Rancher Labs Introduces Lightweight Distribution of Kubernetes to Simplify Operations in Low-Resource Computing Environments

K3s from Rancher Labs addresses emerging use cases for Kubernetes on
edge and IoT devices

CUPERTINO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Containers?src=hash” target=”_blank”gt;#Containerslt;/agt;–Rancher
, a leading provider of container management software, today
announced K3s,
a lightweight Kubernetes distribution designed for developers and
operators looking for a way to run Kubernetes in resource-constrained
environments. Rancher
launched the project to address the increasing demand for
small, easy to manage Kubernetes clusters running on x86, ARM64 and
ARMv7 processors in edge computing environments.

“Existing Kubernetes distributions are often memory intensive and overly
complex for edge computing environments,” said Sheng Liang, CEO and
co-founder of Rancher Labs. “In the last year we’ve worked with dozens
of teams who see Kubernetes as an ideal platform for managing edge
infrastructure but have been reluctant to commit a large portion of
resources in their edge devices to run a full-fledged Kubernetes
platform. With K3s, we can provide these teams with a distribution of
Kubernetes that requires less than 512 MB of RAM, and is ideally suited
for edge use cases. We see significant demand for K3s among
organizations in the retail, finance, telco, utility and manufacturing

How K3s reduces the size of Kubernetes

To reduce the memory required to run Kubernetes, the engineering team at
Rancher Labs developing K3s focused on four primary changes:

  • Removing old and non-essential code: K3s does not include any
    alpha functionality that is disabled by default or old features that
    have been deprecated, such as old API groups, which are still shipped
    in a standard deployment. Rancher also removed all non-default
    admission controllers, in-tree cloud providers, and storage drivers,
    opting instead to allow users to add in any drivers they need.
  • Consolidating the packaging of running processes: To conserve
    RAM, Rancher combined the processes that typically run on a Kubernetes
    management server into a single process. Rancher has also combined the
    Kubelet, kubeproxy and flannel agent processes that run on a worker
    node into a single process.
  • Using containerd instead of Docker as the runtime container engine:
    By substituting containerd for Docker, Rancher was able to cut the
    runtime footprint significantly, removing functionality like
    libnetwork, swarm, Docker storage drivers and other plugins.
  • Introducing SQLite as an optional datastore in addition to etcd:
    Rancher added SQLite as optional datastore in K3s to provide a
    lightweight alternative to etcd that has both a lower memory
    footprint, as well as dramatically simplified operations.

An Ideal Kubernetes Distribution for Low-Touch Operations

As Kubernetes pushes out to the edge, the number of Kubernetes clusters
a team is operating is increasing rapidly. In many of the most
interesting edge use cases, organizations will run thousands of one, two
or three node Kubernetes clusters. To support the operators who will be
responsible for managing that scale of infrastructure, K3s was designed
to maximize the simplicity of installation and operations.

Key features include:

  • Production-grade Kubernetes: K3s is a standards-compliant,
    Kubernetes distribution engineered for mission-critical, production
    use cases.
  • One binary with zero host dependencies: Everything necessary to
    install Kubernetes on any device is included in a single, 40mb binary.
    There is no requirement for an external installer like KubeSpray,
    KubeADM or RKE. With a single command, a single-node K3s cluster can
    be provisioned or upgraded.
  • Simple to add nodes to a cluster: To add additional nodes to a
    cluster, admins run a single command on the new node, pointing it to
    the original server and passing through a secure token.
  • Automatic certificate generation: All of the certificates
    needed to establish TLS between the Kubernetes masters and nodes are
    automatically created when a cluster is launched. Encryption keys for
    service accounts are also automatically created.

Rancher Labs is simultaneously releasing K3s with support for x86_64,
ARM64 and ARMv7 architectures, making it flexible enough to work across
any edge infrastructure. In addition to edge use cases, Rancher
anticipates K3s will appeal to any users looking for a simple way to
deploy lightweight distribution of Kubernetes. During early previews,
many users found it especially useful for CI/CD environments, embedded
systems and local Kubernetes deployments.

“With more than 30,000 wind turbines in production, we are excited to
see the creation of K3s, which can potentially allow us to deploy
Kubernetes clusters on thousands of edge locations,” said Wei Zhang, VP
of technology at Goldwind Smart Energy, the world’s second largest wind
turbine manufacturer.

Developers who are interested in downloading, installing and playing
with this new lightweight Kubernetes distribution should visit https://k3s.io
or follow the project on https://github.com/rancher/k3s

Enterprises who need assistance in deploying and managing K3s can
contact info@rancher.com.

Partner Quotes

“Arm’s commitment to enabling partner innovation is critical as we work
to build the next-generation cloud to edge infrastructure. Our ongoing
collaboration with Rancher, a leader in Kubernetes innovation,
underscores the progress of the cloud native container ecosystem in
supporting cloud data center and edge use cases based on Arm Neoverse™
Kevin Ryan, Senior Director of Software Ecosystem
Development, Infrastructure Line of Business, Arm

“Kubernetes is not only the de-facto control plane for centralized cloud
workloads, but increasingly a range of applications in wildly diverse
environments. Rancher’s K3s project addresses one of the main challenges
to extending the benefits of Kubernetes to the edge by stripping down
the resource footprint, while providing the same production-grade
experience. Kudos to the Rancher team for leading cloud native’s ‘go
anywhere’ charge!”
Zac Smith, CEO at Packet

“We’ve seen rapidly increasing demand from businesses seeking to deploy
distributed, Kubernetes-based applications to the edge. The launch of
Rancher Labs’ K3s, supported on Hivecell hardware, will enable
production workloads in unattended, resource-constrained, remote IoT
environments. Our team at Ricker Lyman Robotic is excited to collaborate
with Rancher Labs on the release of the K3s project!”
Ricker, CEO, Ricker Lyman Robotic

Supporting Resources

About Rancher Labs

Rancher Labs builds innovative, open source software for enterprises
leveraging containers and Kubernetes to accelerate software development
and improve IT operations. The flagship Rancher
container management platform allows users to easily manage all aspects
of running Kubernetes in production, on any infrastructure. RancherOS
is a simplified Linux distribution built from containers for running
containers. For additional information, visit www.rancher.com.


Eleni Laughlin, Mindshare PR

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