The Best Kubernetes Tools for Your Cloud Native Journey

kubernetes Tools

Hi , In today’s dynamic landscape, navigating through over 450 Kubernetes Certified Service Providers and a multitude of Kubernetes Certified distributions can be a formidable challenge.

This blog aims to simplify this process by presenting a carefully curated list of the Most used and Popular Kubernetes tools in 2023

What is Kubernetes ?

Kubernetes

Kubernetes, also referred to as “kube” or “k8s,” is software that automatically manages, scales, and maintains multi-container workloads in desired states.

Modern software is increasingly run as fleets of containers, sometimes called microservices. A complete application may comprise many containers, all needing to work together in specific ways. Kubernetes is software that turns a collection of physical or virtual hosts (servers) into a platform that:

  • Hosts containerized workloads, providing them with compute, storage, and network resources, and
  • Automatically manages large numbers of containerized applications — keeping them healthy and available by adapting to changes and challenges

Why use Kubernetes?

One of the benefits of Kubernetes is that it makes building and running complex applications much simpler. Here’s a handful of the many Kubernetes features:

  • Standard services like local DNS and basic load-balancing that most applications need, and are easy to use.
  • Standard behaviors (e.g., restart this container if it dies) that are easy to invoke, and do most of the work of keeping applications running, available, and performant.
  • A standard set of abstract “objects” (called things like “pods,” “replicasets,” and “deployments”) that wrap around containers and make it easy to build configurations around collections of containers.
  • A standard API that applications can call to easily enable more sophisticated behaviors, making it much easier to create applications that manage other applications.

The simple answer to “what is Kubernetes used for” is that it saves developers and operators a great deal of time and effort, and lets them focus on building features for their applications, instead of figuring out and implementing ways to keep their applications running well, at scale.

By keeping applications running despite challenges (e.g., failed servers, crashed containers, traffic spikes, etc.) Kubernetes also reduces business impacts, reduces the need for fire drills to bring broken applications back online, and protects against other liabilities, like the costs of failing to comply with Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

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Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD)

$395 $316


  • Upon registration, you have ONE YEAR to schedule and complete the exam.
  • The CKA exam is conducted online and remotely proctored.
  • To pass the exam, you must achieve a score of 66% or higher.
  • The CKAD Certification remains valid for a period of 3 years.
  • You are allowed a maximum of 2 attempts to take the test. However, if you miss a scheduled exam for any reason, your second attempt will be invalidated.
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Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)

$395 $316



  • Upon registration, you have ONE YEAR to schedule and complete the exam.
  • The CKA exam is conducted online and remotely proctored.
  • To pass the exam, you must achieve a score of 66% or higher.
  • The CKA Certification remains valid for a period of 3 years.
  • You are allowed a maximum of 2 attempts to take the test. However, if you miss a scheduled exam for any reason, your second attempt will be invalidated.
  • Free access to killer.sh for the CKA practice exam.


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Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS)

$395 $316



  • Upon registration, you have ONE YEAR to schedule and complete the exam.
  • The CKA exam is conducted online and remotely proctored.
  • To pass the exam, you must achieve a score of 67% or higher.
  • The CKS Certification remains valid for a period of 2 years.
  • You are allowed a maximum of 2 attempts to take the test. However, if you miss a scheduled exam for any reason, your second attempt will be invalidated.
  • Free access to killer.sh for the CKS practice exam.


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Check our last updated Kubernetes Exam Guides (CKAD , CKA , CKS) :

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Kubernetes Container Registry

Before we talk about container registries, we need to understand three related concepts:

  • Container: A container is a way to run a program in a sandboxed environment. This means that the program is isolated from the rest of the system, so it can’t affect other programs or the operating system itself.
  • Image: An image is a template for creating containers. It contains everything that a container needs to run, such as the program code, libraries, and system settings.
  • Repository: A repository is a place to store images. It can be a local directory on your computer, or it can be a remote repository on a server.
  • Registry: A registry is a central repository for images. It can be used to store images for a single project, or for all of the projects in an organization.

So Container registries are like libraries for containers. They store and provide the container images that developers need to run their applications.

Tool Name
Description
JFrog Kubernetes
JFrog
JFrog is revolutionizing the software world with the practice of Continuous Update, with a speed and continuity that forever changes the way organizations manage and release software.
cloud.google.com/container-registryGoogle Container Registry
Google Container Registry (GCR) is a secure, private Docker repository storage on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). It is a highly scalable and reliable registry that can be used to store and manage container images for your cloud native applications.

GCR is integrated with other GCP services, such as Kubernetes Engine and Cloud Build, making it easy to deploy and manage your containerized applications.
harbor KubernetesHarborAn open source trusted cloud native registry project that stores, signs, and scans content.

Kubernetes Container Runtime

Containers are like little boxes that can hold everything an application needs to run, including its code, libraries, and runtime environment. They’re similar to virtual machines, but they’re more lightweight and efficient, because they share the operating system with other containers on the same host machine.

The container runtime is the software that starts and runs containers. It provides the resources that containers need to run, such as memory, CPU, and storage. Without a container runtime, you can’t run containers.

Tool Name
Description
containerd is a container runtime that manages the lifecycle of a container on a physical or virtual machine (a host). It creates, starts, stops, and destroys containers. It can also pull container images from container registries, mount storage, and enable networking for a container. containerd
containerd is a container runtime that manages the lifecycle of a container on a physical or virtual machine (a host). It creates, starts, stops, and destroys containers. It can also pull container images from container registries, mount storage, and enable networking for a container.
cri-o KubernetesCRI-O

Open Container Initiative-based implementation of Kubernetes Container Runtime Interface
g-visor KubernetesgVisor
gVisor is a sandboxed container runtime that provides a secure and isolated environment for running containerized applications. It was created by Google and released as open-source software in 2018.

gVisor works by creating a separate userland environment for each container.
This environment is isolated from the host operating system and other containers. This isolation helps to protect the host operating system and other containers from malicious code and exploits.

Kubernetes Cluster Management

Cluster management for Kubernetes is the process of managing a group of Kubernetes clusters. This includes tasks such as:

  • Provisioning and deprovisioning clusters: Creating and destroying clusters as needed.
  • Upgrading clusters: Keeping clusters up to date with the latest versions of Kubernetes and other software.
  • Monitoring clusters: Collecting and analyzing metrics and logs from clusters to identify and resolve problems.
  • Scaling clusters: Adding or removing nodes from clusters to meet changing demand.
  • Securing clusters: Configuring and managing security settings for clusters.
Tool Name
Description
kubeadmKubeadmA tool for bootstrapping Kubernetes clusters.
KOPS kubernetes
kops
A tool for managing Kubernetes clusters on AWS , GCP and Azure in Alpha
RancherRancher
Complete container management platform
kubesprayKubeSprayDeploy a Production Ready Kubernetes Cluster

Kubernetes Managed Services

Managed Kubernetes services are cloud-based services that provide a fully managed Kubernetes environment. This means that the cloud provider takes care of all the tasks involved in setting up, managing, and maintaining the Kubernetes cluster, so you can focus on developing and running your applications.

Tool Name
Description
GKE KubernetesGoogle Kubernetes Engine (GKE)Google Kubernetes Engine, often referred to as GKE, is a managed Kubernetes service offered by Google Cloud. Kubernetes, the underlying technology, is an open-source container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.

GKE takes this powerful technology and simplifies it, making it accessible to businesses of all sizes.
EKS KubernetesAmazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)
Amazon EKS is a managed Kubernetes service that makes it easy to run Kubernetes on AWS.

It eliminates the need to install, operate, and maintain your own Kubernetes control plane. EKS provides a high-availability, scalable, and secure Kubernetes environment.
AKS KubernetesAzure Kubernetes Service (AKS)Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) simplifies deploying a managed Kubernetes cluster in Azure by offloading the operational overhead to Azure. As a hosted Kubernetes service, Azure handles critical tasks, like health monitoring and maintenance.

When you create an AKS cluster, a control plane is automatically created and configured. This control plane is provided at no cost as a managed Azure resource abstracted from the user. You only pay for and manage the nodes attached to the AKS cluster.

Check my blog about Comparing the Top Three Managed Kubernetes Services : GKE, EKS, AKS

Kubernetes Automation & Configuration

Automation and configuration tools make it faster to create and set up computer resources, such as virtual machines, networks, firewall rules, and load balancers. These tools can either handle different parts of the provisioning process or control the entire process from start to finish. Most of these tools can also be integrated with other projects and products in the cloud native space.

Tool Name
Description
Terraform KubernetesTerraformTerraform as IaC tool enables you to safely and predictably create, change, and improve infrastructure. It is a source-available tool that codifies APIs into declarative configuration files that can be shared amongst team members, treated as code, edited, reviewed, and versioned.
Ansible Kubernetes
Ansible
Ansible is a radically simple IT automation platform that makes your applications and systems easier to deploy and maintain.

Automate everything from code deployment to network configuration to cloud management, in a language that approaches plain English, using SSH, with no agents to install on remote systems.

Kubernetes Secret Management

Kubernetes secret management tools help you to store and manage sensitive information, such as passwords, API keys, and certificates, in a secure way. They can help you to protect your secrets from unauthorized access and to ensure that your applications are running securely.

Tool Name
Description
Vault KubernetesVautHashiCorp Vault is a commercial secret management tool that provides a unified platform for managing all of your secrets, including passwords, API keys, and certificates.

Vault can be integrated with Kubernetes to provide secure secret management for your Kubernetes clusters and applications.
Google Secret ManagerGoogle Cloud Secret Manager
Google Cloud Secret Manager is a managed service that provides secure secret management for your Google Cloud Platform (GCP) applications.

Secret Manager can be integrated with Kubernetes to provide secure secret management for your Kubernetes clusters and applications running on GCP.

Kubernetes Package Management & Operators


Package management for Kubernetes is the process of installing, deploying, and managing Kubernetes applications in a consistent and repeatable way. Kubernetes package managers provide a number of features that make this process easier, such as:

  • Versioning: Package managers allow you to track and manage different versions of your applications. This is important for rolling back to previous versions if necessary.
  • Reusability: Package managers allow you to create reusable packages for your applications. This can save you time and effort when deploying new applications or updating existing ones.
  • Community support: Package managers often have large and active communities that can provide support and help with troubleshooting.
Tool Name
Description
HELM
Helm
Helm helps you manage Kubernetes applications — Helm Charts help you define, install, and upgrade even the most complex Kubernetes application.
KustomizeKustomizeKustomize is a native Kubernetes tool that allows you to compose Kubernetes manifests from reusable components.

It is a good choice for teams that need to manage complex Kubernetes deployments.
GlassKubeGlasskubeTurn on autopilot and deploy and manage Open Source Tools fully automated on Kubernetes. Our Open Source Glasskube Operator is the simplest and fastest way to manage all your favorite Open Source Tools and the related infrastructure components like databases, caches, and keep them up to date without manual hassle.

Alert and Monitoring

An alert and monitoring tool for Kubernetes is a tool that helps you to track the performance and health of your Kubernetes clusters and applications. It can collect metrics, such as CPU usage, memory usage, and network traffic, and generate alerts if there are any problems. This can help you to identify and resolve problems quickly, before they cause outages or other disruptions.

Alert and monitoring tools are especially important for Kubernetes because it is a complex platform with many moving parts. It can be difficult to keep track of everything manually, especially if you are running multiple clusters or applications. An alert and monitoring tool can help you to automate this process and make it easier to manage your Kubernetes environment.

Tool Name
Description
prometheus kubernetes
Prometheus
An open-source monitoring system that provides real-time monitoring and alerting for Kubernetes clusters.
Grafana kubernetesGrafanaA visualization tool that can be used to display metrics collected by Prometheus or other monitoring systems.
Datadog KubernetesDatadog
A commercial monitoring platform that provides a comprehensive set of features for monitoring Kubernetes clusters.
dynatrace KubernetesDynatrace
Another commercial monitoring platform that offers a number of features for monitoring Kubernetes clusters, including full-stack observability and AI-powered insights.

Kubernetes Logging and Tracing

Applications create log messages to tell us what they are doing and what is happening to them. Logging tools collect and store these messages so that we can see what is going on and troubleshoot problems when they occur. Logging is one of the most important tools for monitoring and managing applications.

Microservices applications are made up of many small, independent services that communicate with each other over the network. Tracing allows you to see how a request is processed by each service in the application, and how long it takes for the request to be completed.

Tool Name
Description
Fluentd KubernetesFluentdFluentd is an open-source data collector for Kubernetes. It is a powerful tool that can be used to collect logs from all nodes in a Kubernetes cluster, as well as from applications running in Kubernetes pods.

Fluentd can then be used to process and forward these logs to a variety of destinations, such as Elasticsearch, Splunk, or Amazon S3.
jaeger Tracing kubernetes
Jaeger
An open-source tracing tool that is designed to work with Kubernetes. Jaeger can help you to track the performance of your applications and identify performance bottlenecks.
open-telemetry Tracing KubernetesOpenTelemetry
OpenTelemetry (OTel) is an open-source observability framework for instrumenting, generating, collecting, and exporting telemetry data such as traces, metrics, and logs.

It is a vendor-neutral and language-agnostic project that is supported by a wide range of companies and organizations.

Troubleshooting And Debugging

Troubleshooting and debugging tools for Kubernetes are tools that can help you to identify and resolve problems with your Kubernetes clusters and applications. Kubernetes is a complex platform with many moving parts, so it can be difficult to troubleshoot problems manually.

Troubleshooting and debugging tools can help you to automate this process and make it easier to manage your Kubernetes environment.

Tool Name
Description
Kubernetes kubectl
kubectl
The official Kubernetes command-line tool. kubectl can be used to manage and troubleshoot Kubernetes clusters and applications.
K9s KubernetesK9sA CLI tool that provides a TUI (Text-based User Interface) for managing Kubernetes clusters and applications.

k9s can be helpful for troubleshooting Kubernetes problems because it allows you to visualize your cluster and applications.
lens KubernetesLensA graphical user interface (GUI) tool for managing Kubernetes clusters and applications.

Lens can also be helpful for troubleshooting Kubernetes problems because it provides a number of features that can help you to diagnose problems, such as log viewing, performance monitoring, and event analysis.

 Continuous Integration & Delivery Tools

CI/CD tools help developers build, test, and deploy code quickly and efficiently, with built-in quality assurance.

Continuous integration (CI) automates the process of building and testing code every time a change is made. This helps to ensure that the code is always in a working state and that any errors are caught early.

Continuous delivery (CD) takes CI one step further by automating the process of deploying code to production. This helps to shorten the time it takes to release new features and to reduce the risk of human error.

Mature CI/CD systems can monitor source code for changes, automatically build and test the code, and then deploy it to production. These systems often include a variety of tests and validation steps to ensure that the code is working correctly before it is deployed to production.

Tool Name
Description
jenkins kubernetes CICDJenkinsAn open-source continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) tool.

Jenkins can be used to automate the building, testing, and deployment of Kubernetes applications.
Jenkins X provides automated CI+CD for Kubernetes with Preview Environments on Pull Requests using Cloud Native pipelines from Tekton
JenkinsXJenkins X provides automated CI+CD for Kubernetes with Preview Environments on Pull Requests using Cloud Native pipelines from Tekton
Argo Gitops KubernetesArgoKubernetes-native tools to run workflows, manage clusters, and do GitOps right.
Flux kubernetes GitOps
Flux
Open and extensible continuous delivery solution for Kubernetes. Powered by GitOps Toolkit.
tekton Kubernetes CICDTektonA cloud-native CI/CD platform that is built on Kubernetes. Tekton provides a set of building blocks that can be used to create custom CI/CD pipelines for Kubernetes applications.
Gitlab CI KubernetesGitlab GitLab CI is a continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) tool that can be used to automate the build, test, and deployment of software. It is integrated with the GitLab code hosting platform, which makes it easy to use and manage CI/CD pipelines.
github CICd KubernetesGitHub Actions
GitHub Actions makes it easy to automate all your software workflows, now with world-class CI/CD. Build, test, and deploy your code right from GitHub. Make code reviews, branch management, and issue triaging work the way you want.
AzureAzure Pipelines
A CI/CD platform from Microsoft that supports Kubernetes. Azure Pipelines can be used to automate the building, testing, and deployment of Kubernetes applications to Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).
Google Cloud Build GCP KubernetesGoogle Cloud Build
A cloud-native CI/CD platform from Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Cloud Build can be used to automate the building, testing, and deployment of Kubernetes applications to GCP.

Kubernetes Security Tools

Security and compliance tools help make your platform and applications more secure and compliant. They can be used to monitor your containers and Kubernetes environments for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations, and to enforce security policies.

In other words, these tools can help you to:

  • Identify and fix security vulnerabilities in your containers and Kubernetes environments.
  • Prevent misconfigurations that could lead to security breaches.
  • Ensure that your containers and Kubernetes environments are compliant with relevant regulations and standards.
Tool Name
Description
kyvernoKyverno
Kubernetes Native Policy Management https://kyverno.io
trivy Kubernetes securityTrivy
Find vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, secrets, SBOM in Kubernetes
Falco KubernetesFalcoFalco is a cloud native runtime security tool that detects and alerts on suspicious behavior and potential security threats. It is an open source project that is incubated by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

Falco works by monitoring the Linux kernel for system calls and events. It then uses a set of rules to identify suspicious behavior, such as unauthorized access to files, unexpected network connections, and attempts to escalate privileges.

Falco can be used to protect Kubernetes clusters, containers, and hosts. It can also be used to monitor cloud-native applications running on other platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
open-policy-agent KubernetesOpen Policy Agent (OPA)OPA can be used to enforce a wide variety of policies, including:

Authorization: OPA can be used to authorize users to access resources. For example, you could use OPA to authorize users to access specific Kubernetes APIs or to deploy specific workloads to Kubernetes.

Auditing: OPA can be used to audit the activity of your applications. For example, you could use OPA to log all Kubernetes API requests or to log all changes to your configuration files.

Compliance: OPA can be used to ensure that your applications are compliant with specific regulations or standards. For example, you could use OPA to enforce PCI DSS compliance or HIPAA compliance.

Check my blog about Trivy : Kubernetes Security : How to use Trivy to scan your Docker images

Kubernetes Service Mesh

Service meshes are a way to control and manage communication between microservices. They make it easier for platform teams to add features like reliability, observability, and security to all of the microservices in a cluster without having to change any code.

Service meshes are now one of the most important parts of cloud native infrastructure, along with Kubernetes.

Here are some of the benefits of using a service mesh for Kubernetes:

  • Improved reliability: Service meshes can help to improve the reliability of your distributed applications by detecting and resolving problems quickly.
  • Increased security: Service meshes can help to improve the security of your distributed applications by providing features such as encryption and authentication.
  • Reduced costs: Service meshes can help to reduce the costs of running distributed applications by optimizing traffic flow and reducing resource usage.
  • Increased visibility: Service meshes can provide you with a comprehensive view of your distributed applications, so you can see how everything is performing and identify any potential problems.

If you are running distributed applications on Kubernetes, I highly recommend that you use a service mesh. It can help you to improve the reliability, security, cost-effectiveness, and visibility of your applications.

Tool Name
Description
istio Service Mesh
Istio
Istio is the most mature and widely used service mesh. It provides a wide range of features, including traffic management, observability, security, and resilience.

However, Istio can be complex to set up and manage.
linkerd Service meshLinkerdLinkerd is a lightweight and fast service mesh that is easy to set up and manage. It provides a core set of features, including traffic management, service discovery, and load balancing.
Anthos Mesh GCPGoogle Anthos Service Mesh
Google Anthos Service Mesh is a service mesh from Google Cloud Platform (GCP) that provides traffic management, observability, security, and resilience for distributed applications. It is tightly integrated with other GCP services.
Consul Service MeshConsul Connect
Consul Connect is a service mesh from HashiCorp that provides service discovery, load balancing, and encryption for microservices.

It is well-integrated with other HashiCorp products, such as Consul and Vault.

Check my beginner guide about Kubernetes Service Mesh here : Kubernetes Service Mesh : A Beginner’s Guide

Kubernetes Cost Optimisation

A Kubernetes cost optimisation tool is like a financial advisor for your Kubernetes clusters. It can help you to make informed decisions about how to spend your money on Kubernetes, so that you can get the most value for your investment.

Here are some of the benefits of using a Kubernetes cost optimization tool:

  • Reduced costs: Kubernetes cost optimization tools can help you to reduce the cost of running your Kubernetes clusters and applications by up to 50%.
  • Improved efficiency: Kubernetes cost optimization tools can help you to improve the efficiency of your Kubernetes clusters by eliminating wasted resources and optimizing pod scheduling.
  • Increased visibility: Kubernetes cost optimization tools can provide you with a comprehensive view of your Kubernetes costs, so you can see where your money is going and identify areas for improvement.
  • Peace of mind: Kubernetes cost optimization tools can give you peace of mind knowing that your Kubernetes clusters are being managed efficiently and that you are not overspending.

If you are running Kubernetes clusters, I highly recommend that you use a cost optimization tool. It can help you to save money, improve efficiency, and increase visibility into your Kubernetes costs.

Tool Name
Description
kubecost
Kubecost
Kubecost is a free and open-source tool that provides detailed cost analysis and recommendations for Kubernetes clusters.

It can help you to identify and eliminate wasted resources, optimize your pod scheduling, and choose the right pricing model for your needs.
cast ai kubernetesCAST AI
CAST AI is a commercial tool that provides AI-powered cost optimization for Kubernetes clusters.

It can help you to identify and eliminate wasted resources, optimize your pod scheduling, and choose the right pricing model for your needs.

Kubernetes Exams Preparation

If you are preparing for Kubernetes certification (CKAD , CKA or CKS) , check out all certification guides here :

CKAD Exam Study Guide: Certified Kubernetes Application Developer

CKA Exam Study Guide: Certified Kubernetes Administrator

CKS Exam Study Guide: Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist

Conclusion

In conclusion, this curated list provides a valuable resource for anyone navigating the complex Kubernetes ecosystem. As the landscape continues to evolve, staying updated with the latest tools and best practices is crucial.

Feel free to check back for regular updates to this list, as we’ll be continuously refining it to ensure it remains a reliable reference point.

Additionally, we welcome your comments and suggestions on other tools you find indispensable in your daily Kubernetes journey. Together, we can enhance the Kubernetes experience for everyone !

Author

  • Mohamed BEN HASSINE

    Mohamed BEN HASSINE is a Hands-On Cloud Solution Architect based out of France. he has been working on Java, Web , API and Cloud technologies for over 12 years and still going strong for learning new things. Actually , he plays the role of Cloud / Application Architect in Paris ,while he is designing cloud native solutions and APIs ( REST , gRPC). using cutting edge technologies ( GCP / Kubernetes / APIGEE / Java / Python )

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