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What Is a Kubernetes Cluster? Key Components Explained

What is a Kubernetes Cluster?

In this article, we will take a look at what a Kubernetes cluster is. We will then look at the components of the master node and worker nodes that make up a K8s cluster.

What we will cover:

  1. What is a Kubernetes cluster?
  2. What are the Kubernetes cluster components?
  3. How does a Kubernetes cluster work?
  4. How to create a Kubernetes cluster?

What is a Kubernetes cluster?

A Kubernetes cluster is a collection of nodes that run containerized applications. It automates the distribution of applications across a cluster, manages scaling and failover for applications, and provides deployment patterns and services for managing containerized applications. 

A K8s cluster is used to orchestrate containerized applications for better scalability and reliability, streamline CI/CD practices, and facilitate cloud-native application development and deployment across diverse environments.

What is a node in a Kubernetes cluster?

Nodes can be thought of as individual compute resources, so pretty much any group of compute resources can be used. Usually, nodes are made up of a group of virtual machines if the platform is running in the cloud behind the veil of a PaaS (Platform-as-a-service) offering. They can also be run on serverless engines, such as Amazon Fargate. If the Kubernetes cluster runs on-premises, nodes can be physical machines. You can even run a K8s cluster on a group of Raspberry Pis!

Kubernetes cluster also includes a control plane, which is responsible for the management and orchestration of the containers across the nodes and for maintaining the desired state.

If you want easy and efficient maintenance of your K8s cluster, see 15 Kubernetes Best Practices Every Developer Should Know.

Difference between Kubernetes cluster and node

What are the Kubernetes cluster components?

Read more about Kubernetes Architecture components.

componets of a kubernetes cluster

Master node components

Worker node components

How does a Kubernetes cluster work?

You can also take a look at how to maintain operations around the Kubernetes Cluster and how Kubernetes is integrated into Spacelift. Spacelift helps you manage the complexities and compliance challenges of using Kubernetes. It brings with it a GitOps flow, so your Kubernetes Deployments are synced with your Kubernetes Stacks, and pull requests show you a preview of what they’re planning to change.

How to create a Kubernetes cluster?

Creating a Kubernetes cluster can be a challenging task if you want to install all the components manually. If you’ve never done it before, the recommended approach is to follow through with one of the installation processes to get familiar with all of the components. 

On the other hand, if you want to get up and running quickly, Kind might be a very easy solution to use on your local machine or a VM. It uses Docker containers to simulate Kubernetes nodes, making it possible to create and run a Kubernetes cluster with a single command. Additionally, Kind is compatible with many popular Kubernetes tools, including kubectl and Helm, making it easy to use in existing workflows. There are also other lightweight tools available for this, like Minikube or K3s

If you are using a Cloud Provider like AWS, Azure, GCP, or OCI, you can easily use their managed Kubernetes Services like EKS, AKS, GKE, and OKE in order to spin up a Kubernetes cluster in a couple of minutes.

Creating Kubernetes cluster – example

There are multiple ways in which you can create a K8s cluster:

  • Using the specific cloud service (Amazon EKS, Azure AKS, Google Kubernetes Engine, etc)
  • Using kubeadm
  • Minikube
  • Kind
  • K3s
  • MicroK8s
  • Rancher

Let’s create a Kubernetes cluster using Kind (Kubernetes in Docker).

First, you’ll need to ensure you have Docker and Golang installed on your machine. Then you need to start Docker, and after that, run the following commands:

go install

kind create cluster

In a couple of seconds, your K8s cluster will be ready.

Key points

Understanding the components that make up a K8s cluster is important to give you the foundations in K8s operations. Knowing what each component of the cluster does aids in the operation, management, and troubleshooting of any issues that might arise with the cluster.

And if you aren’t already using Spacelift, sign up for a free trial.

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