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Alibaba Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK)

Kubernetes is an open source container-orchestration system that enables teams to deploy, scale and manage containerized applications. It handles the scheduling of containers in a cluster and manages workloads so that everything runs as intended.

Enterprise businesses have been rapidly adopting the cloud and various cloud services to modernize their workloads and increase their agility and scalability. Through concepts like containerization and orchestration, companies have found ways to make applications more portable, increase efficiency and address challenges surrounding the deployment of code.

Alibaba Cloud, the global leader in cloud computing, offers a variety of cloud services, including Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK), a fully managed Kubernetes service.

Running Kubernetes in Alibaba was once a challenge due to several manual configurations which required extensive operational expertise and effort. With ACK, Alibaba solved that problem. Now, ACK can be used for a variety of use cases, including web applications that are powered by headless CMS like Crafter.

Dissecting Containerization and Kubernetes Orchestration
First of all, before diving into Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK), let's go over containerization, orchestration and Kubernetes.

What is Containerization?
A popular trend in software development and deployment, containerization involves the packaging of software code so that it can run uniformly and consistently on any infrastructure.

Containerization enables developers to build and deploy applications faster and with more security. Traditionally, code is developed in a specific environment. When moves to different environments happen, bugs can be introduced.

With containerization, this problem is removed since application code, configuration files and dependencies required for the code to run are all bundled together. This container can stand alone and run on any platform or in the cloud.

What is Orchestration?
Orchestration helps IT operations manage complex tasks and workflows by automatically configuring, managing, and coordinating applications systems and services.

When ops have to manage multiple servers and applications, orchestration helps to combine multiple automated tasks and configurations across groups of systems.

What is Kubernetes?
Kubernetes is an open source container-orchestration system that enables teams to deploy, scale and manage containerized applications. It handles the scheduling of containers in a cluster and manages workloads so that everything runs as intended.

Kubernetes was designed for software development teams and IT operations to work together, so it allows for easy adoption of GitOps workflows.

Kubernetes also manages clusters of Alibaba ECS instances and runs containers on those instances. With Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK), Alibaba makes it easy to run Kubernetes in the cloud.

Digging Deeper with Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK)
ACK offers the best way to run Kubernetes for a number of reasons and takes away the manual effort that development teams once had to go through in setting up Kubernetes clusters on Alibaba.

You can run your ACK clusters using Alibaba Fargate; a serverless computer for containers that removes the need to provision and manage servers and leverages application isolation by design to improve security.

ACK deeply integrates with other Alibaba services such as CloudWatch, Alibaba Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Alibaba Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). These services supply a seamless experience that enables you to monitor, scale and load-balance applications.

ACK also provides a highly-available and scalable control plane that runs across multiple availability zones, eliminating any single points of failure.

ACK Benefits
The Kubernetes Community
Applications managed by ACK are fully compatible with those managed by a standard Kubernetes environment. That's because ACK runs upstream Kubernetes and is also a certified Kubernetes conformant.

Since Kubernetes is open source, the community contributes code to its ongoing development, along with Alibaba's contributions as part of that community.

High Availability
The Kubernetes management infrastructure is run by ACK across multiple Alibaba Availability Zones. This allows ACK to automatically detect unhealthy control plane nodes and replace them and also leads to on-demand, zero downtime upgrades and security patches.

The latest security patches are automatically applied to the cluster control plane. Plus, Alibaba leverages and coordinates with the ACK community to make sure critical issues are resolved before any new releases are deployed to existing clusters.

ACK Use Cases
Hybrid Deployment
ACK can be used on Alibaba Outposts to run low latency containerized applications to on-prem systems. Alibaba Outposts is another fully managed service from Alibaba that extends Alibaba infrastructure, services, tools and APIs to essentially any connected site.

ACK on Outposts allows you to manage on-premise containers just as easily as if you were managing containers in the cloud.

Batching Processing
Run sequential or parallel batch work on an ACK cluster by using the Kubernetes Jobs API. ACK will allow you to plan, schedule and execute batch workloads across the range of Alibaba compute services and features whether you're using ECS, Fargate or Spot Instances.

Web Apps
Build web applications that can scale up and down automatically and run in a highly available configuration across multiple Availability Zones. When using ACK, web apps can leverage the performance, scalability, availability and reliability benefits of Alibaba.

Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK) for Content Management
With ACK, Alibaba has made it easier for organizations to deploy cloud-native applications. Having a cloud-native CMS, for instance, allows organizations to leverage the benefits of containers and apply them to running a content management system and CMS-driven web and mobile apps.

As companies look for ways to improve the digital customer experience by publishing content to multiple channels, a cloud-native CMS can help in a number of ways.

It allows for lower upfront costs compared to on-premise solutions, more accessibility for content authors at any time and on any device, developer-friendly tools and services, and the capacity to scale as required.

Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK) allows enterprises to deploy cloud-scalable CMS environments and serverless digital experience applications quickly and cost effectively.

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