Using Rancher, you can manage Kubernetes clusters directly on AWS, within the EKS service or across hybrid or multi-cloud systems. Rancher enables you to centrally manage your cluster policies and helps ensure consistent and reliable container access

Kubernetes is hugely popular and growing, and is primarily used on the cloud — 83 percent of organizations included in a large CNCF survey said they run Kubernetes on at least one public cloud. Amazon is a natural option for Kubernetes clusters, due to its mature and robust infrastructure, and a variety of deployment options with a varying degree of automation.

Image Rancher AWS architecture

Rancher provides the following additional capabilities not fully available in plain Amazon EKS:

  • Centralized user authentication & RBAC – you can integrate Rancher with LDAP, Active Directory or SAML-based authentication services. This enables you to consistently enforce role-based access control (RBAC) policies across your environments. Centralized RBAC is the preferred way to manage access and permissions as it reduces administrative requirements and makes management of permissions easier.
  • UI in a single pane of glass – you manage Rancher from an intuitive web interface. This enables DevOps teams to easily deploy and troubleshoot workloads and operations teams to smoothly release and link services and applications across environments. Simplified management also eliminates the need to know specifics of your infrastructure of Kubernetes distribution and promotes greater workflow efficiency.
  • Enhanced cluster security – Rancher enables you to centrally define security policies and procedures. Security teams can set policies dictating how users are allowed to interact with clusters and how workloads operate across infrastructures. These policies can then be immediately pushed to any clusters as needed.
  • Multi and hybrid-cloud support – included with Rancher are global application catalogs that you can use across Kubernetes clusters, regardless of location. These catalogs provide access to apps ready for immediate deployment, creating standardized application configurations across your services. Using these apps, you can significantly reduce the load on your operations and development teams.
  • Tools integration – Rancher includes built-in integrations with the Istio service mesh, Prometheus and Grafana for monitoring, Fluentd for logging. In combination, these integrations help you manage deployments across clouds regardless of service variations.

To create a Kubernetes cluster on AWS with Rancher and EKS:

  1. Prepare a Linux host with a supported version of Linux, and install a supported version of Docker on the host (see all supported versions).
  2. Start the Rancher server by running this Docker command:

    $ sudo docker run -d --restart=unless-stopped -p 80:80 -p 443:443 rancher/rancher
  3. Open a browser and go to the hostname or address where you installed your Docker container. You will see the Rancher server UI. Rancher Serve UI

  4. Select Clusters and click Add cluster. Choose Amazon EKS.

  5. Type a Cluster Name. Under Member Roles, click Add Member to add users that will be able to manage the cluster, and select a Role for each user.

  6. Enter the AWS Region, Access Key and Secret Key you got when creating your VPC.

  7. Click Next: Select Service Role. For this tutorial, select Standard: Rancher-generated service role. This means Rancher will automatically add a service role for the cluster to use. You can also select an existing AWS service role.

  8. Click Next: Select VPC and Subnet. Choose whether there will be a Public IP for Worker Nodes. If you choose No, select a VPC & Subnet to allow instances to access the Internet, so they can communicate with the Kubernetes control plane.

  9. Select a Security Group (defined when you created your VPC).

  10. Click Select Instance Options and select: a. Instance type – you can choose which Amazon instance should be used for your Kubernetes worker nodes. b. Customer AMI override – you can choose a specific Amazon Machine Image to install on your instances. By default, Rancher provides its EKS-optimized AMI. c. Desired ASG size – the number of instances in your cluster. d. User data – custom commands for automated configuration, do not set this when you’re just getting started.

  11. Click Create. Rancher is now provisioning your cluster. You can access your cluster once its state is Active.

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