Five Kubernetes alternatives

Something Else

Rancher

Rancher is not an alternative to Kubernetes [6] because it contains a complete Kubernetes distribution. According to the manufacturer, however, the product (Figure 5) expands Kubernetes at three important points: It is designed to enable efficient and easy control of different Kubernetes installations on different platforms, it adds a management component for controlling the workload of applications, and it provides enterprise support for Kubernetes.

Figure 5: Rancher is a superstructure for Kubernetes that offers various features, such as a comprehensive management layer.

The management layer contains a central control plan from which several Kubernetes clusters can be managed after the admin has rolled them out directly with Rancher. Rancher starts complete Kubernetes instances in various public clouds (e.g., AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform) at the click of a mouse.

Because Rancher also has its own rights management, user management can be reliably and consistently implemented across all Kubernetes instances. Additionally, various management functions exist for monitoring, alerting, and trending (MAT) of various Kubernetes clusters.

Application management enables users to roll out their micro-architecture applications centrally from Rancher to different clusters, and admins can create user projects that include different namespaces within the Kubernetes clusters. The package also includes comprehensive continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines, enabling the development of Rancher-based applications.

Support is almost self-explanatory: Rancher itself is open source, but the manufacturer offers commercial support for the solution. As is more or less usual nowadays, you cannot find prices on the Rancher website; you have to contact the software manufacturer.

Rancher provides more details about the scope of support: 24/7 support is available, and if you need help with cluster setup, you can get it on request. Companies thinking about introducing Kubernetes should at least get to know Rancher – especially if the goal is to have many small Kubernetes-based setups spread across multiple locations or platforms.

Azk

The last candidate in this overview is Azk. Unlike the tools presented so far, it is aimed exclusively at developers. Azk does not seek to turn the big container wheel; instead, it looks to allow developers to create a container-based working development environment in the shortest possible time using local resources. As strange as this sounds, in many companies, admins operate huge Kubernetes platforms just to give in-house developers a working development platform. In these cases, Azk is a very welcome alternative [7].

Azk works in a very simple way: In a template file with JavaScript syntax, a developer defines the desired environment. Under the hood, the program uses Docker, but on its website [8], Azk offers a large number of preconfigured Docker images aimed in particular at developers of web applications. The developer then references the images in azkfile.js. All parameters required for the operation of the containers are also specified in the file.

At the end of the day, you just call Azk with the appropriate template; after the program has finished its work, the development environment is ready. If you need the same environment again some time later, you simply call Azk again and reach your destination in a very short time.

Achieve Your Aims Quickly

Azk's functionality is not comparable to that of the large container orchestrators, but that's exactly what its developers wanted to avoid. Instead, Azk is firmly rooted in development. Once you have familiarized yourself with the syntax of the azkfile.js manifest file, you will quickly see results without running a complete and huge Kubernetes cluster with all its components.

The Author

Martin Gerhard Loschwitz is a Telekom Public Cloud Architect for T-Systems and primarily works on topics such as OpenStack, Ceph, and Kubernetes.

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