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DigitalOcean Launches Managed Kubernetes Service

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Cloud provider DigitalOcean recently opened up access to their new Kubernetes-as-a-Service offering. This fully-managed service is now available in every DigitalOcean region.

In May 2018, DigitalOcean announced a preview of their Kubernetes service, and had over 30,000 developers try it out. In a blog post last week, DigitalOcean announced that DigitalOcean Kubernetes was available to everyone. This service lets developers provision Kubernetes v1.12.3 clusters of various sizes atop virtual machines, or Droplets. This service manages the Kubernetes control plane (master nodes and workers) on behalf of the developer, at no additional cost. Users do pay for the underlying Droplets, any attached Block Storage volumes, and any Load Balancers. While developers provision and configure these environments via the DigitalOcean dashboard or API, DigitalOcean exposes standard Kubernetes endpoints for interacting with the clusters themselves.

The product documentation wasn't updated for this launch, but it still reveals key details about the service. While the Kuberenetes worker nodes run atop standard DigitalOcean droplets, SSH access is disabled on these managed servers. Any worker node management happens through the Kubernetes CLI tool, kubectl. Using the DigitalOcean API, developers can add or remove worker nodes at any time. The master nodes are fully managed by DigitalOcean, and inaccessible to users to the point that they don't even show up in the list of deployed Droplets. For cluster networking, DigitalOcean Kubernetes uses Flannel as the default technology, and this cannot be changed. Today, clusters do not span regions and are specific to a given region. Users should also be aware that the service does not yet support cluster auto-scaling or version upgrades, and log files don't get rotated or trimmed.

DigitalOcean joins a crowded marketplace of managed Kubernetes providers. Google offers the mature GKE platform with fully managed, upgradeable, scalable environments that can span geographies. Microsoft's AKS also delivers fully managed Kubernetes environments. Amazon EKS offers multi-availability-zone deployments and managed master nodes. Developers can also choose offerings from the likes of IBMOracle, and Cisco

How does DigitalOcean stand apart? The Stack says its by marketing "with the same selling points that have made its cloud services so popular: speed, simplicity and slick UIs." The crowd at Hacker News reinforced thisOne commenter praised DigitalOcean for their simple packaging of complex services, and others piled on with kudos for simplicity and predictable cost.

This service has room to grow, as outlined in the blog post announcing the service. 

Today’s announcement is a continuation of that journey. We have many more features coming to DigitalOcean Kubernetes and are working hard to bring a private and integrated container image registry, Kubernetes cluster metrics, new global regions, Role Based Access Control (RBAC) integration with Teams, Network Policy support, autoscaling, and automated Kubernetes version upgrades. Stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks and months!

In the aforementioned Hacker News thread, DigitalOcean staff provided additional hints about their future services and capabilities. Head of developer relations Eddie Zaneski mentioned that Kubernetes master node tiering is on the roadmap. VP of product, Shiven Ramji, shared that DigitalOcean is also looking at managed data services like PostgreSQL, MySQL, Redis, and Apache Kafka.

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