PowerFlex and Amazon: Destination EKS Anywhere
Thu, 13 Jan 2022 23:01:50 -0000|
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Welcome to your destination. Today Dell Technologies is pleased to share that Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) Anywhere has been validated on Dell PowerFlex software-defined infrastructure. Amazon EKS Anywhere is a new deployment option for Amazon EKS that enables customers to easily create and operate Kubernetes clusters on-premises while allowing for easy connectivity and portability to Amazon AWS environments. PowerFlex helps customers deliver a flexible deployment solution that scales as needs change with smooth, painless node-by-node expandability, inclusive of compute and storage, in a unified fabric architecture.
Dell Technologies collaborates with a broad ecosystem of public cloud providers to help our customers support multi-cloud environments that help place the right data and applications where it makes the most sense for them. Deploying Amazon EKS Anywhere on Dell Technologies infrastructure streamlines application development and delivery by allowing organizations to easily create and manage on premises Kubernetes clusters.
Across nearly all industries, IT organizations are moving to a more developer-oriented model that requires automated processes, rapid resource delivery, and reliable infrastructure. To drive operational simplicity through Kubernetes orchestration, Amazon EKS Anywhere helps customers automate cluster management, reduce support costs, and eliminate the redundant effort of using multiple open source or 3rd party tools to manage Kubernetes clusters. The combination of automated Kubernetes cluster management with intelligent, automated infrastructure quickly brings organizations to the next stop in their IT Journey, allowing them to provide infrastructure as code and empower their DevOps teams to be the innovation engine for their businesses.
Let us explore Amazon EKS Anywhere on PowerFlex and how it helps you move towards a more developer-oriented model. First, let’s look at the requirements for Amazon EKS Anywhere.
To deploy Amazon EKS Anywhere we will need a PowerFlex environment running VMware vSphere 7.0 or higher. Specifically, our validation used vSphere 7.0.2. We will also need to ensure we have sufficient capacity to deploy 8 to 10 Amazon EKS VMs. Additionally, we will need a network in the vSphere workload cluster with a DHCP service. This network is what the workload VMs will connect to. There are also a few Internet locations that the Amazon EKS administrative VM will need to reach, so that the manifests, OVAs, and Amazon EKS distro can be downloaded. Initial deployments can start with as few as four PowerFlex nodes and grow to meet the expansion needs of storage, compute, or both for scalability of over 1,000 nodes.
The logical view of the Amazon EKS Anywhere environment on PowerFlex is illustrated below.
There are two types of templates used for the workloads: a Bottlerocket template and an Ubuntu image. The Bottlerocket template is a customized image from Amazon that is specific to Amazon EKS Anywhere. The Ubuntu template was used for our validation.
Note: Bottlerocket is a Linux-based open-source operating system that is purpose-built by Amazon. It focuses on security and maintainability, and provides a reliable, consistent, and safe platform for container-based workloads. Amazon EKS managed node groups with Bottlerocket support enable you to leverage the simplicity of managed node provisioning and lifecycle management features, while using the latest best practices for running containers in production. You can run your Kubernetes workloads on Bottlerocket nodes and benefit from enhanced security, higher cluster utilization, and less operational overhead. https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/containers/amazon-eks-adds-native-support-for-bottlerocket-in-managed-node-groups/
After the Amazon EKS admin VM is deployed, a command is issued on the Amazon EKS admin VM. This deploys the workload clusters and creates associated CRD instances on the workload cluster. This illustrates the ease of container deployment with Amazon EKS Anywhere. A single instance was prepped, then with some built-in scripting and commands, the system can direct the complex deployment. This greatly simplifies the process when compared to a traditional Kubernetes deployment.
At this point, the deployment can be tested. Amazon provides a test workload that can be used to validate the environment. You can find the details on testing on the Amazon EKS Anywhere documentation site.
The design that was validated was more versatile than a typical Amazon EKS Anywhere deployment. Instead of using the standard VMware CNS-CSI storage provider, this PowerFlex validation uses the Dell PowerFlex CSI plugin. This makes it possible to take direct advantage of PowerFlex’s storage capabilities. With the CSI plugin, it is possible to extend volumes through Amazon EKS, as well as snapshot and restore volumes.
This allows IT departments to move toward developer-oriented processes. Developers can work with storage natively. There are no additional tools to learn and no need to perform operations outside the development environment. This can be a time savings benefit to developer-oriented IT departments.
Beyond storage control in Amazon EKS Anywhere, the results of these operations can be viewed in the PowerFlex management interface. This provides an end-to-end view of the environment and allows traditional IT administrators to use familiar tools to manage and monitor their environment. This makes it easy for the entire IT organization’s journey to move towards a more developer centric environment.
By leveraging Amazon EKS Anywhere on PowerFlex, organizations get on-premises Kubernetes operational tooling that’s consistent with Amazon EKS. Organizations are able to leverage the Amazon EKS console to view all of their Kubernetes clusters (including Amazon EKS Anywhere clusters) running anywhere, through the Amazon EKS Connector. This brings together both the data center and cloud, simplifying the management of both.
In this journey, we have seen that Amazon EKS Anywhere has been validated on Dell PowerFlex, shown how they work together, and enable expanded storage capabilities for developers inside of Amazon EKS Anywhere. It also allows you to use familiar tools in managing the environment. To find out more about Amazon EKS anywhere on PowerFlex, talk with your Dell representative.
Author: Tony Foster, Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer
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Exploring Amazon EKS Anywhere on PowerStore X – Part I
Tue, 11 Jan 2022 17:53:03 -0000|
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A number of years ago, I began hearing about containers and containerized applications. Kiosks started popping up at VMworld showcasing fun and interesting uses cases, as well as practical uses of containerized applications. A short time later, my perception was that focus had shifted from containers to container orchestration and management or simply put, Kubernetes. I got my first real hands on experience with Kubernetes about 18 months ago when I got heavily involved with VMware’s Project Pacific and vSphere with Tanzu. The learning experience was great and it ultimately lead to authoring a technical white paper titled Dell EMC PowerStore and VMware vSphere with Tanzu and TKG Clusters.
Just recently, a Product Manager made me aware of a newly released Kubernetes distribution worth checking out: Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service Anywhere (Amazon EKS). Amazon EKS Anywhere was preannounced at AWS re:Invent 2020 and announced as generally available in September 2021.
Amazon EKS Anywhere is a deployment option for Amazon EKS that enables customers to stand up Kubernetes clusters on-premises using VMware vSphere 7+ as the platform (bare metal platform support is planned for later this year). Aside from a vSphere integrated control plane and running vSphere native pods, the Amazon EKS Anywhere approach felt similar to the work I performed with vSphere with Tanzu. Control plane nodes and worker nodes are deployed to vSphere infrastructure and consume native storage made available by a vSphere administrator. Storage can be block, file, vVol, vSAN, or any combination of these. Just like vSphere with Tanzu, storage consumption, including persistent volumes and persistent volume claims, is made easy by leveraging the Cloud Native Storage (CNS) feature in vCenter Server (released in vSphere 6.7 Update 3). No CSI driver installation necessary.
Amazon EKS users will immediately gravitate towards the consistent AWS management experience in Amazon EKS Anywhere. vSphere administrators will enjoy the ease of deployment and integration with vSphere infrastructure that they already have on-premises. To add to that, Amazon EKS Anywhere is Open Source. It can be downloaded and fully deployed without software or license purchase. You don’t even need an AWS account.
I found PowerStore was a good fit for vSphere with Tanzu, especially the PowerStore X model, which has a built in vSphere hypervisor, allowing customers to run applications directly on the same appliance through a feature known as AppsON.
The question that quickly surfaces is: What about Amazon EKS Anywhere on PowerStore X on-premises or as an Edge use case? It’s a definite possibility. Amazon EKS Anywhere has already been validated on VxRail. The AppsON deployment option in PowerStore 2.1 offers vSphere 7 Update 3 compute nodes connected by a vSphere Distributed Switch out of the box, plus support for both vVol and block storage. CNS will enable DevOps teams to consume vVol storage on a storage policy basis for their containerized applications, which is great for PowerStore because it boasts one of the most efficient vVol implementations on the market today. The native PowerStore CSI driver is also available as a deployment option. What about sizing and scale? Amazon EKS Anywhere deploys on a single PowerStore X appliance consisting of two nodes but can be scaled across four clustered PowerStore X appliances for a total of eight nodes.
As is often the case, I went to the lab and set up a proof of concept environment consisting of Amazon EKS Anywhere running on PowerStore X 2.1 infrastructure. In short, the deployment was wildly successful. I was up and running popular containerized demo applications in a relatively short amount of time. In Part II of this series, I will go deeper into the technical side, sharing some of the steps I followed to deploy Amazon EKS Anywhere on PowerStore X.
Author: Jason Boche
Dell PowerFlex Bare Metal with Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service Anywhere, and We Do Mean “Anywhere!”
Mon, 27 Jun 2022 18:49:59 -0000|
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Anywhere, that’s a powerful statement, especially to someone who works in IT. That could be in a cloud, or in a set of virtual machines in your data center, or even physical hosts. What if you could run Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) Anywhere on a virtual machine or on bare-metal, anywhere, including your data center?
You might have read my previous blog where we discussed running Amazon EKS Anywhere on Dell PowerFlex in a virtual environment. This time we are going further and have validated Amazon EKS Anywhere on a bare-metal instance of PowerFlex.
The good old days
If you are old enough to remember, like I am, the days before virtualization, with stranded resources and data centers with enormous footprints to support all the discrete servers and siloed workloads, you might be curious: Why would anyone go back to bare-metal?
Having been part of the movement all the way back to 2006, it’s a good question. In simple terms, what we are seeing today is not a return to the bare-metal siloed data centers of 20 years ago. Instead, we are seeing an improved utilization of resources by leveraging micro services, be that in the cloud, in virtualized environments, or with bare-metal. In addition, it provides greater portability and scalability than could ever have been imagined 20 years ago. This is thanks to the use of containers and the way they isolate processes from each other. Additionally, with a bare-metal platform running containers, more system resources can be directed to workloads than if the containers were nested inside of a virtual environment.
This is central to the concept of a DevOps-ready platform. In the coming weeks, we will expand on how this enhances the productivity of native cloud operations for today’s modern businesses. You will find this on the Dell Digital blog with the title Customer Choice Comes First: Dell Technologies and AWS EKS Anywhere.
Beyond just the economics of this, there are scenarios where a bare-metal deployment can be helpful. This includes low latency and latency sensitive applications that need to run near the data origin. This of course can include edge scenarios where it is not practical to transmit vast quantities of data.
Data sovereignty and compliance can also be addressed as an Amazon EKS Anywhere solution. While data and associated processing can be done in the data center, to maintain compliance requirements, it can still be part of a holistic environment that is displayed in the Amazon EKS Console when the Amazon EKS Connector has been configured. This allows for monitoring of applications running anywhere in the environment.
Digging deeper on this concept, PowerFlex is a software defined infrastructure (SDI) that provides a powerful tool in delivering the modern bare-metal or virtualized options that best suit application deployment needs. The hardware infrastructure becomes malleable to the needs of the data center and can take on various forms of modern infrastructure, from hyper-converged to bare-metal. This has always been a core tenet of PowerFlex.
When Amazon EKS Anywhere is deployed on PowerFlex, it becomes possible to optimize the IT environment precisely for the needs of the environment, instead of forcing it to conform to the limits of IT infrastructure. Bare-metal hosts can provide microservices for large applications, such as databases and websites, where a container instance may be created and destroyed rapidly and on a massive scale.
Let’s look at the Amazon EKS Anywhere validated architecture in the following figure. It shows how PowerFlex delivers a unique software-defined 3-tier architecture that can asymmetrically scale compute separate from storage.
The bottom portion of the figure consists of PowerFlex – storage-only nodes (1U). In the middle of the diagram are the hosts used for the control plane and worker nodes. These are PowerFlex – compute-only nodes (2U). On the far left are the admin and Tinkerbell nodes that allow for administration of the environment. Lastly, in the top set of boxes, we have the control plane, at the top left, that provides operational control and orchestration. The worker nodes, at the top right, handle the workloads.
Let’s look at some important aspects of each area shown here, starting with the storage nodes. Each storage node contains five 1.4TB SAS SSD drives and eight 25GbE network links. For the validation, as shown here, four PowerFlex storage nodes were used to provide full redundancy.
For the compute nodes, we used two 2U nodes. These two hosts have the PowerFlex Container Storage Interface (CSI) Plug-in installed to provide access to the PowerFlex storage. This is deployed as part of the PXE boot process along with the Ubuntu OS. It’s important to note that there is no hypervisor installed and that the storage is provided by the four storage nodes. This creates a two-layer architecture which, as you can see, creates separate storage and compute layers for the environment.
Using a two-layer architecture makes it possible to scale resources independently as needed in the environment, which allows for optimal resource utilization. Thus, if more storage is needed, it can be scaled without increasing the amount of compute. And likewise, if the environment needs additional compute capacity, it can easily be added.
Outside of the Amazon EKS Anywhere instance are two nodes. Both are central to building the control plane and worker nodes. The admin node is where the user can control the Amazon EKS Anywhere instance and serves as a portal to upload inventory information to the Tinkerbell node. The Tinkerbell node serves as the infrastructure services stack and is key in the provisioning and PXE booting of the bare-metal workloads.
When a configuration file with the data center hardware has been uploaded, Tinkerbell generates a cluster configuration file. The hardware configuration and cluster configuration files, both in YAML format, are processed by Tinkerbell to create a boot strap kind cluster on the admin host to install the Cluster-API (CAPI) and the Cluster-API-Provider-Tinkerbell (CAPT).
With the base control environment operational, CAPI creates cluster node resources, and CAPT maps and powers on the corresponding bare-mental servers. The bare-metal servers PXE boot from the Tinkerbell node. The bare-metal servers then join the Kubernetes cluster. Cluster management resources are transferred from the bootstrap cluster to the target Amazon EKS Anywhere workload cluster. The local bootstrap kind cluster is then deleted from the admin machine. This creates both the Control Plane and Worker Nodes. With the cluster established, SDC drivers are installed on the Worker node(s) along with the Dell CSI Plug-in for PowerFlex. At this point, workloads can be deployed to the Worker node(s) as needed.
With the infrastructure deployed, our solutions engineers were able to test the Amazon EKS Anywhere environment. The testing included provisioning persistent volume claims (PVCs), expanding PVCs, and snapshotting them. All of this functionality relies on the Dell CSI Plugin for PowerFlex. Following this validation, a test workload can be deployed on the bare-metal Amazon EKS Anywhere environment.
If you would like to explore the deployment further, the Dell Solutions Engineering team is creating a white paper on the deployment of Amazon EKS Anywhere that covers these details in greater depth. When published, we will be sure to update this blog with a link to the white paper.
This validation enables the use of Amazon EKS Anywhere across bare-metal environments, expanding the use beyond the previous validation of virtual environments. This means that you can use Amazon EKS Anywhere anywhere, really!
With bare-metal deployments, it is possible to scale environments independently based on resource demands. PowerFlex software defined infrastructure not only supports a malleable environment like this, but also allows mixing environments to include hyper converged components. This means that an infrastructure can be tailored to the environment’s needs — instead of the environment being forced to conform to the infrastructure. It also creates an environment that unifies the competing demands of data sovereignty and cloud IT, by enabling data to maintain appropriate residence while unifying the control plane.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can leverage Amazon EKS Anywhere in your bare-metal PowerFlex environment, reach out to your Dell representative. Where is anywhere for you?
- Deploying a test workload
- Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service Anywhere on Dell PowerFlex
- Introducing bare metal deployments for Amazon EKS Anywhere
- Blog: Customer Choice Comes First: Dell Technologies and AWS EKS Anywhere
Authors: Tony Foster
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