By Keith Andruch, Customer Delivery Architect – AWS ProServe
By Andrew Park, AWS Solutions Architect – Media

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Kubernetes has changed the infrastructure landscape dramatically since its inception over six years ago, creating a vast community and platform for new technology innovations that support modern developers.

Though Kubernetes has helped accelerate application delivery and improved the agility of developers, it’s not without its challenges.

Organizations are often restricted in their ability to leverage Kubernetes from their own lack of knowledge and limited talent available to their development and infrastructure teams.

However, the industry is continually changing, and solutions like Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) and Rancher are emerging to help new users easily adopt, manage, and operate Kubernetes.

Amazon EKS helps customers bridge some of these technological gaps around Kubernetes. Users can quickly create a scalable Kubernetes instance on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and integrate them natively with other AWS services.

When used with Amazon EKS, Rancher gives users access to a powerful, easy to use, reliable, and integrated Kubernetes management platform.

Rancher users can perform full lifecycle management of their EKS environment, including node management, auto scaling, importing, provisioning, securing, and configuration of clusters—all within a single pane of glass.

In this post, we will explore how Rancher and Amazon EKS together make it easier for users looking to adopt a cloud-native strategy for their infrastructure. Rancher is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner and AWS Marketplace Seller.

Full Lifecycle Management for Amazon EKS Clusters

Amazon EKS is a fully managed Kubernetes service. It runs the Kubernetes control plane instances across multiple AWS Availability Zones to ensure high availability.

Rancher, meanwhile, provides an intuitive user interface and platform for managing and deploying the Kubernetes clusters that run on Amazon EKS.

With the latest release of Rancher 2.5, the Rancher Labs team has built new functionality on the platform to provide complete lifecycle management of all Amazon EKS clusters.

Shown in the table below, users have access to new features including enhancing cluster imports, observability tools, and centralized tooling within the Rancher platform. This provides a complete solution for Amazon EKS users to efficiently run, deploy, and operate their Kubernetes clusters.

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Figure 1 – Benefits of Rancher 2.5 with Amazon EKS.

Role-Based Access Control and Centralized User Authentication

Rancher enforces consistent role-based access control (RBAC) policies on Amazon EKS and any other Kubernetes environment by integrating with AWS Directory Service, LDAP, or SAML-based authentication.

Rancher’s centralized RBAC reduces the administrative overhead of maintaining user or group profiles across multiple platforms, and makes it easier for administrators to meet any compliance requirements while delegating any Kubernetes cluster or namespace administration.

Intuitive User Interface for Comprehensive Control

Development teams can consistently deploy and troubleshoot workloads across Amazon EKS and any provider using Rancher’s intuitive web user interface.

Rancher reduces the learning gaps of Kubernetes, as users can quickly learn to launch applications and wire them together at production level in EKS and elsewhere. Teams don’t need to know everything about a specific Kubernetes distribution or infrastructure provider to be productive and start deploying clusters.

What’s more, Rancher-managed EKS deployments also support Center for Internet Security (CIS) templating and scanning to minimize configuration drift between clusters, further simplifying operational requirements.

Enhanced Cluster Security

Rancher administrators and their security teams can centrally define how users should interact with Kubernetes, and how containerized workloads should operate across all of their infrastructures, including Amazon EKS.

Once defined, these policies can be instantly assigned across any Kubernetes cluster, wherever its located.

Global Application Catalog and Multi-Cluster Apps

Rancher provides access for users to a global catalog of applications that work across multiple Kubernetes clusters, wherever their location.

For enterprises running in a hybrid Kubernetes environment, Rancher reduces the load on operations teams while increasing productivity and reliability via its easy management console.

Technology Architecture Overview

Together, the Rancher and Amazon EKS solution creates a cloud-native approach to infrastructure strategy and operational excellence using Kubernetes.

Rancher and EKS simplify the process of standing up your Kubernetes control plane. Instead of running the Kubernetes control plane in your account on dedicated Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, EKS automatically manages the availability and scalability of the Kubernetes master nodes, API servers, and etcd (the core persistence layer for Kubernetes). This ultimately reduces your operational burden and allowing you to focus on what matters most.

In the technical architecture image below, you can see how users can run Rancher directly on EKS clusters without needing to provision their own Rancher Kubernetes Engine (RKE) clusters on Amazon EC2 instances.

Amazon EKS abstracts the complexity of the Kubernetes control plane, allowing Rancher to run on a managed platform that monitors the overall performance and scales up when necessary in a transparent manner.

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Figure 2 – Technical architecture of Rancher and Amazon EKS.

Customer Benefits and Success

Many teams are successfully using Rancher and Amazon EKS together to establish a reliable and robust Kubernetes strategy.

The solution detailed in this post provides a thorough walkthrough on the features available to enterprise organizations looking to optimize their infrastructure strategy with Kubernetes.

One notable example of this solution’s success is the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) of Ontario, which leveraged Rancher with Amazon EKS to reduce their application deployment time by 85 percent and optimize their cloud usage by 40 percent.

MPAC achieved these results by leveraging Rancher as a reliable and predictable part of their Kubernetes strategy via the centralized platform that democratized the use of containers across the business.

Summary

The Rancher and Amazon EKS solution allows enterprises to overcome common technical challenges associated with Kubernetes, including learning and resourcing gaps, onboarding, and operational difficulties.

Together, the solution creates a holistic environment for developers and infrastructure engineers to create a sustainable and innovative infrastructure strategy.

In this post, we covered how Rancher 2.5 supports Amazon EKS users in their operational management of Kubernetes through full lifecycle management, including importation, provisioning, security and configuration of clusters.

To learn more about Rancher and AWS, read the quick start guide.

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Rancher – AWS Partner Spotlight

Rancher is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner that lets you deliver Kubernetes-as-a-Service from data center to cloud to edge.

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