for the job and get on with it. Do you need to explain Kubernetes or can you just get on and use it?
Ask yourself what is the purpose of explaining it? It’s unlikely you are training the business on how to use Kubernetes. It is more likely that you are asking for funding to implement it. If that’s the case you need to focus on what Kubernetes will do for them.
Don’t explain the technology, explain what it does for them
After you are sure you need to talk about Kubernetes to a business team you need to work out what to say. This part it tough, you need to avoid the temptation to talk about the technology. Instead, focus on what Kubernetes does for the business.
Here are some examples:
- Kubernetes keeps applications and software running even when there is a sudden rush of people using it. Sudden increases in usage won’t crash the system.
- Kubernetes can lower the cost of IT hardware. Kubernetes helps fit lots more software and services into the existing system. Think of it like a grand master of the game Tetris — Kubernetes can fit the pieces we need into the space available.
- Kubernetes keeps secret stuff secret. Kubernetes can build secret rooms in the IT network that are much harder for hackers to find. Passwords are safer when stored using Kubernetes than on some older technologies.
There are more benefits than this, but these three help describe the business value. And they do it in a non-technical way. When talking to the business think about why they benefit from Kubernetes. That tells you why they would care, and when people care they pay attention.
Describe a world without Kubernetes
If you are making the case to implement Kubernetes in your company it can help to show life without it. Give examples of current IT systems limitations and highlight the value of changing to something new. As with tip #2, don’t explain the technology, explain what the technology stops the business doing. Here are some examples that may be relevant for your company and situation:
- Company growth will cost more money without Kubernetes. Old systems scale by adding servers or paying for more cloud storage. Kubernetes makes the best use of the system we already have and means we don’t have to buy new equipment as often.
- Sudden growth could cripple the systems. Getting 50% more users may be great for business but if the current systems can’t handle it the services would stop. That type of disruption is very bad for business. Kubernetes would make scaling simpler and smother with less service downtime.
- Current system failures take time to fix. When a system fails, we have to find and fix the problem. That takes time. Kubernetes can automate the find and fix of some issues. If there is an IT problem your business teams might never know because it is automatically fixed by Kubernetes.
These examples may not fit your exact situation but you get the idea. Paint a picture of life without Kubernetes and you’ll help make the case for upgrading.
Most of us try to avoid having to explain tech to business teams. But sometimes we can’t avoid it. If you talk to business teams about Kubernetes make sure you really need to. Do you need to explain the technology or do you need to explain why the technology is needed?
If you do need to explain Kubernetes to a business team, avoid the technical details. Focus on what Kubernetes does for the business. Paint a picture of a future with and without it. Do that and the business team will understand what Kubernetes does for them. Even if they don’t have the slightest idea how it works.