Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes

Kubernetes container services are key services for cloud native platforms that let you run various workloads. It lets organizations manage enterprise applications throughout the application life cycle. This service lets you run containerized applications efficiently over the cloud. Its modular structure offers reliability, availability and security of applications hosted on cloud and can scale them as per the need. 

In this article we will learn more about container service in Alibaba cloud, its features, advantages and use cases etc.   

What is a Container Service? 

Alibaba container services let you integrate Alibaba’s cloud computing and virtualization capabilities, storage, networking, and security to offer an ideal runtime environment for Kubernetes based containerized applications. 

Types of Container Cluster

Alibaba cloud offers three types of container clusters – dedicated cluster, managed Kubernetes cluster and serverless Kubernetes. 

  • Dedicated Cluster – create three master nodes and several worker nodes to achieve high availability. This type of Kubernetes cluster lets you manage cluster infrastructure in a fine grained manner. It requires to plan, maintain and upgrade this type of cluster on your own
  • Managed Kubernetes Cluster – only requirement is to create worker nodes. Container service for Kubernetes creates master nodes. It is easy to use, low cost and highly available cluster and relieves you from overhead of managing master nodes.
  • Serverless Kubernetes – here you don’t need to create and manage any master nodes or work nodes. Container service console or command line interface can be used to configure resources for containers, mention container images for applications and provide methods for external access and initiate applications.

Container service for Kubernetes supports Docker CE and offers a Docker community to help to communicate with other Docker users to resolve issues. 

Kubernetes is quite similar to PaaS systems but doesn’t operate at hardware level. It runs at container level and provides general features such as deployment, scaling, load balancing and allows users to integrate logging, monitoring, and alerting solutions.

Features of Container Services for Kubernetes

  • Cluster management – it offers three types of clusters namely dedicated ones, managed ones and serverless clusters
  • Supports 5000 Elastic compute service (ECS) instances under one cluster
  • Supports multi-cluster management, cross zone clusters and Federation in clusters
  • Cross zone high availability and disaster recovery
  • Elastic resource scaling – auto scaling of containers based on its usage; thousands of nodes can be scaled up in 1 minute
  • 500 pods can be started in a minute of application is deployed on elastic container instances (ECIs) in serverless Kubernetes cluster
  • Supports vertical scaling, affinity policies and scale out for services
  • Offers standard horizontal POD Autoscaler (HPA), vertical POD Autoscaler (VPA) and cluster Autoscaler 
  • Provides scheduled scaling capacity similar to cron HPA and serverless scalability using virtual kubelet Autoscaler
  • Fine grained scheduling of business using ack-Kubernetes -elastic workload 
  • Provides Alibaba metrics adapter to address different scaling needs , application scaling optimization using ingress gateway, sentinel based microservice rate limiting etc.
  • Supports different types of releases – phased release, blue green release, application monitoring and application autoscaling
  • Service catalogue for ease of cloud service integration
  • Supports container and VM level monitoring

Use cases for Alibaba Container Service

DevOps and Continuous Delivery – container service integrates with Jenkins and automates DevOps pipeline which ranges from submission of code to deployment of applications. This pipeline ensures code is submitted for deployment only after passing automated testing and offers an alternative modern delivery model which is fast and agile instead of the traditional approach which is complex and slow.

Microservices Architecture – Agile development and deployment speeds up evolution of business models – workload in production is divided into multiple microservices applications , managed by Alibaba cloud image repositories. Scheduling, deployment, orchestration, and implementation of canary releases of microservice applications to focus only on feature updates

Hybrid Cloud Architecture – to centrally manage cloud and on premises resources in container service consoles. Differences between infrastructure are hidden by containers which enable the use of the same images and orchestration templates to deploy applications in cloud and on premises. 

Auto Scaling Architecture – container services let workloads to auto scale and resources based on traffic. Traffic spikes which could bring systems down handled efficiently and also eliminate idle resources during non-peak hours. 

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