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Characterizing and Contrasting Container Orchestrators | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #Containers

There is no one perfect solution

Admiral Calcote - also known as Lee Calcote (@lcalcote) or the Ginger Geek to his friends - gave a presentation entitled Characterizing and Contrasting Container Orchestrators at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference.

Okay, he isn't really an admiral - nor does anyone call him that - but he used the title admiral to describe what container orchestrators do, relating it to an admiral directing a fleet of container ships. You could also say that they are like the conductor of an orchestra, directing the individuals to work together as a group toward a common goal while each musician is still able to play their own instrument.

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Lee is the Head of Technology Strategy at SolarWinds, and for his talk, he walked through four open-source container orchestrators: Nomad, Swarm, Kubernetes, and Mesos-Marathon.

He emphasized the obvious - there is no one perfect solution. Each organization is different, so for each solution, he looked at:

  • Genesis and purpose
  • Support and momentum
  • Host and service discovery
  • Scheduling
  • Modularity and extensibility
  • Updates and maintenance
  • Health monitoring
  • Networking and load balancing
  • Secrets management
  • High availability and scale

Lee noted that while there are many core capabilities, any orchestrator must have cluster management and scheduling.

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He then dove deeper into the four solutions. Below are summaries (the full talk is chalked full of information and is online here):

Nomad

  • Designed for both long-lived and short-lived batch processing workloads
  • Cluster manager with declarative job specifications
  • Ensures constraints are satisfied and resource utilization is optimized by efficient task packing
  • Supports all major OSs and workloads
  • Written in Go and with a Unix philosophy
  • Host discovery: Gossip protocol - Serf is used; servers advertise full set of Nomad servers to clients; creating federated clusters is simple
  • Service discovery: Integrates with Consul
  • Scheduling: two distinct phases - feasibility checking and ranking; optimistically concurrent; three scheduler types when creating jobs
  • Uses task drivers to execute a task and provide resource isolation, but it does not support pluggable task drivers
  • Built for managing multiple clusters/cluster federation

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Docker Swarm 1.12

  • Simple and easy to setup
  • Architecture is not as complex as Kubernetes and Mesos
  • Written in Go - lightweight, modular, and extensible
  • Strong community support
  • Host discovery: used in the formation of clusters by the Manager to discover Nodes (hosts); pull model - worker checks-in with the Manager
  • Service discovery: Embedded DNS and round robin load-balancing
  • Scheduler is pluggable and is a combination of strategies and filters/constraints
  • Ability to remove "batteries"
  • Rolling updates are supported
  • Managers may be deployed in a highly-available configuration, but does not support multiple failure isolation regions or federation

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Kubernetes

  • An opinionated framework for building distributed systems
  • Written in Go and is lightweight, modular, and extensible
  • Led by Google, Red Hat, and others
  • Young - about two-years-old
  • Robust documentation and community
  • Scheduling is handled by kube-scheduler
  • Pluggable architecture and an extensible platform
  • Choice of: database for service discovery or network driver and container runtime
  • Supports rolling back deployments, automating deployments and rolling updating applications
  • Inherent load balancing
  • Uses Pods, an atomic unit of scheduling. Each pod has its own IP address, no NAT required, and intra-pod communication via localhost

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Mesos-Marathon

  • Mesos is a distributed systems kernel
  • Mesos has been around the longest (since 2009)
  • Mesos is written in C++
  • Marathon is a framework that runs on top of Mesos
  • Mesos is used by Twitter, AirBnB, eBay, Apple, Cisco, and Yodle
  • Marathon is used by Verizon and Samsung
  • Mesos-DNS generates an SRV record for each Mesos task
  • Marathon ensures that all dynamically assigned ports are unique

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Wrapping up, Lee provided the following overview comparing the different container orchestration solutions.

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Lee packed a tremendous amount of information into his talk. If you use containers, his talk is worth your time and is available online here. If you missed any of the other 30-minute long presentations from All Day DevOps, they are easy to find and available free-of-charge here.  Finally, be sure to register you and the rest of your team for the 2017 All Day DevOps conference here.  This year's event will offer 96 practitioner-led sessions (no vendor pitches allowed).  It's all free and online on October 24th.

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