A Roundup of Managed Kubernetes Platforms

DevOps

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In the race of container orchestrators, Kubernetes is surging ahead. But much like when I wrote my post on Docker hosting, people are often stuck on the step of getting their infrastructure to production. Unlike when I first wrote that, the industry has progressed massively, and as you will see, I found a lot of companies willing to offer you solutions for helping you get Kubernetes into production.

My criteria for inclusion in this article was companies that let me try their service easily. I excluded anyone with a ‘contact us for a trial’ or ‘contact us for more information’ button, and I wanted to see what they offered myself.

To reduce repetition, pretty much every provider offers all the base features Kubernetes offers, plus constant updates.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

I would hazard a guess that GCP was never that high on people’s list for a cloud provider until Google released Kubernetes. It’s reasonable that the best-managed option would originate from the company behind the birth of the project.

The GCP Kubernetes engine offers similar integration with other GCP products, much like many of the other large cloud providers in this article. In GCP’s case, this includes:

  • Authentication and access rights
  • Logging and monitoring
  • Hybrid networking
  • A custom container-optimized OS
  • Private image repositories and image builder

AKS (Azure)

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft’s Azure Container Service (curiously called ‘AKS’) is in public preview, so it’s not recommended you use it in production, but it should be good enough to evaluate. It supports:

  • Multiple Kubernetes versions
  • Switching between Docker, DC/OS, and Kubernetes orchestration at will; the crucial factor is running containers
  • Integration with the Azure container registry, container monitoring solution
  • Access to all the Kubernetes APIs and toolchain via the az CLI tool or the Azure portal

Stackpoint

Stackpoint

Stackpoint helps you install and manage a Kubernetes cluster hosted with AWS, GCE, Azure, and Digital Ocean. The setup process is quick and straightforward, and Stackpoint has a library of preconfigured images straight to your cluster during the setup phase, and from a graphical interface once the cluster is running.

Stackpoint provides their own GUI to access high-level details and links to the default Kubernetes GUI and kubectl tool for everything else.

Stackpoint dashboards

AppsCode

I’m sneaking AppsCode into this list — while their cluster management solution lies behind a Request a Demo button, they also have a suite of open-source tools available for all sorts of Kubernetes-related tasks. And stringing some of them together, you can probably create similar solutions.

Appscode offerings

Openshift

Red Hat’s OpenShift is one of the more veteran and comprehensive Kubernetes solutions, with a lot of development and community work from Red Hat thrown in for good measure. It’s a standalone Kubernetes distribution, adding dozens of developer- and ops-related tools to make using Kubernetes more productive.

OpenShift comes in four varieties, and the names and differences are a little confusing, so hold on there:

Confused? Well, don’t worry too much about what version is right for you. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the features OpenShift brings to Kubernetes:

  • Custom domain routing and software-defined network; an image library of prepackaged applications to install onto your cluster, checked and tested by Red Hat
  • Integration with other Red Hat platforms such as JBoss and RHEL
  • “Code and push” deployments from version control straight to running on a cluster
  • Multiple environments and release management
  • A GUI to access most functionality, a CLI tool, and integration with some (enterprise friendly IDEs)

IBM Cloud Container Service

IBM Cloud’s Kubernetes offering is a simple affair, perfect for anyone looking for bare-bones Kubernetes cluster. You can access and manage your cluster through the default Kubernetes CLI and the IBM cloud CLI (for authentication and other IBM-specific tasks) and a basic GUI.

IBM Cloud

Much like some of the other cloud offerings in this list, using the IBM Cloud Container Service gives you easy integration with their other services, and in IBM’s case, the most tempting of these is the infamous Watson.

Ubuntu

Canonical offers an Ubuntu-optimized version of Kubernetes for simple deployment to AWS. It doesn’t add much to default Kubernetes beyond a simplified semi-graphical installation interface, but if you’re an existing user of the Ubuntu ecosystem, then you might find it a comfortable fit.

Containership

Containership

I had featured Containership before in my Docker hosting roundup, when they were using a custom orchestrator, and they have also added support for Kubernetes. It works similarly to some of the other providers on this list, helping you create and manage multi-cloud infrastructures. However, it offers other providers not found on many others in this list such as Digital Ocean, Packet, and Linode.

In addition to creation and management, Containership offers access to private image repositories, snapshotting your cluster and a preconfigured library of services to install to your cluster (again including lesser known options).

GoPaddle

GoPaddle dashboard

Taking a different but potentially confusing approach to managing your Kubernetes cluster, GoPaddle uses a visual UML-style service designer that you then push to a provider. I don’t know how useful it is, but after reviewing so many dashboards and lists for this article, it was a refreshing change.

Beyond this, GoPaddle offers the features you will find in many of the other services listed here, including authentication, logging, continuous integration, and with one additional bonus, support for Terraform templates.

Nirmata

Nirmata offers the option to connect preexisting Kubernetes clusters, or have the platform set up a vanilla one for you. You can deploy your cluster to a variety of public and private clouds.

It offers the typical authentication, logging and prepackaged images of many of the other options in this article, plus GUI-accessible resource policies and a simple dashboard view of cluster state(s).

Kubermatic

Kubermatic dashboard

Kubermatic offers deployment to AWS and Digital Ocean, with an easy-to-use GUI for creating and managing clusters with logging and metrics built in. Their core software is also open source, and they are one of the few European companies on this list 🇪🇺.

Joyent Triton

Joyent is one of a handful of the smaller companies steadily and successfully running cloud-native deployments for the past few years, so adding a Kubernetes offering is an obvious move. Similar to GoPaddle, Triton uses Terraform templates under the hood that you can change to suit your needs.

Triton lets you install a cluster to their own public or private cloud, as well as GCP, AWS, VMWare, Azure, and your servers. The installation process is one of the more complicated on this list but leverages a lot of familiar DevOps tools, so may suit some of your existing workflows better.

Tectonic

Tectonic from CoreOS takes a similar approach to Triton, using Teraform templates to deploy their take on Kubernetes to bare metal machines, AWS, or Azure. Naturally Tectonic runs CoreOS with all the benefits to Kubernetes and container-based applications that involves.

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Chinese Clouds

I also came across a handful of large Chinese companies that had Kubernetes-based offerings that I couldn’t effectively test as I don’t speak any Chinese languages (I do hope to change that in 2018). While they often offer English language versions, typically once you were a few levels deep, the Chinese origins showed and I was confused. If you’re interested, here are the ones I found:

In Early Access

I came across a handful of services that weren’t ready yet, but by the time you read this, they might be.

Pivotal Container Service

At the time of writing, Pivotal Container Service was not yet publicly available, but if you are entrenched in the Pivotal/VMWare ecosystem, then it might be ready for you when you are.

Oracle Wercker

Wercker has two new services called Deploy and Operate planned that are for, you guessed it, deploying and operating Kubernetes clusters.

Amazon EKS

AWS is top of many developers’ lists when it comes to hosting, and they typically offer a solution for every need you might have. Their Kubernetes offering is in an invite-only preview, so it’s hard to provide a comprehensive review. From what I can tell, it will offer features such as:

  • Integration with the other myriad tools of AWS for load balancing, authentication, availability zones, service isolation, private network access, and logging
  • Automatic updates, patching
  • Access to the kubectl CLI

There Will Be More

And that’s it for now! I’m sure there are some I missed, so keep your suggestions coming in the comments.

PS: If you’re interested in learning more about Kubernetes you might be interested in this Codeship eBook: CD for Docker Apps to Kubernetes.

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Join the Discussion

Leave us some comments on what you think about this topic or if you like to add something.

  • Jiří Doubek

    Rancher is missing.

    • Chris Ward

      I had Rancher on the list, but for some reason I didn’t add it, yes :(

      • Thomas Hansen

        I would also strongly recommend looking at Rancher and the big release 2.0 which is in tech Preview at the moment. They are doing some very cool things to make it easy to setup and manager things with Kubernetes underneath.

        In fact I would love to see Codefresh and Rancher integrated some time in the near future.

        • Chris Ward

          Will do on a refresh of the article!

  • The Azure bit is not entirely correct.

    ACS is not in preview. ACS as in Acure Container Service leverages Azure Container Engine to manage the deployments of either Docker Swarm, Kubernetes or Mesosphere clusters. It’s a glorified templating engine, open-sourced, written in Golang and available on Github.

    AKS is a service in preview and offers fully managed Kubernetes clusters, including upgrades from one version to the other.

    • Chris Ward

      Hmm, I thought that’s kind of what I said 🤔.

      I’ll try and get it clarified.

  • Udi

    It does *way* more than just spin up a cluster with a nice UI, but Cloud 66 Maestro belongs here — https://cloud66.com/containers/maestro

  • Brendan Fosberry

    Would love to see Supergiant and Platform9 on here also

    • Chris Ward

      I’ve not heard of Supergiant. Platform 9 nearly made it on, but I couldn’t try the platform without contacting sales (see intro), apart from a demo site that never worked when I tried it on multiple occasions.

      • Madhura Maskasky

        Chris, sorry to hear that your trial experience with Platform9 was subpar. We pride ourselves in delivering the best customer experience regardless of whether you are testing the platform or using it for production. I’d be happy to extend a trial or see why your sandbox/demo environment did not work.

  • shahidhk

    Check out Hasura (https://hasura.io/), a CNCF certified Kubernetes platform with git push to deploy features. Free trials available on the site.

    Disclaimer: I work at Hasura

    • Chris Ward

      Damn, that did not come up in search at all… SEO to be done and will add it future revisions.

  • Dmytro Dyachuk

    You might have consider adding to list Operos by Pax Automa. paxautoma.com/operos/. It is effectively kuberntes, its essential supporting components: storage by ceph, networking by calico, and monitoring for bare-metal setups. Recently it was made open source https://github.com/PaxAutoma/operos.