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This is the first edition of the article about major Kubernetes distribution. Click here for the update second 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. SUSE does not have Kubernetes offering but they acquired Rancher recently. VMware had acquired Pivotal and integrated Pivotal Kubernetes Service (PKS) with vSphere platform. HPE joins 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 comparing 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.

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

Edit 1: An update for Rancher, as they released Rancher 2.5 just now.

Major Kubernetes distributions and cloud providers
Name Product version Based on upstream Container runtime De facto CNI Other CNI License
Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) October 02, 2020 (R32)
  • Stable 1.16.13-gke.401
  • Regular 1.17.9-gke.6300
  • Rapid 1.18.9-gke.801
containerd GKE native CNI Calico (at creation time) Commercial cloud service
Amazon EKS As of 2020-Oct-05 1.15 to 1.17, 1.18 to be released in 2020-Oct Docker, containerd in preview Amazon VPC CNI plugin From partner support: Calico, Cilium, Weave Net, Antrea Commercial cloud service
OpenShift 4.5.0 1.18 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 2020-Oct-05 1.16 to 1.18 Docker Kubenet and Azure CNI No other CNI officially supported according to an issue in 2018 Commercial cloud service
VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated Edition (TKGI) 1.9 1.18.8 Docker NSX Container Plugin (NCP) Antrea backed by VMware (based on Open vSwitch) is not officially supported now Closed source
Rancher 2.4.8 / 2.5.0 1.15.12 to 1.18.6 / 1.16.15 to 1.19.2 Docker 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 2020-Oct-05 1.16.15, 1.17.12, 1.18.9 containerd Calico N/A Commercial cloud service
D2iQ Konvoy 1.5 1.15.4 (minimum), 1.17.11 (Default) containerd Calico N/A Commercial product
Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE) As of 2020-Oct-05 1.14.8 (minimum), 1.15.7, 1.16.8 (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 1.18.
    • Amazon EKS plans to support it in this month.
    • D2iQ Konvoy 1.5 (and 1.6 beta) currently only support Kubernetes 1.17.
    • OKE is lagging behind, on 2020-Jun-22, it introduced support of Kubernetes 1.16.8.
    • With Rancher releasing Rancher 2.5 on Oct-06, it supported Kubernetes 1.19.2 by default.
  • Container runtime
    • Google GKE, D2iQ and IBM IKS are already using containerd runtime.
    • Amazon EKS is going to support containerd.
    • Red Hat backed CRI-O and they are using it on OpenShift.
    • Other distribution and vendors like Microsoft AKS, VMware Tanzu, Rancher 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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