Rancher Labs Embraces Kubernetes on Behalf of IT Ops

Rancher Labs this week made good on a promise to fully support Kubernetes as part of an effort to make clusters based on the container orchestration platform more accessible to IT operations teams. As part of that effort, Rancher Labs is also making tools available to existing customers who need to move from its Cattle container orchestration engine to Kubernetes.

Company CEO Sheng Liang says Rancher Labs is now applying the framework it developed to make it easier to automate cluster operations and manage the application deployed on them to Kubernetes. While much work has been done to make a single Kubernetes cluster easier to stand up, Liang says version 2.1 makes it easier for IT operations teams to manage entire fleets of Kubernetes clusters.

Those capabilities make it possible for IT operations teams to automate an entire Kubernetes environment without having to develop a custom set of scripts, adds Liang. In effect, it’s now possible for IT operations teams to manage Kubernetes platforms as code. As part of that effort, version 2.1 of Rancher includes a command line interface (CLI) option along with an integrated continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) platform.

Other new capabilities include support for GitLab repositories, support for Helm Charts to manage applications deployed on Kubernetes, a simplified process for admins to quickly cordon off and drain nodes from a managed Kubernetes cluster during maintenance windows, and the ability to set limits on the amount of resources that can be consumed by multiple Kubernetes clusters.

Rancher now also enables IT operations teams to take a snapshot of an environment and export the complete configuration of Kubernetes clusters and then later restore Kubernetes clusters by importing the same configuration file.

Finally, version 2.1 of Rancher also provides support for integration with PingID, Microsoft Active Directory Federation Server, OpenLDAP, Keycloak, FreeIPA and Azure Active Directory.

Despite much of the recent progress made in terms of making Kubernetes more accessible, a platform built by engineers for engineers can be intimidating to the average IT administrator. Shiang says Rancher Labs sees a clear opportunity to become the management construct through which Kubernetes becomes a more viable option within traditional enterprise IT organizations.

It’s obviously still early days when it comes to deployments of Kubernetes clusters in traditional enterprise IT organizations. But in comparison to any other class of emerging technology platforms that have gone before it, the rate of adoption of containers and Kubernetes clusters is arguably unparalleled. The issue most traditional enterprise IT organizations will need to address next is finding IT staff who have enough expertise to manage and deploy applications on Kubernetes. Rancher Labs is betting that while some developers will manage Kubernetes clusters on their own, it’s probable many organizations will rely on IT operations that tend to not have a lot of programming expertise. In those environments, what matters most is finding a method to automate the management of Kubernetes clusters in way that can be easily grasped by the IT operations team.

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.

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