Containers are great; they provide you with an easy way to package and deploy services, allow for process isolation, immutability, efficient resource utilization. They are even lightweight in creation, but when it comes to running containers in production, you can end up with thousands of containers, maybe more than that, and it’s not easy to maintain them. These containers need to be deployed, managed, connected, updated, taken care of gracefully all the time, and that’s where Kubernetes come into the picture to rescue you. Kubernetes is a powerful container management tool that automates the deployment and management of containers. But Kubernetes still lacks many features, and in this article, I will discuss various Kubernetes alternatives which you can use for container orchestration.
The goal of Nomad is to bring the benefits of orchestration to containerized and non-containerized applications. It aims for a great consistent experience for developers and operators across your clouds of choice and on-prem. This kind of balance of simplicity and flexibility is what people who run Nomad really love. You could start in a single region of a single cloud today; tomorrow, you could add another region and federate those two with a few simple commands. Your developers can have a local environment where their orchestration experience is the same as they would have in production, and these are all things that are really hard to do with other orchestrators. The guiding principle here is to orchestrate any application, and this is not limited to the Docker ecosystem, a particular OS, or only to containerized applications. And what this does is allow companies to do incremental application modernization. Teams can avoid the big bang approach where you have a huge overhaul, and you need to tackle every problem at the same time. This means that teams can containerize at their own pace, and it means we really minimize that risk around project failure for application modernization.
Your application modernization project will have complexities, and Nomad can help you minimize the risk of that project. The idea of a consistent experience from a dev environment to a small production environment through to a multi-cloud federated cluster is important, and it’s something that is going to keep your dev teams really happy. There is a simplicity to Nomad that is going to save your business time and eventually money in the long run.
Rancher is open-source; you can self-host them on-prem or in the cloud, and they help you manage containers. Rancher has some relatively mature applications that are built specifically for rancher in Kubernetes like cis scanning for security benchmarks, Istio integration, logging, metrics monitoring, alerting, backups, and even their own distributed block storage system called longhorn.
Rancher product is a complete control plane for Kubernetes clusters in any environment. There are also Kubernetes distributions that rancher the company brought with them into SUSE, namely RKE, RKE2 and K3S. K3S is special because rancher created it and then donated it to the CNCF. Rancher product runs in any Kubernetes cluster, and it can manage the local cluster and also deploy and manage Kubernetes clusters in other environments. You can deploy RKE clusters onto the public or private cloud infrastructure. You can deploy hosted clusters into cloud providers, you can import existing clusters and manage them from within rancher, you can adopt existing EKS clusters and take over their complete life cycle management. When I say lifecycle management, I mean that you can not only deploy and manage workloads, but you can also upgrade and scale the physical cluster itself even if you didn’t deploy it originally from within rancher.
Containers deliver speed and agility for your business but can require a lot of heavy lifting such as running complex container orchestration software, managing and upgrading the orchestration systems having disjointed processes for hybrid environments, not to mention managing cost and security concerns your time and your developers. Time is better spent focusing on projects to help grow your business, and this is how Amazon Elastic Container Service can help. Amazon ECS is fully automated with no control plane to manage, and with ECS anywhere, customers can work with containers in both a cloud and on-premises environments. Combining ECS on AWS Fargate, customers don’t have to manage hosts, no patching, upgrading, or maintenance overhead. ECS delivers security, cost control, and simplicity while removing the burden from your team’s end to innovate faster, reduce overhead, and spend more time deploying projects critical to your business growth.
It provides build pipelines with agility and speed for networking storage and automated scheduling that scale automatically. ECS seamlessly integrates with other AWS services. If you know AWS, you know ECS, and teams can also run containers on compute services such as EC2 using the ECS fully managed control plane. Best of all, there is no additional charge for Amazon ECS, and you only pay for the AWS resources you need to store and run your application.
AWS Fargate basically manages all your management infrastructure and your working nodes. It is elastic and scales up and down seamlessly in the background, something you don’t have to worry about yet again. There is no scaling for you to do, it is really well integrated with the AWS ecosystem. It provides IAM permissions for tasks, elastic load balancer integration with the AWS, VPC networking which is the only networking mode that works in Fargate.
Containers let you package your code so it can run anywhere. Before, you had to provision and manage services, often requiring complex infrastructure to run your containers. With AWS Fargate, you can now run serverless containers. So, you don’t have to manage any servers, Fargate can quickly launch tens of thousands of containers and will seamlessly scale to meet your application’s compute requirements.
Google Kubernetes Engine
Google Kubernetes Engine, also known as GKE, is a cluster manager and orchestration system for running docker containers in the cloud. It is a production-ready environment with guaranteed uptime, load balancing, and it includes container networking features as well. It allows you to create multiple node clusters while also providing Kubernetes features.
Google has built Kubernetes from the ground up based on more than a decade of their experience in managing containers at a large scale inside Google. So, they are offering the same Kubernetes as a service on Google cloud, and that service is called as Google Kubernetes Engine in short GKE. By running Kubernetes on top of Google Cloud, there are many advantages to it. First, Kubernetes automatically creates VM for you, meaning all you need to do is tell GKE about the number of nodes unit inside your cluster and CPU and RAM each node of this cluster contains, and that’s all. So, once you submit the form with details, GKE will automatically create those nodes in the background. Most importantly, it takes care of all Kubernetes cluster configuration such as installing Kubernetes, software operations and joining the worker nodes. This is all done in just a matter of a few minutes, and this is one of the major advantages of using GKE. Next, GKE takes care of managing the Kubernetes master. Typically, you require a couple of Kubernetes master nodes for high availability and load balancing purposes, but if you are using GKE, then you don’t have to worry about how many master nodes are required because GKE takes the responsibility of managing this master node up and running all the time.
Azure Kubernetes Service
Azure Kubernetes Service is the managed Kubernetes cluster in Azure. AKS reduces the complexity and operational overhead of managing Kubernetes by offloading much of that responsibility to Azure as a hosted community service. Azure handles critical tasks like health monitoring and maintenance. Kubernetes masters are managed by Azure that too free of cost. You only manage the agent nodes, and you only pay for the agent nodes.
It also gives a great feature that is integration with Azure AD. AKS lets you integrate with Azure AD, and you can use Kubernetes role-based access controls, which is a great security feature. The azure monitor will help you gather all the logs of all health-related information, or it collects information from the container regarding memory and processor metrics from nodes and controllers. This monitoring data can be diverted or put in the azure log analytics workspace that you can analyze later on. So your monitoring can be integrated with AKS to get the information on the logs and on the health alerting system.
RedHat has created a platform as a service over the Kubernetes deployment called RedHat OpenShift. OpenShift is a Kubernetes platform for deploying your applications. You don’t have to learn Kubernetes completely, and you don’t have to bother about knowing the nuances of the Kubernetes environment because RedHat solves those problems by abstracting out the complete container orchestration beneath the platform. You can still deploy docker containers inside OpenShift, but you don’t have to handcraft each and everything inside the Kubernetes cluster imagine. OpenShift is a fully managed platform as a service where you will be deploying containers.
So those are some best Kubernetes alternatives available for you to use. If you have been using Kubernetes, you know how difficult it is to learn Kubernetes, and then the hard part is deploying docker containers inside Kubernetes. It is comparatively challenging because the learning curve is huge when you want to deploy an application in a Kubernetes cluster. The alternative solutions mentioned in this article will help ease a lot of things, so go ahead and get started with any of these Kubernetes alternatives.