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Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Doubles Down on Kubernetes with Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes

The News: Oracle announced Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes introducing new features to help simplify operations for enterprise-scale Kubernetes deployments. For more information on the recent announcements, see the full Press Release here.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Doubles Down on Kubernetes with Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes

Analyst Take: Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE) is a cloud-based container orchestration service that enables users to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes provides several benefits to organizations looking to migrate their workloads to the cloud. OKE is a fully managed Kubernetes service that simplifies the deployment and management of containerized applications.

The latest updates to Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes include the addition of virtual nodes to its managed Kubernetes service to let enterprises run development operations without having to manage any infrastructure. Nodes, which are one of the most fundamental building blocks of Kubernetes, are physical or virtual machines that make up clusters that in turn run Kubernetes and the containers managed by that particular instance of the orchestration system. Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes’ new virtual nodes, announced last year, eliminate the operational overhead of managing, scaling, upgrading, and troubleshooting worker nodes’ infrastructure (servers).

OCI advocates that virtual nodes can take away all responsibilities from enterprises and can scale automatically as required. This could result in cost savings for many enterprises depending on the scale of their development operations as well as deployment scenarios.

Recent Updates to Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes: What’s New

The key highlights of the recent updates to Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes include:

Virtual Nodes: With the addition of virtual nodes, Oracle seeks to provide a serverless Kubernetes experience by giving organizations the ability to run Kubernetes-based applications at scale. Virtual Nodes ensure reliable operations, leaving customers free to focus on their workloads and ensuring they can optimize the cost of running Kubernetes-based workloads at scale.

Add-Ons Lifecycle Management (ALM): Add-ons Lifecycle Management was developed to provide organizations with increased flexibility as it relates to the installation and configuration of auxiliary software. Add-Ons can manage the full lifecycle of this software, from initial setup and deployment through ongoing upgrades, patching, and more, and also provides access to CoreDNS and kube-proxy as well as a growing portfolio of optional software operators such as Kubernetes dashboard, Oracle Database, Oracle WebLogic, and more.

Workload Identity: The Workload Identity update enables organizations to both improve security posture overall as well as lower management overhead with pod-level identity and access management controls. Additional enhancements include increasing the default setting for newly created clusters so they can hold more nodes. We’ll support preemptible instances soon, which will enable a 50 percent discount from the on-demand cost of VMs. The API server has financially backed SLAs, as well as their worker nodes.

Multi-cluster Applications: One of the major updates to Oracle’s Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes is the introduction of Multi-cluster Applications. These allow users to manage a single application across multiple Kubernetes clusters. With them, users can achieve high availability and disaster recovery by deploying applications across multiple regions or availability domains. Additionally, Multi-cluster Applications can simplify management of complex applications that require multiple clusters by providing a unified view of all the clusters.

OCI Shows Commitment to Providing Best Kubernetes Cloud Value

From our view, OCI strengthened the value proposition for its overall Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes by providing detailed Kubernetes cloud cost comparison data. Today, all the hyperscalers, including OCI, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), offer a managed Kubernetes (K8s) service targeted at decreasing the time, cost, and operational burden of managing the many intricacies of K8s infrastructure.

Of note, all services automatically manage the availability and scalability of the Kubernetes control plane nodes and offer varying levels of control for the worker nodes, also known as K8s data plane. While not identical, each service enables organizations to configure their clusters using the following type of worker nodes:

  • Managed: Cloud compute instances that you configure and manage as needed
  • Serverless: The cloud service takes on full management of the worker nodes, including configuring, upgrading, scaling, and so on.

Typically, customers are choosing the serverless option, offloading ongoing operations to the service, so they can focus on improving business outcomes, instead of managing infrastructure.

Calculating Kubernetes Cloud Costs: EKS, AKS, GKE, and OKE

All four managed Kubernetes services have no minimum fees, no upfront commitments required, and organizations pay only for the underlying resources used and any applicable management fees. The table below shows the lowest rates published for serverless (virtual) and on-demand managed nodes for Kubernetes capabilities using x86-based processors with Linux images. Because pricing for AWS, Azure, and GCP services varies widely by region, the lowest regional rates published are used to show each provider in its best light for this comparison. We find that the OCI Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes rates are notably lower for nearly every metric.

We believe OCI’s detailed cost comparison of competing Kubernetes cloud services merits extra attention as it sharpens why OCI is offering cost advantages to customers and prospects based on published public-facing information available to all decision-makers to make their own cost calculation conclusions.

These published rates have the following details:

  • All calculations use prices published as of March 1, 2023. Of key importance, OCI has attempted to use “apples-to-apples” comparisons as much as possible in terms of processor configurations (e.g., manufacturer, type, generation, speed, memory, bandwidth, and so on).
  • Common cloud industry practice is to define compute instances based on the number of virtual CPUs (vCPUs) they include. Each vCPU provides the capacity for one thread of runs. A vCPU doesn’t provide a whole physical compute core but is instead part of a core. In contrast, Oracle’s x86 Compute shapes use OCPUs, which equate to physical CPU cores, each of which provides for two threads. As a result, two vCPUs on AWS, Azure, or GCP are comparable to one OCPU on OCI.
  • OCI observes that AKS offers a free tier for getting started but recommends the standard tier for all mission critical, at scale, or production workloads, so OCI used standard tier pricing in the comparisons.
  • The GKE free tier offers a free tier which provides $74.40 in monthly credits, the equivalent of one free cluster per month ($0.10 per hour for 24 hours a day, for 31 days), which OCI applied in the comparisons.

Lowest Published Rates for Kubernetes with serverless (virtual) nodes

Caution: AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Prices Vary Widely by Region

Prices for Amazon EKS with AWS Fargate (for serverless) or without Fargate (for managed nodes) vary widely across AWS regions and can be much higher than in the US East region in northern Virginia. The following examples show the higher CPU costs across different regions:

  • 15% higher in US West, N. California (serverless), 16% higher (managed)
  • 15% higher in Frankfurt (serverless), 19% higher (managed)
  • 25% higher in Tokyo (serverless), 29% higher (managed)
  • 35% higher in Zurich (serverless), 56% higher (managed)
  • 72% higher in São Paulo (serverless), 59% higher (managed)

Likewise, CPU prices for AKS virtual nodes in many other Microsoft Azure regions are substantially higher than in East US.

  • 15% higher in West US (serverless), 17% higher (managed)
  • 25% higher in Japan East (serverless), 30% higher (managed)
  • 27% higher in Switzerland North (serverless), 43% higher (managed)
  • 50% higher in Germany North (serverless), 57% higher (managed)
  • 100% higher in Brazil South (serverless), 60% higher (managed)

Similarly, CPU prices for GKE Autopilot in other Google Cloud regions can be much higher than their lowest rates in South Carolina.

  • 20% higher in Los Angeles (serverless), 20% higher (managed)
  • 28% higher in Tokyo (serverless), 28% higher (managed)
  • 29% higher in Frankfurt (serverless), 29% higher (managed)
  • 40% higher in Zurich (serverless), 40% higher (managed)
  • 59% higher in Sao Paulo (serverless), 59% higher (managed)

In contrast, we find that OCI offers consistent pricing and availability for all services, including Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes virtual nodes, across all global regions. This predictability can make it easier for K8s cloud services decision-makers to plan and budget for rapid geographic expansion regardless of where they need to consume the cloud services.

OCI also deftly details cloud cost formulas for comparing K8s cloud costs for common use case scenarios such as K8s with serverless (virtual) nodes and K8s with managed nodes as well as the option of preemptible instances. From our view, OCI delivers objective cost advantages over rivals as cost differences can be even greater in many other public cloud regions worldwide where Oracle’s rivals have CPU prices higher than their lowest rates, including up to 50% in some cases. As such, we find that decision makers have solid, objective data to make informed decisions, including evaluating OCI cost advantages, as they look to massively scale Kubernetes while saving on cloud costs and overall total cost of ownership.

Looking Ahead: OCI Doubles Down on Kubernetes

To reiterate, Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes is a cloud-based container orchestration service that offers several benefits to organizations looking to migrate their workloads to the cloud. Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes is designed to provide scalability, availability, cost savings, security, integration with OCI, and DevOps capabilities. From our view, these benefits can make Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes a highly competitive choice for organizations that want to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications on the cloud. While not as widely deployed as alternatives from Red Hat, SUSE, VMware and the likes of AWS and Azure, we see Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes as representing a compelling alternative for customers who plan to leverage Oracle’s public cloud offering extensively.

In conclusion, we believe Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes now has updates key to enhancing the service’s capabilities and make it easier for users to deploy and manage Kubernetes workloads. For instance, the introduction of Multi-cluster Applications and Serverless Kubernetes are two significant updates that simplify the management of complex applications and reduce operational overhead. The addition of enhanced security features further improves the service’s flexibility, scalability, and security. When customers can couple these enhancements with a very competitive price point, we envision Oracle will get traction and attain more inroads through its updated offering.

Disclosure: Futurum Research is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of Futurum Research as a whole.

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Author Information

Ron is an experienced, customer-focused research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets, working with businesses to drive consistent revenue and sales growth.

He is a recognized authority at tracking the evolution of and identifying the key disruptive trends within the service enablement ecosystem, including a wide range of topics across software and services, infrastructure, 5G communications, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics, security, cloud computing, revenue management, and regulatory issues.

Prior to his work with The Futurum Group, Ron worked with GlobalData Technology creating syndicated and custom research across a wide variety of technical fields. His work with Current Analysis focused on the broadband and service provider infrastructure markets.

Ron holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from University of Nevada — Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Arts in political science/government from William and Mary.

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