Transitioning from Virtual Machines (VMs) to Kubernetes is akin to moving from traditional housing to smart, automated homes. This shift can significantly enhance the performance, scalability, and management of applications. In this articles, we’ll explore and learn the best practices of transitioning from Virtual Machines (VMs) to Kubernetes, the challenges encountered, and how overcoming these hurdles can unlock a new level of performance and scalability for modern-day applications and your stack.

Understanding the Landscape of Virtual Machines and Kubernetes

Virtual Machines (VMs):  

Virtual Machines have been the foundation in enabling the efficient use of hardware resources. They allow multiple OS instances to coexist on a single physical machine. However, they come with overheads due to the emulation of hardware, leading to sub-optimal resource utilization.


Kubernetes orchestrates containerized applications, ensuring optimal resource utilization and proper scaling. Unlike VMs, Kubernetes minimizes overhead by sharing the host system’s OS among all containers, making it a more efficient choice.

Transitioning from Virtual Machines to Kubernetes

Moving to Kubernetes does not imply that Virtual Machines are inadequate; rather it highlights the efficiency and scalability Kubernetes brings to the table. By orchestrating containers, Kubernetes allows for more granular control of resources, ensuring that your applications run efficiently, and resources are not wasted. The transition to Kubernetes opens up possibilities for better load balancing, more straightforward scalability, and an overall more resilient system.

  1. Containerization

Transition begins by containerizing your applications, which involves packaging the app and its dependencies into containers. For example, you can write a Dockerfile that packages your entire application in a container.

FROM alpine
RUN apk add --update nodejs npm
ADD package.json .
RUN npm install
ADD . .
ENTRYPOINT node /ops/index.js

Deployment on Kubernetes

Once applications are containerized, deploying them on a Kubernetes cluster becomes the next step. This process is greatly simplified through the use of open-source workflows. By using a sample template manifest file available on GitHub, developers only need to make minor edits to adapt the template to their specific project. The necessary changes involve replacing placeholders with the actual repository name and modifying steps as per your application requirements.

  • facilitates this transition, making it straightforward for developers, startups, and individuals keen on migrating from VMs to Kubernetes. The example below showcases a template deployment file that can be used as a starting point:
version: "1"
- name: sample-expressjs-pipeline-do-k8s-cdktf:0.2.5
description: Build and Publish an image in a DigitalOcean Container Registry
- DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive
- STACK_TYPE=do-k8s-cdktf
- ORG=cto-ai
- GH_ORG=workflows-sh
- REPO=sample-expressjs-do-k8s-cdktf
- "github:workflows-sh/sample-expressjs-do-k8s-cdktf:pull_request.opened"
- "github:workflows-sh/sample-expressjs-do-k8s-cdktf:pull_request.synchronize"
- "github:workflows-sh/sample-expressjs-do-k8s-cdktf:pull_request.merged"
- name: sample-expressjs-build-do-k8s-cdktf
description: Build step for sample-expressjs-do-k8s-cdktf
- git
- unzip
- wget
- tar
- docker build -f Dockerfile -t one-img-to-rule-them-all:latest .
- docker tag one-img-to-rule-them-all:latest$ORG/$REPO:$CLEAN_REF
- docker push$ORG/$REPO:$CLEAN_REF
- name: sample-expressjs-service-do-k8s-cdktf:0.1.6
description: Preview of image built by the pipeline
run: node /ops/index.js
port: [ '8080:8080' ]
- PORT=8080
- "github:workflows-sh/sample-expressjs-do-k8s-cdktf:pull_request.opened"
- "github:workflows-sh/sample-expressjs-do-k8s-cdktf:pull_request.synchronize"
- "github:workflows-sh/sample-expressjs-do-k8s-cdktf:pull_request.merged"
- build
- publish
- start

  • In this template, the events section should be updated with your repository name, and the steps under jobs should be modified as per your application’s build and deployment process. This template is designed for a simple Express.js application, and utilizes DigitalOcean's tools for building and publishing a container image, which is then deployed to a Kubernetes cluster managed via Terraform (as indicated by the cdktf in the pipeline name).
  • The event triggers specified in this template are set up to initiate the pipeline on certain GitHub events like opening, synchronizing, or merging a pull request. The jobs defined within the pipeline handle everything from setting up the necessary build environment, to building and pushing the container image to DigitalOcean's container registry.
  • This exemplifies how open-source workflows and platforms like can enable the migration and deployment process, allowing developers to shift from VMs to Kubernetes with minimal friction and focus on using the enhanced performance and scalability that Kubernetes offers.

Performance Gains

  • Resource Efficiency: Kubernetes optimizes resource usage, ensuring that applications use only the resources they need.
  • Auto-Scaling:  With Horizontal Pod Autoscalar, Kubernetes can automatically scale applications based on load, ensuring performance even during peak times.
  • Self-healing:  Kubernetes self-healing capabilities ensure that failed containers are automatically replaced, guaranteeing high availability.

The journey from Virtual Machines to Kubernetes doesn't have to be a complex endeavor. With the right tools and resources, you can easily transition and unlock unparalleled performance and scalability for your applications. provides an intuitive platform and a community of experts to guide you through this transition.

🚀 Upcoming Webinar: Scale from VMs to Kubernetes

Join DigitalOcean and to gain insights into infrastructure modernization migrating from virtual machines to Kubernetes. on Nov 1st, 12 pm ET for "Unlock Next-level Performance: Scale from VMs to #Kubernetes". Register now to not miss out: