This post will depict the general architecture of CSE and how it achieves its purpose.

Before going into the various CSE Requirements, Installation & Configuration details, I think it’s important to explain the Architecture of all the components that constitute this Solution and what it means for a Service Provider and a Tenant/End User.

The overall goal of CSE is to provide the following use-cases:

Kubernetes as a Service

vCloud Director & Container Service Extension (CSE) vCloud Director & Container Service Extension (CSE)

Basically a Service Provider will offer compute resources to tenants secured through a multitenant IaaS vCloud Director instance, and tenants/end users will have the ability to deploy & manage their kubernetes clusters in a self service fashion.

As you can see in the above picture, we listed some very basic & simple operations to manage the lifecycle of a cluster (create, list, update, delete, commonly known as CRUD operations).

Once their cluster(s) is/are available, the developers will go back to their native kubernetes tooling and leverage the cloud provider resources.

so the initial question that comes to mind is:

What are the components required for building a Kubernetes cluster ?

From the kubernetes website we found a basic diagram depicting what a kubernetes cluster looks like. This will help understanding all the components CSE should provide/manage to simplify the Tenants/End Users kubernetes usage on a cloud platform.

Kubernetes Overview
This is a very simplistic view, so let’s take the opportunity to describe the components in a bit more detail and how most common deployments may look like.

Kubernetes has 3 major components:

  • etcd (Distributed key/value store)
  • kubernetes master (Controller Manager, Scheduler and API Server)
  • kubernetes worker nodes (kubelet, proxy and runtime)

I’m not going to describe in detail what each of them do, but you can find the additional information on the Kubernetes components overview page.

So to summarize most deployments will look like these 2 generic nodes.

Kubernetes Overview

Obviously various deployment models exist depending on the cluster requirements such as, scale, operations, etc. They can differ, but this seems to be a pretty common model, the other main alternative option would be to keep the etcd cluster decoupled from the master nodes.

If we try to setup a fully resilient kubernetes cluster in a vCloud Director context this would probably look like this.

Kubernetes Overview

CSE Conceptual Architecture

So now that we understand what a kubernetes cluster is, we can focus on how CSE interacts with vCloud Director to make this service possible.

vCloud Director & CSE

We are going to keep things simple here and explain how CSE achieves it’s aims. This was briefly mentioned in the previous post, so let’s clarify/detail some aspects.

First, it requires a way to extend the vCloud Director capabilities so that anyone can access the new service.

This is done by extending the public vCloud API (Check Extending VMware vCloud® API with vCloud Extensibility Framework for additional information)

Note: Extending the vCloud API requires an AMQP broker.

This will obviously expose new capabilities to any new Tenant/Consumer of the vCloud Director instance.

Second, it requires a way to deploy container hosts & install / configure kubernetes

CSE is exposed on top of the vCloud API, which means it has now the ability to specify what kind of tasks/operations the service will need to offer in a programatic fashion.

Those tasks could be as simple as:

  • Create a new kubernetes cluster
  • List the kubernetes clusters
  • Update a kubernetes cluster (Scale Out/In and/or Up/Down for example)
  • Delete a kubernetes cluster

We now need to decouple those tasks in smaller usable entities that match those which vCloud Director/vSphere can manage.

Obvious things we need:

  • A VM for each node - vCloud Director covers this requirement
  • A way to customize the VM (Operating System, credentials, networking, etc) - vCloud Director covers this requirement
  • A way to customize the guest operating system applications, such as adding kubernetes components, docker, etc. - CSE covers this requirement
  • A way to customize configuration for the kubernetes environment - CSE covers this requirement

Note: I will describe how each of these steps are actually implemented in related blog posts.

Third, it requires a simple & easy way to let a tenant/consumer manage the lifecycle of the kubernetes cluster. API is great for automation, but for Admin/DevOps people, a CLI is a welcome addition.

CSE comes with a vcd-cli extension that leverages the public CSE API into basic administrative/management lifecycle commands to control/operate the kubernetes cluster.

So now we have it, Kubernetes as a Service on top of a multitenant VMware IAAS Platform. (vCloud Director)

This is how the architecture looks with the current version of the service at the time of writing this blog post.

CSE Architecture Overview

Next blog post we will go into the Service Provider Requirements.