Kubernetes is a popular container orchestration platform used by many professionals for software development, administration, and security. Containerisation is especially popular for cloud-native applications, and environments that require continual updates. However, Kubernetes management can be complex, especially for enterprise-level operations. 

In this article, you will learn about managed Kubernetes, including definitions, features, and top solutions. 

What Is Kubernetes as a Service (KaaS)?

KaaS is a third-party, managed Kubernetes (k8s) offering designed to make implementing k8s easier. With KaaS, you get access to all of the benefits of k8s but your vendor manages some or all of the configuration, deployment, and maintenance. Some vendors also provide hosting for deployments. 

These services enable organisations that do not have the expertise or willingness to manage k8s on their own to smoothly orchestrate container deployments. KaaS provides the same scalability, self-healing, and workload management settings with the addition of personalised support and often pre-built template configurations.

Why Use a Managed Kubernetes Service?

While it may be tempting to deploy Kubernetes on your own, this can be a daunting process if you do not have in-house expertise or dedicated staff. Kubernetes is notoriously complex to set up and maintain, presenting a barrier to many organisations. KaaS can provide a solution to these issues. 

Move Your Business Forward

Kubernetes isn’t a magic bullet but it can help you deploy applications and services faster than your existing methods. It can also help you ensure better availability than traditionally deployed services. Using a managed service, you can achieve these benefits without added burden on your developers or operations teams. 

After your vendor has deployed, teams can begin immediately using k8s managed containers with minimal effort. Since KaaS typically includes monitoring and service level agreements, you can be sure that your deployments are secure and remain operational. This is ideal for smaller organisations that may not have the staff or time needed to manage k8s on their own. 

Simplify Open-Source

Open-source can be great. It enables flexibility and cost savings that proprietary solutions can’t match. However, it also requires much more effort on the organisations part to operate and maintain. These solutions also do not come with the dedicated support that enterprise software does. 

KaaS vendors can provide this lacking support and can often help you integrate other open-source tools you may be using. For example, Jenkins or other continuous integration / continuous deployment tools. Additionally, vendors often offer additional tooling to simplify monitoring and reporting functions. These services can help you customise the open-source framework of k8s to more closely meet your needs. 

Features to Look for in a Managed Kubernetes Platform

If you’ve decided that a managed platform is the right choice for you, you have several options to choose from. However, not all are equally suited to your needs. When choosing a vendor, you should ensure that they provide the configurations and services that best suit your requirements. To do this, make sure to look for the following features and traits:

  • Includes pre-configured environments
  • Cloud agnostic and supports hybrid environments
  • Integrates with existing services
  • Includes built-in authentication and access controls
  • Supports automation and load-balancing
  • Easy to use and customisable interface

Top Managed Kubernetes Platforms

Once you understand what features to look for, you can begin considering your options. Below you can find information on the top KaaS providers. 

Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)

GKE is one of the most well-developed platforms, integrating seamlessly with Kubernetes. This makes sense since k8s was developed by a Google team. This service was designed for use on the Google Cloud Platform but you can also use it with hybrid environments. 

GKE provides features for self-healing, IP range reservation, private container registries, management of master nodes, and integrated logging and monitoring with StackDriver. It also provides automatic updating and auto-scaling. 

AWS Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS)

EKS is an extension of AWS’s Elastic Container Service (ECS) that is optimised for k8s. It runs on EC2 instances and can be used across availability zones. EKS includes features for updates on demand, built-in security, and access controls. 

You can integrate EKS with CloudTrail and CloudWatch services for logging and auditing purposes. Currently, it is only available for use with AWS resources and does not support hybrid configurations.

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

AKS is the managed service offered by Azure. With AKS, you can deploy k8s to Azure instances, or hybrid environments via Azure Stack. It includes features for traffic management, built-in security, automatic upgrades, and batch automation. You can manage your deployment via command line, web console, or through integration with Terraform. 

Platform9

Platform9 is a cloud-agnostic, third-party managed service. You can use it with any cloud platform, on-premises, or on VMware. It offers automatic upgrades and pre-configured environments for fast deployment. With Platform9, you can manage your deployment from a web interface. 

IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service

IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service is a certified k8s service, hosted on the IBM cloud. It integrates with more than 170 existing IBM cloud services. This service includes features supporting the deployment of IoT, blockchain, machine learning, and analytics applications. 

OpenShift

OpenShift is an open-source, cloud-agnostic platform that is available in free and paid formats. You can use it in a public cloud via pre-configured container templates, as a managed, private cluster in a public cloud, or as a Platform as a Service in a private cloud. It includes features for built-in monitoring, security, and custom domain routing. It also comes with a library of prepackaged applications. You can manage OpenShift via console or command line. 

Conclusion

KaaS can help you delegate Kubernetes management responsibilities to experts in the field. KaaS is offered by leading technology companies, such as Google, AWS, Azure, Platform9, IBM, and OpenShift. When choosing a KaaS service provider, look for the features that serve your business best.