What is Kubernetes sessions - 7: State

Read about the role of stateful applications in Kubernetes. Learn more about the differences between stateful and stateless apps and best practices for managing state in Kubernetes apps, including planning, deployment, scaling, monitoring, backup, and recovery.

Stateful applications play a critical role in many modern software systems, managing and preserving data across distributed environments. In the context of Kubernetes, managing stateful applications presents unique challenges and considerations. This article aims to provide an understanding of stateful applications in Kubernetes for those with average knowledge of the platform.

Understanding stateful and stateless apps

Stateful applications maintain a persistent state across multiple transactions, whereas stateless applications don't store any information about previous transactions. Each interaction with a stateless application is independent of prior interactions.

Stateful applications offer benefits such as improved data consistency, user session management, and data persistence. However, they also present challenges, including increased complexity and potential scalability issues. In Kubernetes environments, stateful applications require special attention due to the ephemeral nature of containers and the dynamic orchestration of workloads.

Kubernetes StatefulSets

Kubernetes StatefulSets provide a solution for managing stateful applications within the platform. StatefulSets offer key features that make them well-suited for stateful workloads, including:

  • Stable network identities: StatefulSets ensure that each pod has a unique and stable hostname, like "web-0" or "web-1," making it easier to manage and communicate between stateful components.
  • Persistent storage: StatefulSets can be configured to use Persistent Volumes (PVs) to store data, ensuring that data is retained even if a pod is rescheduled or restarted.

StatefulSets manage the lifecycle of stateful applications by creating, scaling, and deleting pods in a specific order while maintaining their unique identities and associated storage.

Persistent storage solutions in kubernetes

Kubernetes provides Persistent Volumes (PVs) and Persistent Volume Claims (PVCs) as a means of managing storage for stateful applications. PVs represent physical storage resources in a cluster, while PVCs are requests for storage resources by users.

PVs and PVCs enable stateful applications to retain their data across pod restarts and rescheduling events. Some popular storage solutions and concepts in Kubernetes include:

  • Dynamic provisioning: Kubernetes can automatically provision storage on-demand using Storage Classes, simplifying storage management for stateful applications.
  • Storage classes: Storage classes define the type of storage, provisioner, and other parameters that determine how PVs are created and managed within a cluster.

Best practices for managing state in Kubernetes apps

Planning and design

Before deploying stateful applications in Kubernetes, it's essential to plan and design the application architecture with Kubernetes-specific considerations in mind. This includes accounting for storage requirements, network connectivity, and scalability.

Deployment and scaling

When deploying and scaling stateful applications in Kubernetes, using rolling updates and PodDisruptionBudgets can help ensure minimal downtime and maintain data consistency. Rolling updates allow for updating stateful applications one pod at a time, while PodDisruptionBudgets prevent too many pods from being taken down simultaneously during maintenance or scaling events.

Monitoring, Backup, and Recovery

Monitoring stateful applications in Kubernetes is crucial for maintaining their health and performance. Implementing monitoring tools and observability practices can help identify and resolve issues quickly. Additionally, regular backups and a robust recovery strategy are critical for ensuring the durability and reliability of stateful applications.


Managing stateful applications in Kubernetes presents unique challenges that require special consideration and planning. By understanding the differences between stateful and stateless applications, leveraging Kubernetes features like StatefulSets and Persistent Volumes, and following best practices, you can effectively manage stateful applications in your Kubernetes environments. We encourage you to explore and apply these concepts to enhance your Kubernetes deployments further.

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