Managing Multi-Cloud, Multi-Distro Kubernetes Cluster Deployments


As enterprises ramp up their adoption of modern architectures that embrace microservices, containers and Kubernetes, application deployment strategies are being re-evaluated. Organizations operating and serving customers globally or regionally need to think about how best to make their applications available, responsive and high-performing no matter where the end user (or end device) lives.

But in an environment where enterprises operate both on-premises and in the cloud (and perhaps multiple clouds), operating Kubernetes clusters across multiple environments brings about a new set of deployment challenges. Consider the following:

A cloud gaming company develops and operates an interactive online service for customers in Asia. One cloud provider is selected with multiple regions across Asia and the provider’s managed Kubernetes service is being leveraged. Multiple Kubernetes clusters actually run in several regions to best serve its end users.

The company decides to expand its operations to Europe. The company’s IT operations team needs to evaluate European cloud providers since their Asian cloud provider doesn’t serve Europe. To complicate matters, certain European countries have geo-specific privacy and compliance laws that mandate the company store customer data in the country of residence. The company now finds itself needing several different public cloud providers. Because each cloud provider tends to offer a homegrown managed Kubernetes service, the company has to unify and simplify its Kubernetes deployment strategy to deal with multiple clouds and multiple distributions.

The company’s expansion to Europe is paying off and it has decided to acquire a rival gaming company. The acquired company operates its gaming platform in four data centers around the world and also leverages several different public cloud providers. The acquired company has decided to spin up upstream Kubernetes in all locations and has invested in an internal platform to manage and operate Kubernetes everywhere. How will the merged company manage and operate Kubernetes across clouds and data centers, including multiple Kubernetes distributions, going forward?

Challenges of Managing Diverse Clusters, Environments
Kubernetes cluster management is complex for a single cluster. Extended to multiple clusters and multiple distros, effective management may be unattainable for all but the most sophisticated SRE/Ops teams with deep expertise. To unify management and operations across clouds and distro, a Kubernetes management platform is required that should provide:

Complete visibility and governance across a company’s fleet of Kubernetes clusters, regardless of distribution. The IT or SRE/Ops team must be able to quickly figure out where a given service is running at present, which app is experiencing restarts in a given cluster, which apps have been upgraded across the fleet in the last month and much more.
On-demand cluster bring-up and customization in any cloud environment or on-premises. In addition to simply bringing up Kubernetes, SRE/Ops teams are responsible for ensuring that a given cluster is customized appropriately and conforms to the business’ security/compliance requirements and can be easily upgraded as needed.
Continuous deployment capabilities are required across the entire cluster fleet without requiring multiple deployment tools. SRE/Ops teams need access to deployment tools that work across any cluster type, in any environment, and do not require scripting/coding investments that traditionally fall on DevOps teams.
While it is possible to internally build a platform that provides these functions, this effort requires stitching together dozens of open source tools. It also requires hiring and training hard-to-find people to build and debug the platform, and then ongoing maintenance and upgrades as clusters morph and expand. The process can take multiple quarters and require an ongoing investment in people, resources and infrastructure. Still, many companies initially go down this road, only to get mired in the complexity after several months of effort.

Turnkey Solutions for Kubernetes
Is there an easier, faster and more cost-effective way? Turnkey management platforms are emerging as viable alternatives to building in-house Kubernetes platforms. These platforms can be implemented quickly and bring up enterprise-grade, production-ready clusters in minutes. Beyond saving time and resources, these platforms provide:

Global, cross-cloud, single-pane-of-glass management for centralized provisioning, monitoring and problem resolution.
Cluster blueprinting/templating enables enterprises to seamlessly add their own customized clusterwide services to create a reusable blueprint for easy replication in multiple environments.
Out-of-the-box enterprise tntegrations for registry, logging, monitoring, security, etc., to reduce development and ongoing maintenance costs.
Containerized application lifecycle management to automate and simplify the deployment, scaling, upgrading and operation of applications across multi-region, multi-cloud and hybrid environments.
When compared with roll-your-own solutions, turnkey Kubernetes management platforms are less expensive to implement, far faster to deploy and require much lower administrative costs. So when thinking about how to manage a growing collection of multi-cloud, multi-distribution clusters, DevOps and SRE/Ops teams should take a look at these platforms as an alternative to the pain of building and maintaining one on their own.


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