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ICYMI: Kubernetes ecosystem updates IT teams should know

Need to catch up on some recent developments within the Kubernetes vendor and tool ecosystem? This roundup of articles can help.

Container technology represents one of the fastest-moving segments in the IT market today. This holds true, especially, of Kubernetes, as the list of vendors, tools and services associated with the open source container orchestrator rapidly -- and perpetually -- expands.

If IT teams don't keep a close watch on the latest Kubernetes tools and trends, they could easily overlook updates that might otherwise benefit or optimize an existing container deployment.

So, in case you missed them, here's a roundup of some recent and significant Kubernetes ecosystem updates, reported over the past several months by TechTarget senior news writer Beth Pariseau. While these updates touch on different themes -- from service mesh to Windows support -- nearly all underscore the growing prominence of the container orchestration tool.

Kubernetes security market takes off

Security challenges are nothing new to Kubernetes users -- but, on the bright side, IT teams now have an ever-growing pool of services and tools to address them.

The Kubernetes ecosystem, as it pertains to security, continues to evolve. Many recent developments -- which come largely in the form of new tools or startups -- aim to meet enterprise demand for both a centralized way to secure Kubernetes deployments as a whole, as well as for services that enforce security at the more granular application or container layer.

Some Kubernetes security tools to emerge recently include Octarine, software that runs on the Envoy service mesh to provide visibility into Kubernetes and container infrastructure, and detect potential threats; NeuVector's policy-as-code tool, which lets DevOps teams use Kubernetes Custom Resource Definitions (CRDs) to automate and manage container security throughout CI/CD pipelines; and Fairwinds Insights, a dashboarding tool from managed Kubernetes vendor Fairwinds that displays security monitoring and IT performance data.

Istio, Linkerd battle it out

Istio and Linkerd are both service mesh technologies aimed at Kubernetes deployments. Naturally, there are lot of comparisons between the two, but their ongoing game of leapfrog, in terms of feature set, makes it tough to declare a winner.

Istio does, however, appear to have an edge in the race for service mesh dominance. This is due, at least in part, to the technology's early and close ties to Kubernetes; Istio, for example, was the first service mesh to offer certain features for Kubernetes deployments, including distributed tracing and mutual transport layer security (mTLS).

That said, Linkerd, as of version 2.3, released in April 2019, offers its own stable mTLS feature. The service mesh also now supports distributed tracing via Jaeger, as of version 2.6, released in November.

As the two technologies progress, Kubernetes users should keep a close eye on the Linkerd vs. Istio battle.

Mirantis scoops up Docker Enterprise

In November 2019, a major acquisition in the container market brought some long-awaited clarity to the future direction of Docker Inc.

Mirantis, a Kubernetes-as-a-service provider, acquired the Docker Enterprise business, including both the Docker Enterprise container platform technology, as well as the Docker Inc. team that supported it. Mirantis said it plans to combine Docker Enterprise with its own Kubernetes offerings, which target hybrid cloud container deployments.

The deal marked the likely end of Swarm, Docker's container scheduling and orchestration tool. Mirantis at the time said it will continue to support Swarm for at least two years, but that it will emphasize Kubernetes as its primary container orchestrator. In a blog post, Mirantis CEO Adrian Ionel said the company will also explore ways to simplify the transition process for Docker Swarm customers as they eventually move to Kubernetes.

Crave more Kubernetes updates?

Of course, the five articles listed in this roundup aren't the only major Kubernetes ecosystem updates to occur recently -- in fact, far from it. IT teams might also want to brush up on the Kubernetes bug bounty program; the death of Helm Tiller; and the concept of Kubernetes multi-tenancy.

Kubernetes vendors warm up to Windows

The Kubernetes ecosystem opened its doors to a broader range of legacy applications when two vendors in October 2019 rolled out support for the container orchestration tool on Windows nodes.

Rancher, with its 2.3 release, and Amazon, via an update to its Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), both introduced the capability to deploy Windows Server apps, alongside Linux apps, on Kubernetes. The updates followed a March 2019 release of production-level support for Windows nodes in Kubernetes version 1.14.

Other Kubernetes vendors have plans to follow suit; support for Windows nodes is currently in preview, for example, on Azure Kubernetes Service, and in beta on VMware PKS.

As more Kubernetes vendors extend their reach into Windows, enterprises will face an opportunity to modernize more of their traditional enterprise apps via containers.

Mesosphere embraces Kubernetes in rebranding effort

In a move that spoke to the container market's continued convergence around Kubernetes, Mesosphere underwent a transformation in August.

The company rebranded as D2iQ and expanded its product portfolio to include two new offerings -- Ksphere and Datasphere -- both focused on Kubernetes. Ksphere combines Konvoy, the company's enterprise Kubernetes distribution, with another project called Kommander, which provides configuration and lifecycle management capabilities for multi-cluster Kubernetes deployments. An add-on to Ksphere, Datasphere supports data-intensive applications, such as Apache Kafka and Spark.

As part of the rebranding, D2iQ further expanded its role within the Kubernetes ecosystem, with a certification from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation to become a training provider for the container orchestrator.

Despite the new emphasis on Kubernetes, D2iQ did say it will continue to support Marathon and DC/OS.

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