June 24, 2017

At the CloudNativeCon + Kubecon Europe 2017 conference this week, Kubernetes 1.6 update was released. This latest version can span 5,000 nodes and hardens many of the features enterprise IT organizations require.

Dan Gillespie, release manager for Kubernetes 1.6 and a software engineer for CoreOS, says beyond standardizing on the Container Runtime Interface as the default runtime for containers, most of the elements of Kubernetes 1.6 previously existed. However, to make Kubernetes more robust, all of them have been substantially enhanced, including a Kubernetes Federation capability that makes it possible to manage multiple Kubernetes clusters logically.

Other enhancements include the ability to update an existing DaemonSet with a new image, support for multiple schedulers that provide granular control over individual pods that make up a cluster, tools to abstract storage systems, integration with domain name server (DNS) and a beta release of role-based access and authentication controls.

In general, Gillespie says, much of the focus going forward will be on optimizing the performance of Kubernetes rather than adding new features. In fact, from a technical perspective, container orchestration engines all employ application programming interfaces (APIs) to reduce the complexity of the underlying operating system. The only real difference between them will be the level of scale and performance that can be achieved, he says: With Kubernetes 1.6, the number of nodes it can support has increased by 150 percent.

Gillespie notes that the team working on Kubernetes is also in the early stages of creating an instance of Kubernetes for Windows with an eye toward making it possible to federate the management of both Linux and Windows clusters using Kubernetes. Each type of cluster would have to run its own containers, but it should be possible to unify the management of both types of clusters using Kubernetes, he says.

Most Kubernetes use today, like containers, is on a public cloud. But as storage and networking services embedded within Kubernetes continue to evolve alongside the tools needed to manage those clusters, it’s only a matter of time before Kubernetes shows up more in on-premises IT environments. The degree to which Kubernetes will supplant existing management frameworks that have their roots in virtual machine software remains to be seen, but as more containers are deployed on bare-metal servers, there will be more reliance on container orchestration engines such as Kubernetes.

In terms of broad industry support Kubernetes clear has a leg-up on rival container orchestration engines. Gillespie notes that Kubernetes is also becoming easier to set up, thanks to a variety of third-party installers. Nevertheless, the number of IT professionals with Kubernetes expertise remains limited. To address that issue, the Kubernetes community has launched a K8sPort initiative, which presents IT professionals with a series of Kubernetes challenges to overcome. In fact, given the relative stability of Kubernetes, it’s apparent that the next major focal point for the Kubernetes community will be training and certifications rather than core engineering.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.