​Canonical makes Kubernetes moves

Canonical wants to make it darn clear that, besides being the leading cloud Linux distributor, it's also a major Kubernetes player.

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When last I spoke to Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical's founder, in Berlin, he told me that -- when it comes to Kubernetes -- enterprise "Kubernetes runs on Ubuntu." Kubernetes, the most popular cloud container orchestration program, "makes life easier for people who want portability across public clouds. With multiple Kubernetes clusters you have one common way to run workloads on Linux over both private and public clouds."

Also: Mark Shuttleworth is not selling Canonical or Ubuntu -- yet

Of course, these days, it's hard to find an enterprise technology company that isn't pushing its Kubernetes credentials. Besides IBM/Red Hat, the acquisition made because of Kubernetes, Cisco, HPE, Microsoft, and Oracle, to name a few, are all adding Kubernetes to their software portfolios. Canonical, however, has been deploying Kubernetes almost since Google first rolled Kubernetes out the door in 2014.

Canonical isn't resting on its laurels. Before KubeCon North America, the company made several Kubernetes announcements.

First, Canonical released MicroK8s. This is an easy-to-install Snap Kubernetes version 1.13 distribution. Microk8s can be installed on Ubuntu and over 40 other Linux distros from laptops to servers to clouds. You can install it from the Snap Store with the shell command:

$ sudo snap install microk8s --classic

That's all there is to it. There's a reason why Snaps, and its rival Flatpacks, have become popular new ways to install Linux programs

Micok8s is full-featured Kubernetes. It includes automatic updates and well-defined security capabilities. Microk8s also includes Canonical open-source add-on services such as a container registry, storage pass-through, and native GPGPU enablement for hardware acceleration and machine learning workflows.

For enterprise users, Canonical announced commercial support, Ubuntu Advantage, for Kubernetes clusters deployed using kubeadm. Kubeadm can be used to deploy production Kubernetes with DevOps provisioning systems such as Ansible or Terraform.

Unlike the simple-to-use Microk8s, kubeadm gives you a fine-grained view and control of Kubernetes' low-level mechanics. Or, in car terms, Microk8s is a Ford Econoline van with automatic transmission, while kubeadm is a Ferrari California with a manual gearbox.

Kubeadm complements Canonical's support for Charmed Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK). CDK is a multi-cloud upstream Kubernetes distribution, which is fully automated with built-in operational patterns.


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Canonical also announced that it too is joining the move to ARM processors. Canonical's Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) is now commercially available and supported on systems based on the 64-bit Arm v8-A architecture. Historically, Red Hat has been the leading open-source ARM enterprise server company.

Finally, Canonical announced Kubernetes partnerships with Dell/EMC and SuperMicro.

Put it all together, and you can see Canonical is serious about keeping a leading role in enterprise Kubernetes deployments. With so many other companies flocking to this new IT model, I'm reminded of the early days of the cloud. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

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