Google Cloud's Kubernetes Support for Windows Containers is here

Google | February 04, 2020

  • The GKE version 1.16.4 is now in beta version and can run Windows and Linux containers simultaneously in the same cluster

  • This release also includes several other features aimed at helping you meet the security, scalability, integration and management needs of your Windows Server containers.

  • Google also offers access to private clusters via its Virtual Private Cloud service.



The Google Kubernetes Engine in the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is now previewing Kubernetes orchestration support for Windows Server containers. The GKE version 1.16.4 is now in the beta version and can run Windows and Linux containers simultaneously in the same cluster.
 

Kubernetes was originally developed and designed by engineers at Google and was one of the early contributors to Linux container technology, preventing enterprise applications running on Windows Server from taking advantage of its agility, speed of deployment and simplified management. Kubernetes promises to make container management easy and ubiquitous.
 

GKE is a Kubernetes-based container management solution which is top-rated by analysts and widely used by customers across a variety of industries.
 

 

"Supporting Windows on GKE is a part of our commitment to provide a first-class experience for hosting and modernizing Windows Server-based applications on Google Cloud. To this end, in the past six months, we added capabilities such as the ability to bring their own Windows Server licenses (BYOL), virtual displays, and managed services for SQL Server and Active Directory."

~ Google

 

What should you be looking forward to?

 

By running Windows Server apps as containers on Kubernetes, you get many of the benefits that Linux applications have enjoyed for years. Running your Windows Server containers on GKE can also save you on licensing costs, as you can pack many Windows Server containers on each Windows node.
 

This release also includes several other features aimed at helping you meet the security, scalability, integration and management needs of your Windows Server containers. Some highlights include:
 

 

• Private clusters:

A security and privacy feature that allows you to restrict access to a cluster's nodes and the master from the public internetyour cluster's nodes can only be accessed from within a trusted Google Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).

• Node Auto Upgrades:

A feature that reduces the management overhead, provides ease of use and better security by automatically upgrading GKE nodes on your behalf. Make sure you build your container images using the Docker ‘multi-arch’ feature to avoid any version mismatch issues between the node OS version and the base container image.

• Regional clusters:

An availability and reliability feature that allows you to create a multi-master, highly-available Kubernetes cluster that spreads both the control plane and the nodes across multiple zones in the same region. This provides increased control plane uptime of 99.95% (up from 99.5%) and zero-downtime upgrades.

• Support for Group Managed Service Accounts

gMSA is a type of Active Directory account that provides automatic password management, simplified service principal name (SPN) management, etc. for multiple servers. gMSAs are supported by Google Cloud’s Managed Microsoft Active Directory Service for easier administration.

Choice of Microsoft Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) or Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) servicing channels, allowing you to choose the version that best fits your support and feature requirements.
 

"Some Kubernetes features and GKE features aren't supported, however, and a Windows Server node requires more resources than a typical Linux node."
 

For Kubernetes' support in nodes across multiple zones in the same region, Google endorsed the use of various GKE support options such as node auto-upgrades and the use of a regional clusters feature. Developers can also use Group Managed Service Accounts for automatic password management, which is part of the Google Cloud Platform's Managed Service for Active Directory, which reached the preview stage back in August. Google also offers access to private clusters via its Virtual Private Cloud service.
 

Originally designed for use with Linux containers in an OS virtualization approach, Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration solution fostered by Google. Kubernetes can be used in DevOps scenarios, such as the development and hosting of applications on various infrastructure without incurring specific hardware or software conflicts.
 

Read More: Google Cloud Adds Service Mesh to Anthos.

What are Google's preview customers saying?

Google has been piloting Windows Server container support in GKE for several months with its preview customers who have been impressed by GKE’s performance, reliability, and security, as well as differentiated features such as automated setup and configuration for easier cluster management.

"What used to take us weeks to set up and configure, now takes a few minutes. Besides saving time, features like autoscaling, high-availability, Stackdriver Logging and Monitoring are already baked in. Windows in GKE gives us the same scale, reliability, and ease of management that we have come to expect from running Linux in GKE."

~ Premkumar Masilamani, Cloud Architect, Helix RE

 


Helix RE recently switched from setting up and running Windows Kubernetes clusters manually to using GKE.
 

Other cloud service providers like Microsoft also provide Kubernetes as a service. Its Azure Kubernetes Service has support for both Windows and Linux containers. Amazon's Elastic Kubernetes Service also has support for Windows and Linux containers.

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