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Kubernetes Container Management System Upgrade Offers New Features

The growth and maturity of the open source container orchestration platform adds potential new opportunities for the channel, say analysts.

The Kubernetes open-source project unveiled its second release of 2018 recently for its container orchestration platform – version 1.11 – which includes a myriad of new features for IT administrators such as in-cluster load balancing and container storage interface (CSI) enhancements.

Kubernetes 1.11 allows enterprises to orchestrate their containerized workloads within a structure that is flexible and expandable as needed, helping business users to break apart huge applications and processes to make them easier to operate and manage.

Among the key features of the new release are:

  • IPVS-based in-cluster service load balancing (IP virtual server), which provides high-performance, in-kernel load balancing using an improved programming interface. Benefits of the changes include better network throughput, better programming latency and higher scalability limits for the cluster-wide distributed load balancer that comprises the Kubernetes Service model, according to the Kubernetes team. IPVS is not yet the default setup, but clusters are able to be used immediately for production traffic.
  • CoreDNS is now available as a cluster DNS add-on option, which means increased scalability and flexibility for production applications. CoreDNS is a flexible, extensible authoritative DNS server which integrates with the Kubernetes API. As a single executable and single process, it has fewer moving parts than the previous DNS server and supports flexible use cases by creating custom DNS entries. Written in Go, it is also memory-safe.
  • Enhancements to the container storage interface, which have been requested for some time, include alpha support for raw block volumes to CSI. In addition, the latest version integrates CSI with the new kubelet plugin registration mechanism, making it easier to pass secrets to CSI plugins.
  • The dynamic kubelet configuration moves to beta in version 1.11, making it possible now for new kubelet configurations to be configured and rolled out in a live cluster via the API server. Currently, kubelets are configured via command-line flags, which makes it difficult to update kubelet configurations in a running cluster.
  • New storage features include alpha support for online resizing of Persistent Volumes, which allows users to increase the size of PVs without having to terminate pods and unmount volume first. The user will update the PVC to request a new size and kubelet will resize the file system for the PVC, according to the team.
  • Also new is the StorageObjectInUseProtection feature, which is now stable and prevents the removal of both Persistent Volumes that are bound to a Persistent Volume claim and Persistent Volume claims that are being used by a pod. This is meant to prevent issues from deleting a PV or a PVC that is currently tied to an active pod.

Several IT analysts told Channel Futures that the changes and evolution which continue within Kubernetes 1.11 offer good opportunities for channel partners to share the value of the platform with their customers to increase their service revenues.

"The more the channel learns how to implement tools like Kubernetes, the better the job they do for their clients," said Dan Olds, principal analyst with Gabriel Consulting Group. "It's just like back in the old days when VMware was first emerging as a must-have enterprise tool — the channel organizations that learned early on how to implement VMware in their client data centers got the lion's share of the business."

Dan Olds

Kubernetes "gives clients a lot of new options in terms of automated workload management, IT flexibility, resilience and cost savings," added Olds. "Channel partners should be proposing Kubernetes for any client that is using – or contemplating the use of – workload containers. Using containers is the next evolution of virtualization and Kubernetes is one of the very best tools for managing containers."

He called version 1.11 of the platform "a good evolutionary release, bringing some important new features, like better cluster level, load balancing and online resizing of storage volumes. Overall, Kubernetes is gaining popularity due to its feature set, low overhead, and reliability."

To accomplish these strategies, channel partners that want to maximize their usefulness to their clients need to understand Kubernetes at a deep level, while also knowing what customers want to do and what they have in their infrastructures, said Olds.

"This knowledge will give service providers the ability to provide much more detailed proposals, along with more specific customer benefits, as well as quantified results. The more you know about your customer, the better you can prescribe solutions."

Another analyst, Charles King, principal of Pund-IT, said the latest Kubernetes release adds important features that have been requested by business users, which he said is a wise part of a successful product evolution for customers with IT budgets to spend, especially larger organizations.

"Improving system reliability and availability while enhancing scalability and flexibility for production applications are key features for technologies that hope to qualify for 'enterprise prime time,'" said King. This strategy "shows that the team behind these technologies knows exactly what they're doing and are focused on delivering compelling, workable solutions to Kubernetes customers."

Charles King

Version 1.11, which is now generally available for production use on GitHub, incorporates features that had been requested within the API Machinery and Node Special Interest Groups (SIGs) of the Kubernetes community in the past.

The new version is designed to "make it increasingly possible to plug any infrastructure, cloud or on-premise[s], into the Kubernetes system," according to the Kubernetes team. Enterprise production users of Kubernetes today include The New York Times, Nordstrom, Squarespace and Crowdfire.

The Kubernetes 1.11 release team will hold a special webinar, July 31, at 1 p.m. ET, to highlight the major features in the release, including in-cluster load balancing and the CoreDNS plugin. Users can register here to participate in the webinar.

Also offered are a series of interactive tutorials to help IT administrators learn about and get started with Kubernetes.

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