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This is the second edition of the article about major Kubernetes distribution. Click here for the first edition of the article.

I really feel Kubernetes is everywhere. It took over the place of OpenStack, Apache Mesos and Cloud Foundry. All major cloud providers are providing containers services, utilizing Kubernetes. Major Linux vendors are having container products based on Kubernetes. Previously, SUSE did not have Kubernetes offering but they acquired Rancher (completed on 2020 Dec). VMware had acquired Pivotal and integrated Pivotal Kubernetes Service (PKS) with the vSphere platform. HPE joined the competition with their HPE Ezmeral software portfolio.

This article describes and lists the technologies used and supported by major and notable Kubernetes distributions and cloud providers. I only focus on some of the aspects like the upstream version, container runtimes, CNI and licensing. By no means it is a complete list and could compare all the aspects.

  • Note: IBM have private cloud offering called IBM Cloud Private, which is designed to be installed on premises or on cloud. The support configuration and specification between IBM Cloud Private and IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service (IKS) are very similar but not exactly the same. Also, in a webinar, it was mentioned that IBM should be moving from IKS to use OpenShift in the future.

If you found any problems please feel free to let me know.

Major Kubernetes distributions and cloud providers
Name Product version Based on upstream Container runtime De facto CNI Other CNI License
Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) May, 28, 2021 (R18)
  • Stable 1.18.17
  • Regular 1.19.9
  • Rapid 1.12.1
containerd GKE native CNI Calico (at creation time) Commercial cloud service
Amazon EKS As of 2021-May-16 1.16 to 1.20
  • Default Docker. Fargate and Bottlerocket already using containerd
  • AWS would target to use containerd for EKS AMI (Kubernetes 1.21)
  • AWS would release a blog for transition from Docker to containerd
Amazon VPC CNI plugin From partner support: Calico, Cilium, Weave Net, Antrea Commercial cloud service
OpenShift 4.7.0 1.20 CRI-O only OpenShift SDN (make use of Open vSwitch) OVN-Kubernetes (Technology Preview) Apache License 2.0. Relies on other products with various licenses - Also have commercial cloud service
Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) As of 2021-June 1.19 to 1.21 (1.21 to be released in 2021 June, 1.18 to be EOL after that)
  • For AKS 1.19 it defaults to containerd
  • Previous version should use Docker as default
Azure CNI or Calico No other CNI officially supported according to an issue in 2018 Commercial cloud service
VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated Edition (TKGI) 1.11.0 1.20.5 Docker NSX Container Plugin (NCP) Antrea backed by VMware (based on Open vSwitch) is not officially supported now Closed source
Rancher 2.5.8 1.17.17 to 1.20.4 Docker, support containerd if rke2 is used Canal, Flannel, Calico and Weave (Weave is available as of v2.2.0) Need the URL for the exact support matrix Apache License 2.0, also have cloud service
IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service (IKS) As of 2021-June-06 1.18.19, 1.19.11, 1.20.7 containerd Calico N/A Commercial cloud service
D2iQ Konvoy 1.8, as of 2021-May-05 1.18.x (minimum), 1.20.6 (Default) containerd Calico N/A Commercial product
Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE) As of 2020-June-06 1.17.13 (minimum), 1.18.10, 1.19.7 (latest) Oracle Linux Container Services (a modified version of Docker) Calico N/A Commercial product

Discussion about the result

Let's have a short discussion about the table.

  • Upstream support
    • All major distributions and cloud providers are supporting the upstream Kubernetes 1.19 and 1.20.
    • OKE is lagging behind, not yet supporting Kubernetes 1.20.
  • Container runtime
    • Google GKE, Rancher RKE, D2iQ and IBM IKS are already using containerd runtime.
    • AKS defaults to use containerd for Kubernetes 1.19.
    • Amazon EKS is going to support containerd the default container runtime.
    • Red Hat backed CRI-O and they are using it on OpenShift.
    • Other distribution and vendors like VMware Tanzu, and Oracle are still using Docker or modified version of Docker.
  • CNI
    • Most vendors have their own native CNI. Calico is a popular option.
    • Some vendors like Red Hat and VMware make use of Open vSwitch for the CNI.

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