Defining Knative: What is it and How Can It Benefit You?

In recent years, serverless computing has gained immense popularity in the IT industry and software development world. Among various serverless platforms, Knative has emerged as a leading choice for developers. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global serverless architecture market is expected to grow from $7.6 billion in 2020 to $21.1 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 22.7% during the forecast period.

“Knative is the bridge that connects the developers’ code to the vast world of Kubernetes, simplifying and speeding up the serverless journey.” – Kelsey Hightower

What is Knative? Definition of Knative platform

Knative (pronounced “kay-nay-tiv”) is an open-source platform that extends Kubernetes to help developers build, deploy, and manage modern serverless workloads. It provides higher-level API abstractions and building blocks for developing container-based applications using a serverless model. Launched in 2018 by Google in collaboration with IBM, Red Hat, and other industry leaders, Knative has since evolved into a thriving ecosystem supported by a vast community of contributors.

ℹ️ Synonyms: Serverless, Cloud Functions, Function as a service, FaaS, Kubernetes-native functions, Kubernetes-based serverless architecture

How it Works

Knative is a collection of three core components: Serving, Eventing, and Build. These components work together to enable developers to build and deploy containerized applications while abstracting away the complexities of underlying infrastructure.

Serving

Knative Serving provides an autoscaling system with services that can scale from zero to cater to varying workload demands. It creates and deploys Kubernetes resources such as Deployments, Services, and Ingress in response to user-defined configurations.

Eventing

Knative Eventing is a middleware layer that facilitates asynchronous communication between the components in the system. It allows for event-driven architectures by providing various building blocks such as brokers, triggers, and event sources.

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Build

Knative Build, now superseded by Tekton, is a powerful tool for transforming source code into container images. It defines a series of steps in a pipeline to perform tasks such as fetching code, building artifacts, and pushing images to a registry.

Benefits of using Knative

Using Knative offers multiple advantages in developing and deploying container-based applications. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Seamless integration with Kubernetes, leveraging its powerful features and extensibility.
  • Developer-focused abstractions that simplify building, deploying, and scaling serverless applications.
  • Portable across various cloud providers, enabling a consistent and vendor-neutral serverless experience.
  • Out-of-the-box implementation of best practices like autoscaling, rolling updates, and event-driven architectures.
  • Strong ecosystem and community support, fostering innovation and continuous improvement.

Knative use cases

Knative is versatile and can be used in a wide array of scenarios:

Serverless application development

Knative empowers developers to build and deploy serverless applications that scale automatically in response to varying workload demands. It fosters a productive development process without having to worry about infrastructure management.

Microservices architecture

Knative simplifies building and managing microservices by providing features such as traffic splitting, gradual rollouts, and event-driven communication.

Multi-cloud deployments

By being compatible with Kubernetes-based platforms, Knative enables organizations to deploy their workloads across various cloud providers while maintaining a consistent experience.

Code Examples

import * as functions from 'firebase-functions';
import { CloudEvents } from 'cloudevents-sdk';
import { cloudeventsMiddleware } from 'cloudevents-middleware';

// Knative Eventing handler
const knativeHandler = (event: CloudEvents.Event) => {
  console.log('Knative CloudEvent:', event.format());
};

// Knative Eventing CloudFunction
export const knativeFunction = functions.https.onRequest(
  cloudeventsMiddleware(knativeHandler, { middleware: false })
);

Best Practices

To get the most out of Knative, it’s essential to follow some best practices, including the use of idiomatic language-specific frameworks, adhering to the Twelve-Factor App methodology, and monitoring and observability through tools like Prometheus and Grafana. Additionally, keeping your application configurations lean and modular will help enable seamless deployments and runtime management. Exploring the rich ecosystem of Knative extensions, such as event sources, brokers, and monitoring tools, can further enhance the overall development experience.

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Most recommended books about Knative

Here are some popular books to deepen your understanding of Knative:

  1. Knative Cookbook: Building Effective Serverless Applications with Kubernetes and Istio by Burr Sutter, Kamesh Sampath
  2. Mastering Kubernetes: Level up your container orchestration skills with Kubernetes to build, run, secure, and observe large-scale distributed apps, 3rd Edition by Gigi Sayfan
  3. Serverless Architectures on AWS: With examples using AWS Lambda by Peter Sbarski

Conclusion

In summary, Knative is a powerful and flexible platform for developing serverless applications on Kubernetes. Its developer-centric abstractions streamline the development process, while its versatile components cater to a wide range of use cases. By leveraging Knative, developers can build, deploy, and manage containerized applications seamlessly, fostering a faster and more efficient software development lifecycle. So, if you’re looking to adopt a serverless architecture for your applications, Knative might be the perfect solution for you.

Tagged as

auto-scaling, benefits, cloud-native, definition, event-driven

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Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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li-url Lou Reverchuk

IT Entrepreneur

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