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Consider VMware PKS alternatives

Organizations looking to get started with Kubernetes might begin by considering VMware's Pivotal Container Service, but companies that don't use vSphere must find another option.

VMware PKS is a natural starting point for deploying Kubernetes in the enterprise, but if you need a system independent...

of your vSphere stack, there is a wide range of options to choose from.

Kubernetes is a robust ecosystem for building cloud-native applications. VMware Pivotal Container Service (PKS) packages Kubernetes with a self-service portal to simplify deployment and management.

PKS is designed to integrate with VMware infrastructure products. An advantage of VMware PKS over some of the competing products is its integration with vSphere services such as DRS. But, there's no way to deploy PKS without vSphere.

Luckily, an ecosystem of distributions has sprung up around Kubernetes, as is the case with most open source projects. If you're hesitant to deploy upstream, open source Kubernetes, evaluate the supported distributions that are available.

Full PaaS

Kubernetes PaaS products compete directly with VMware PKS. These platforms support developer-focused features, such as databases, authentication services and messaging buses.

OpenShift. Red Hat offers a full-on competitor to VMware PKS with OpenShift. Containers have taken off as a platform to build cloud-native applications, and Red Hat has adapted by offering a Kubernetes distribution as an integrated part of its product.

Similar to VMware PKS, Red Hat offers an end-to-end private data center. From Red Hat's Linux distribution with the KVM-based hypervisor to Kubernetes, Red Hat provides a stack with enterprise-class support via the strict Red Hat certification process.

There are several OpenShift deployment choices. The first option is a packaged on-premises platform. The base price of the on-premises platform is $48,000.

The second option is to consume the platform as a cloud offering. The SaaS offering starts at $50 per month and includes support for up to 10 projects.

The primary performance control in the SaaS offering is memory. Memory can be purchased per gigabyte at $25 per GB.

Docker Swarm. Docker is another full-service PaaS offering. Docker hides much of the complexity of Kubernetes by integrating the platform with Swarm operations.

Docker Swarm is part of Docker Enterprise Edition (EE). Docker EE comes in two versions -- Standard and Advanced. Both the Standard and Advanced versions provide Kubernetes support.

Docker EE is purchased per node. Pricing for the Standard version begins at $75 per node, per month.

Pure distribution

One of the challenges with open source is the packaging of patches and upgrades. Pure distributions add support to the upstream version of Kubernetes rather than adding proprietary features and functionality.

Pure distributions add support to the upstream version of Kubernetes rather than adding proprietary features and functionality.

Heptio. Heptio packages the upstream Kubernetes code and adds enterprise support with Heptio Kubernetes Subscription. Heptio can use any x86 infrastructure ranging from VMware-provided VMs to public cloud instances.

Heptio is a subscription-based offering. The starter package begins at $2,000 per month for standard support and $3,000 per month for advanced support.

Managed Kubernetes

Many organizations want to consume a cloud-native infrastructure, which VMware PKS does not provide.

AWS, Google Compute Engine and Microsoft Azure have announced managed Kubernetes deployments. Each cloud provider manages the Kubernetes components residing inside x86 instances within a customer's public cloud account.

Outside of public cloud providers, companies such as Nirmata and Platform9 offer managed Kubernetes services. These services can vary widely in pricing and features. All of these products work within a cloud deployment or private infrastructure. Taking a look at Platform9 might provide a baseline for comparison.

Platform9 started out as a managed OpenStack product. separates the private cloud control plane from the private cloud resources. Platform9 uses OpenStack deployment tools to provide a managed OpenStack instance. Customers install agents on the target infrastructure and Platform9's product pools the resources into a private cloud and provides a cloud interface for these resources.

The company recently announced a Kubernetes product that follows the same roadmap. The Kubernetes control plane remains in Platform9's infrastructure. Similar to the OpenStack platform, the company's Kubernetes product is a pure Kubernetes distribution.

Platform9 doesn't publish pricing information.

This was last published in May 2018

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Which Kubernetes deployment tool is right for you?
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The only problem with OpenShift I see right now is the lack of consistency around network policy from Dev to Test to Stage to Prod.  The platform doesn't have a consistent method of networking policy to deploy between environments.  Also, there's a huge gap on the ability to patch environments across the board.  This is one of the main reasons to use PKS, it removes your day two operational challenges around patching and compliance.  If you want to develop that yourself, it is extremely difficult, but for those up to the challenge and have the time to develop this functionality instead of actually develop apps, then by all means.  PKS is powered by BOSH and runs on Google GKE as well so although there's a dependency for PKS on vSphere for your private cloud, the cross cloud compatibility for network policy and day 2 operations across these clouds is ideal.
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You state “But, there's no way to deploy PKS without vSphere.” So what’s this?..: https://docs.pivotal.io/runtimes/pks/1-0/installing-pks-gcp.html
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https://cloud.vmware.com/pivotal-container-service/faq#general

PKS is built to support multi-cloud environments through BOSH, an open source project in the Cloud Foundry Foundation. In the initial release, PKS will run on vSphere and Google Cloud Platform.

Sometimes I think it's important that an article author gets his/facts right before posting. Otherwise, it will just be misinformation, or throwing FUD
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https://docs.pivotal.io/runtimes/pks/1-0/gcp-prepare-env.html

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