3 min read

Yesterday, Kata Containers 1.5 was released with a host of updates like preliminary support for the Firecracker hypervisor, s390x architecture support, and significant integration improvements!

Kata Containers is an open source project and community building a standard implementation of lightweight Virtual Machines (VMs) that perform like containers and provide the workload isolation and security advantages of Virtual machines. The project is managed by The OpenStack Foundation and combines the technology from Intel® Clear Containers and Hyper runV.

Features of Kata Containers 1.5

#1 Firecracker support

Eric Ernest, an architecture committee member for Kata Containers project, states that the Kata Containers project was designed “to support multiple hypervisor solutions.” The new Firecracker support introduced in this update aims to do just that.

At the Amazon re:Invent conference 2018, the AWS team released ‘Firecracker’ that they explained to be a new Virtualization Technology and Open Source Project for Running Multi-Tenant Container Workloads. Firecracker enables service owners to operate secure multi-tenant container-based services while combining the speed, resource efficiency, and performance enabled by containers with the security and isolation offered by traditional VMs.

Firecracker can be used in Kata Containers 1.5 for feature constrained workloads, while using the QEMU when working with more advanced workloads.

The blog also mentions a small limitation of the Kubernetes functionality when using Kata+Firecracker. The inability to dynamically adjust memory and CPU definitions for a pod and Firecrackers support for only block-based storage drivers and volumes gives rise to the requirement of devicemapper. This is available in Kubernetes + CRI-O and Docker version 18.06. Users can expect more storage driver options soon.

Check out this screencast for an example of Kata configured in CRIO+K8S, utilizing both QEMU and Firecracker. You can head over to GitHub to understand how to get started quickly with Kata + runtimeClass in Kubernetes.

#2 s390x architecture support

Kata Containers 1.5 adds IBM Z-Series support. According to CIO, IBM Z platform includes notable security features. It has a proprietary ASIC on-chip hardware dedicated specifically for cryptographic processes, enabling all-encompassing encryption. This keeps data always encrypted except when that data is being processed. Data is only decrypted during computations before it is encrypted again.

#3 containerd integration

The 1.5 release simplifies how Kata Containers integrate with containerd. Following the discussion last year to add a shim API to containerd, the 1.5 release includes an initial implementation meeting this shim API. Eric Ernest , an architecture committee member for Kata Containers project, says the API  will result in a better interface to Kata Containers and provide the ability to directly access container level statistics from the Kata runtime.

TheKata team plans to have several presentations on this topic at the Open Infrastructure Summit in Denver, April 29- May 1, 2019. You can head over to Eric’s blog for more insights on this announcement or head over to AWS blog to know more about the Firecracker support for Kata 1.5.

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