Kubernetes has emerged in recent years to become a cornerstone of the modern cloud computing landscape.
At its most basic level, Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform, enabling organization to deploy, manage and scale application container workloads. It is also the foundation of the Cloud Native, movement, which is all about enabling an agile developer and operations workflow that can run on-premises and across different cloud providers.
Kubernetes can be run in a number of different way including via:
Kubernetes Distributions: These are software bundles that enable a complete Kubernetes deployment that an organization can choose to deploy on-premises or in the cloud of their choice.
Cloud Provider Services: These are fully managed services, that are offered directly by public cloud providers.
How to Choose a Cloud Kubernetes Service
For some organizations it might make sense to choose a Kubernetes distribution rather than a cloud provider Kubernetes services. For example, if an organization is planning a hybrid deployment that runs across different environments including both on-premises and public cloud, choosing a distribution might be a better option.
For those that are looking for a fully managed service from a public cloud provider, there are a number of criteria that should be considered.
Adjacent Services - A Kubernetes deployment is rarely the only thing an organization needs in the cloud. Choose a cloud provider that has adjacent services that the organization is already using or needs is an obvious choice.
Security Controls - Making sure that the cloud providers security controls match the requirement of the organization is critical.
Geographic Availability - Different cloud providers can have different coverage for various geographies and as such it's important to take where the cloud provider has points of presence to help ensure better performance.
Pricing - Cost is always an issue and understanding how much it will cost to operate is a primary concern for any organization.
In this Datamation top companies list, we spotlight the top Kubernetes cloud providers.
Value proposition for potential buyers. Alibaba has emerged to become the largest cloud provider in China as well as a global player offering users Kubernetes deployment options around the world.
- A key differentiator for Alibaba is its points of presence in China, making it an ideal provider for those that need low latency for that region.
- ACK is further enabled by Alibaba's Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) offering that enables a hybrid cloud deployment for Kubernetes.
- Another differentiator for Alibaba is its Terway container networking plugin, which provides a high-performance network interface for containers running in ACK.
Value proposition for potential buyers. AWS is the largest public cloud provider on the planet, offering a broad array of services that can complement the use of Kubernetes.
- A key differentiator for EKS is the ability to run the service using AWS Fargate, which is a serverless approach to deploying containers. It offers the promise of easier management and lower cost.
- EKS can also extend to on-premises environments with the Amazon Outposts hardware service
- Amazon has deployed EKS across multiple availability zone providing high availability for users around the world.
Value proposition for potential buyers. DigitalOcean has made its' name as low-cost cloud provider with a strong developer focus, which carries forward to the platform managed Kubernetes service.
- A key differentiator for DigitalOcean is the ability to rapidly deploy applications with the service's collection of Kubernetes 1-Click apps.
- Visibility and metrics is another strong suit, with integrated tooling that informs administrators about statues and resource utilization.
- The guided configuration options for setup is a real plus for new users, providing an easy way to get started.
Value proposition for potential buyers. Google has more direct experience than perhaps any other single vendor in running containers at scale and as the original creator of Kubernetes.
- A key differentiator for GKE is the Migrate for Anthos service that enables users to migrate from Virtual Machines (VMs) into containers running in Kubernetes.
- Security controls are a core area of focus for GKE with the GKE sandbox capability providing an additional layer of isolation for sensitive workloads.
- Integrates with Google Cloud identity and access management functionality.
Value proposition for potential buyers. IBM's global scale and deep enterprise capabilities make it a good choice for organizations looking for a secure and well integrated Kubernetes services.
- Among the key differentiators for the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Sevice are the integrated security features such as continuous scanning of container images, as well as identification of configuration weaknesses and known vulnerabilities.
- IBM is also one of the primary backers of the Istio service mesh project, which enables its Kubernetes services to more easily connect disparate sets of microservices.
- Developing tooling is also strong, with Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) DevOps pipeline support.
Value proposition for potential buyers. For organizations that have already bought into the Microsoft Azure cloud and other Microsoft services including ActiveDirectory, AKS is an obvious choice
- A key differentiator for AKS is its integration with Microsoft Azure Active Directory for identity and access management, that can also be aligned with enterprise policies.
- Integrated Helm chart support is another key feature, providing a path for users to easily onboard applications.
- Microsoft has also made developers a primary target for AKS, with its Visual Studio Code Kubernetes tools that enable developers to easily make uses of AKS features.
Value proposition for potential buyers. Oracle's Kubernetes offering is a good choice for organizations that have already chosen Oracle as a cloud or application services vendor.
- A key differentiator for the service is the integration of Oracle's private container registry to help enable secure application deployment.
- For developers, the integration of Oracle's Container Pipeline service, enables a streamlined DevOps model to build and run containers in Kubernetes.
- Starting new clusters can be done via a REST API, providing an additional layer of control and customization for developers.
Value proposition for potential buyers. OVHcloud is an OpenStack based public cloud provider with a global network for 30 data centers, with a particularly strong focus in Europe.
- A key differentiator for OVHcloud is that users can choose which version of Kubernetes they want to run. Options include any of the last three stable versions of Kubernetes.
- Role based access control (RBAC) is an integrated security capability, that can help organizations to securely manage Kubernetes.
- From a scalability perspective, users can make use of the OVH Load Balancer as part of the Kubernetes services to balance distribute traffic over multiple nodes.