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The “Kubernetes agnostic” Rancher can help you work with any Kubernetes distribution. And, SUSE, now that SUSE acquired Rancher and its eponymous cluster management program, is giving everyone notice that the first version of Rancher under SUSE’s management, Rancher 2.6, is going to be a great one.

The new Rancher, which will be out later this year, promises to have a more user-friendly interface. This will make it easier for Kubernetes managers, whether they’re managing one or 1 million clusters.

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Rancher, long before SUSE bought it, was well known for providing an excellent complete Kubernetes management software stack. With over 37,000 active users and 100 million downloads in 2020, clearly users liked it.

The reason for that is simple. Rancher made it much more manageable to handle the operational and security challenges of managing multiple Kubernetes clusters across almost any cloud or infrastructure. Specifically, it supports any Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)-certified Kubernetes distribution. This includes Google GKE, Amazon EKS, and Microsoft AKS.

What’s probably more important is that the Rancher stack enables you to manage Kubernetes clusters across hybrid clouds with centralized authentication, access control and monitoring. So, if you don’t want to keep all your container eggs in one cloud basket, with Rancher you can easily deploy Kubernetes clusters on bare metal, private clouds, public clouds or VMware vSphere, and secure them using global security policies. It does this by using Kubernetes’s native Helm, or its own app catalog

This entire stack is, as you’d expect, open-source. SUSE remains committed to delivering 100% true open-source technologies with no vendor lock-in. SUSE has its own Kubernetes distribution, SUSE Container as a Service (CaaS) Platform. Rancher, which will continue to run as its own entity, will continue to support multiple Kubernetes distributions and operating systems.

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In this next release, Rancher will deliver fuller lifecycle management of Microsoft AKS, Google GKE, and CaaS. This is in addition to its existing Amazon EKS support. It will also support SUSE’s own Podman-based SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 15 SP3 Base Container Image. These are bare-bone SLES 15 environments for containers.

Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher and now SUSE’s newly minted president of engineering and innovation, said in his SUSECon keynote, “We have pulled together the deep technical talent from both companies, and we’re accelerating our pace of innovation. You trust us with your mission-critical workloads; we will not let you down.”

That sounds good—and I hope it’s so since I’m fond of both SUSE and Rancher. But, I can’t help noticing that Rancher 2.6’s source code is overdue and, as of May 20, only 38% complete. I’d thought we’d see Rancher 2.6 arrive by this summer, but this fall looks like a safer bet. We’ll soon see if it’s worth the wait. I expect the beta to be out sooner than later.