A Quick Guide to Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes

Alibaba Cloud
5 min readSep 8, 2020

By Rishu Mehra

Kubernetes clusters and Container Service are an essential part of a modern application environment. With the help of these services, the application is able to give the required performance as the core is present with it. The reason for this is because an application in a container is packaged with its runtime dependencies and is decoupled from the underlying host infrastructure. Using this approach, deploying applications on different cloud or OS environments is easier.

Although, the question here is actually why is Kubernetes needed? What are the benefits of Kubernetes over virtual machines? There any many reasons that make you go with Kubernetes for your application. Whereas one major reason is scaling and failover for your application with its deployment patterns.

What Kubernetes Can Offer

  • Service discovery and load balancing
    When traffic is high Kubernetes are smart to load balance and distribute the network traffic so that the deployment is stable. Kubernetes can expose a container using a DNS name
  • Storage automation
    Mount any storage system of your choice, such as local storage, public cloud providers, and more automatically with Kubernetes.
  • Automatic bin packing
    You provide Kubernetes with a cluster of nodes that it can use to run containerized tasks. You tell Kubernetes how much CPU and memory (RAM) each container needs. Kubernetes can fit containers onto your nodes to make the best use of your resources.
  • Self-healing
    Kubernetes containerization is works smart when this is a sudden downtime. It automatically handles the situation by restarting containers that fail, replaces containers, kills containers that don’t
  • Secret and configuration management
    Kubernetes lets you store and manage sensitive information, such as passwords, OAuth tokens, and SSH keys. You can deploy and update secrets and application configuration without rebuilding your container images, and without exposing secrets in your stack configuration.

In other words, Kubernetes is a high-performance and scalable containerized application management service that enables your CIO to manage the entire lifecycle of enterprise-level containerized applications.

Are these Containers actually Virtual Machines?

Similar to virtual machines (VMs), system admins can configure different computing options to containers also. Whereas, there is a big difference between a container and a VM. As containers provide a way to virtualize an OS so that multiple workloads can run on a single OS instance and have relaxed isolation properties to share the OS among the applications. Therefore, containers are considered lightweight. Also, containers are decoupled from the underlying infrastructure, they are portable across clouds and OS distributions.

Kubernetes with Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud offers the Container Service for Kubernetes service to simplify deployment and to make it possible to scale-out operations of Kubernetes clusters. Container Service for Kubernetes provides an ideal runtime environment for Kubernetes-based containerized applications by integrating Alibaba Cloud’s capabilities of virtualization, storage, networking, and security. Container Service is one of the first certified service platforms that obtain the certificate of conformance from Kubernetes in the world. It provides professional support and services related to containers.

Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes provides the following three types of Kubernetes clusters:

  • Dedicated Kubernetes cluster

You must create three master nodes and several worker nodes for a Dedicated Kubernetes cluster to achieve high availability. This type of Kubernetes cluster allows you to manage the cluster infrastructure in a more fine-grained manner. It requires you to plan, maintain, and upgrade the Kubernetes cluster on your own.

  • Managed Kubernetes cluster

You only need to create worker nodes. Container Service for Kubernetes creates and manages master nodes. This type of Kubernetes cluster is easy to use with low cost and high availability. You can focus on the business without the need to manage the master nodes of the Kubernetes cluster.

  • Serverless Kubernetes

You do not need to create and manage any master nodes or worker nodes. You can use the Container Service console or command-line interface to configure resources for containers, specify container images for applications, provide methods for external access, and start applications.

Advantages of Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes

With Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes you get an edge from others and advantages like:

If you use an ingress to control access to your Kubernetes cluster, frequent service releases may negatively affect the performance of the ingress and increase the error rate. Container Service for Kubernetes allows you to create SLB instances, which provide load balancing with high availability and can automatically modify network configurations to suit your business needs. SLB is adopted by a large number of users and has been proven to be a more stable and reliable alternative to ingresses.

In addition, self-built Kubernetes clusters cannot use cloud storage resources, whereas Container Service for Kubernetes seamlessly integrates with cloud storage resources. Container Service for Kubernetes lets you integrate with Alibaba Cloud disks, Apsara File Storage NAS, and Block Storage, and provides FlexVolume drivers. You can also easily integrate it with Alibaba Cloud Log Service and CloudMonitor.

Container Service for Kubernetes supports auto-scaling and offer an image repository that:

  • Provides high availability and high concurrency.
  • Supports accelerated image retrieval.
  • Supports peer-to-peer image distribution.

Self-built image repositories may stop responding when millions of clients attempt to pull images at the same time. Container Service for Kubernetes uses Container Register to manage images, which offers enhanced reliability and reduces O&M and upgrade costs.

Container Service for Kubernetes supports Docker CE and provides a Docker community to help you communicate with other Docker enthusiasts and resolve issues. Best practices are also provided to help you address issues, such as network interruptions, kernel incompatibilities, or Docker crashes. It provides high availability across multiple zones and supports backup and disaster recovery.

With simplified cluster creation and scaling and integrates Alibaba Cloud capabilities of virtualization, storage, networking, and security, providing the optimal environment to run Kubernetes-based containerized applications in the cloud. So the ensure lightweight and robustness of the Kubernetes the architecture is adapted and enhanced based on native Kubernetes.

In Summary

Kubernetes is almost like PaaS system but it does not operate on the hardware level. Rather it runs on the container level yet still provides some generally applicable features common to PaaS offerings, such as deployment, scaling, load balancing, and lets users integrate their logging, monitoring, and alerting solutions.

To learn more about Kubernetes on Alibaba Cloud, visit Container Service for Kubernetes

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