Kubernetes has become the project developers turn to for container orchestration at scale. The open source container orchestration system out of Google is well-regarded, well-supported, and continues to evolve.
Kubernetes is also sprawling, complex, and difficult to set up and configure. Not only that, but much of the heavy lifting is left to the end user. The best approach, therefore, isn’t to grab the bits and try to go it alone, but to seek out a complete container solution that includes Kubernetes as a supported, maintained component.
This article looks at the six most prominent Kubernetes offerings. These are distributions that incorporate Kubernetes along with container tools, in the same sense that different vendors offer distributions of the Linux kernel and its userland.
Note that this list does not include dedicated cloud services, such as Amazon EKS or Google Kubernetes Engine. I’ve focused on software distributions that can be run locally or as a cloud-hosted opti
Canonical, maker of Ubuntu Linux, provides its own Kubernetes distribution. One of the big selling points for Canonical Kubernetes is the widely respected, well-understood, and commonly deployed Ubuntu Linux operating system underneath. Canonical claims that its stack works in any cloud or on-prem deployment, with support included for both CPU- and GPU-powered workloads. Paying customers can have their Kubernetes cluster remotely managed by Canonical engineers.
Canonical’s Kubernetes distribution is also available in a miniature version, Microk8s. Developers and Kubernetes newcomers can install Microk8s on a notebook or desktop and use it for testing, experimentation, or even production use on low-profile hardware.
Canonical and Rancher Labs (see below) co-produce Kubernetes Cloud Native Platform, which pairs Canonical’s Kubernetes distro with Rancher’s container-management platform. The idea is to use Kubernetes to manage the containers running in each cluster, and use Rancher to manage multiple Kubernetes clusters. Cloud Native Platform is available starting with Rancher 2.0.