Rancher Labs originally developed Cattle as an orchestration engine specifically optimized for Docker containers. Now, with its technical preview of the Rancher 2.0 management framework unveiled this week, the company is signaling it will support the Kubernetes container orchestration engine developed by Google and overseen by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
Shannon Williams, vice president of Rancher Labs, says the company will now apply all the management tools and utilities it developed for Cattle to Kubernetes. The goal is make Kubernetes more accessible to Docker developers via command lines and Docker Compose tools that are more familiar than the YAML files used to manage Kubernetes clusters today.
Rancher Catalog has been extended to support Docker Compose, Kubernetes templates and Helm charts to give users access to more containerized applications. In addition, Rancher 2.0 provides centralized management of user authentication, monitoring and health checks via a role-based access control (RBAC) capability.
Williams says Rancher is already being used to manage more than 10,000 container clusters, some of which are already based on Kubernetes. In total, the Rancher framework developed on top of Cattle has been downloaded 60 million times, Williams says, adding it now makes sense to leverage Kubernetes as well, given the level of ongoing investments being made by every major software vendor in the enterprise.
At this juncture, rival container orchestration engines will have a hard time keeping pace with the pace of updates from companies that now treat Kubernetes as shared research and development. In effect, the IT vendor community has acknowledged there is not much differentiation at the container orchestration level.
While Kubernetes enjoys broad industry support, deployment and adoption of Kubernetes in the enterprise been hampered by complexity. The Kubernetes community has made it considerably easier to stand up a Kubernetes cluster. But ongoing management of Kubernetes remains a challenge. Developers working within a DevOps environment will prefer to manage Kubernetes in a construct that is more familiar to builders of containerized applications based on Docker technologies. Williams notes that in DevOps environments, it’s not uncommon for developers to be in charge of the entire end-to-end IT management process. The Rancher approach should make it easier for developers who have mastered Docker to learn Kubernetes, says Williams.
The good news for IT organizations is that considerable training resources are now being poured into Kubernetes, which should make it easier to hire and retain IT professionals who have Kubernetes expertise. Not every enterprise IT organization has embraced the idea that developers should manage the entire IT environment. In those environments, the expectation is there will still be dedicated IT administrators.
But while there may still be some debate over who will manage Kubernetes at what level, Kubernetes is without a doubt emerging as a de facto container orchestration standard.