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Sep 29 2016

Canonical Releases “Enterprise-Ready” Kubernetes

British software makers Canonical, developers of the popular Ubuntu distribution of Linux, have decided to launch their own version of Kubernetes, the open source container cluster manager originally developed by Google.

When people mention containers today, they're not necessarily talking about shipping or logistics. Software developers and IT admins in particular will rather be referring to software containers or "virtualization engines," a comparatively young class of tools that bundle an application with a complete filesystem that includes the code, runtime, system tools, and system libraries required to start the program. That way, it will always behave in the same way, regardless of the infrastructure it's running on. The goal was to simplify and speed up software deployment, especially in centralized, large-scale server environments.

First introduced in the 1980s, the concept had been around for a good while when it began to gain popularity as cloud computing evolved over the past decade, e.g. in the form of Docker. As more people started to use containers, the need for orchestration and management tools arose. Among the most popular of these tools is Kubernetes, or k8s for short, which is used by various 'big names' in the tech, media and financial industries as well as the public sector, among them Box, Goldman Sachs, SAP, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the UK Home Office. Initially developed at Google and open-sourced in 2015, k8s now enjoys wide industry support from companies like Cisco, Intel, Red Hat, and VMware. A particularly dedicated supporter is Ubuntu vendor Canonical, which has now launched its own Kubernetes distribution (in cooperation with Google).

Contrary to what one might expect, the Canonical developers have not added to or altered the code too much, but instead relies on a "perfectly standard Kubernetes experience," explains the official press release from earlier this week. The standard platform is beefed up with "extensive operational and support tooling" and intended to serve as an "open and extensible platform" for enterprise customers and third-party software vendors. Their developers can connect to the standard k8s API across public, hybrid and private clouds, for instance to bring new applications to company workgroups. Another advantage is that users can run and scale their 'Ubuntu Kubernetes' on demand. The required elasticity results from the combination with Charms, the central management mechanism in Ubuntu's Juju suite. Furthermore, the new distro includes/supports Prometheus for monitoring, Ceph for storage, and Elasticsearch/Kibana for data analytics and visualization. Enterprise support will be available under the terms and conditions of the Ubuntu Advantage program and includes offerings for standalone Kubernetes deployments and combinations with Canonical's edition of OpenStack as well as fully managed packages.

Canonical's Kubernetes is now in public beta state and will be released in the upcoming weeks alongside version 2.0 of Juju.


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