December 4, 2023

Last week, Amazon Web Services announce Amazon EKS Anywhere trial offers bare metal servers. This extends the ability to run EKS Anywhere productivity clusters on both vSphere and physical servers.

Amazon EKS Anywhere is an official Kubernetes distribution from AWS that runs Amazon EKS, the managed Kubernetes service in the cloud. Customers can target EKS for workloads in the cloud and EKS Anywhere for hybrid workloads running in the enterprise data center or on the edge.

Announced in September 2021, EKS Anywhere announced support for VMware vSphere-based environments to run production workloads. With the addition of metal servers, customers can now deploy EKS Anywhere productivity clusters locally without the need for virtualization overhead.

Amazon EKS Anywhere is available as free, open source software that customers can download and install on their existing devices and run within their own data centers. However, customers with AWS Enterprise Support subscriptions can purchase Amazon EKS Anywhere Support Subscription at $24,000 per set per year.

Deploying and managing Kubernetes on bare metal is not as easy as providing a pool in the cloud. Customers are responsible for the entire package, including the operating system, storage, and network infrastructure. They must manage the distribution of the operating system and Kubernetes through upgrades, patches, and regular updates.

To provide the mineral infrastructure, AWS depends on it Tinkerbell, an open source project founded by Packet, which is now part of Equinix. Tinkerbell is a modern, containerized provisioning tool that leverages Docker and iPXE to provision metallic infrastructure. EKS Anywhere takes advantage of Tinkerbell to take bare metal infrastructure to a point where Kubernetes can be installed.

Amazon EKS Anywhere supports two operating systems on metal servers – bottle rocket And Ubuntu. Bottlerocket is an open source Linux-based operating system from Amazon that is optimized to run containerized workloads. It is a lightweight and low maintenance operating system with less space resulting in lower maintenance costs. Amazon recommends running EKS Anywhere bare metal sets on the Bottlerocket.

Although customers can deploy EKS Anywhere on public devices, AWS has partnered with several OEMs such as Dell, HPE, and Lenovo to test and validate EKS Anywhere on specific server models. This partnership gives customers a suite of hardware and software that is validated to run containerized workloads on metal in production environments.

EKS Anywhere kits can operate in a completely isolated environment in air gap mode. Those groups that are accessible from the Internet can be linked to the EKS Console, a central monitoring environment available within the AWS Cloud, providing monitoring capabilities.

As the Kubernetes production suites run additional software beyond the base distribution, Amazon has announced a set of open source components that are compatible with EKA Anywhere. Classified as EKS Anywhere formatted packages, these components extend the core functionality of Kubernetes based on rigorously validated software by Amazon. metaland local load balancer and portan open source container registry, are the two components currently available through coordinator packages.

Amazon EKS Anywhere competes with Anthos, Red Hat OpenShift, VMware Tanzania, SUSE RKE2, Spectro Cloud’s Palette, and other distributions targeting hybrid deployments.

With EKS Anywhere’s bare-metal support, AWS wants to reduce reliance on VMware to enable enterprise customers to deploy Kubernetes directly to physical servers running within the datacenter and at the edge.

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