Gravity support policy¶
With version 5.5, Anaconda began to roll out support for the installation of Anaconda Enterprise on customer-supplied Kubernetes clusters—both cloud-hosted and on-premise. We intend for this to become the preferred installation host for Anaconda Enterprise. In this document, we explain some of our rationale and provide guidance for our existing, Gravity-based customers.
Anaconda remains committed to maintaining support for Gravity for the foreseeable future. But for reasons we explain below, we encourage customers to begin the investigation of a migration path to an alternative, internally supported Kubernetes platform.
Gravity is an open-source application delivery system, developed by Teleport (formerly Gravitational). Gravity creates installers that bundle application assets with Planet, a containerized Kubernetes stack. Gravity has enabled us to deliver Anaconda Enterprise to customers for installation on bare metal or virtual machine clusters with no existing Kubernetes support.
The benefits of the Gravity approach come with a number of practical challenges. The most important of these challenges stems from recent changes to Gravity’s support model. Until recently, Teleport offered paid commercial support, providing us with fast access to technical experts when needed. In 2021, they chose to sunset that offering completely. This change has important practical consequences:
- Reliance solely on community support limits our velocity and ability to diagnose low-level performance or functionality issues.
- We rely wholly on the upstream developers to deliver bug and security fixes for the platform. As a result, we are unable to offer firm deadlines for resolving CVEs related to Kubernetes or the underlying virtualization layer.
- While Teleport still relies heavily on Gravity to support their business, and continues to fund its development, we cannot guarantee that will continue—nor can we be certain that their specific development priorities align with ours.
- Their support for newer versions of Kubernetes lags behind the official sources. The latest production version of Gravity ships with Kubernetes 1.17.9, with versions 1.19.15 and 1.21.5 are in pre-release only. In contrast, the latest upstream Kubernetes release as of the writing of this document is 1.23.3.
In addition to these logistical challenges, our experience is that Gravity performance is very sensitive to the precise underlying operating system configuration. Our document Understanding Anaconda Enterprise system requirements represents a compendium of the challenges our customers have experienced.
We have observed that many of these configuration issues are a natural consequence of standard, legitimate IT policies that are not designed with Kubernetes in mind. Transferring ownership of Kubernetes uptime to your IT department, therefore, should help ensure a stable, performant platform for users. It also allows them to make security decisions about the Kubernetes stack that properly balance application stability with security risk.
We recognize that, for many of our customers, the benefits of Gravity outweigh these practical concerns. Their IT departments simply may not be prepared to formally support Kubernetes infrastructure. For these reasons, Anaconda intends to continue to support Gravity as a valid destination for AE5. Here are our plans moving forward:
- The production build of AE 5.5.1 is currently built on top of Gravity 6.1.46, which utilizes Kubernetes 1.15.2.
- For AE 5.5.2, our preferred installer utilizes Gravity 7.0.34 (k8s 1.17.9). This installer has received our full QA cycle, including tests of upgrades from an existing Gravity 6.1 environment.
- In some environments, in-place upgrades that update the major version of Gravity can fail. For this reason, for AE 5.5.2 only, we are supporting a second version of the installer that utilizes Gravity 6.1, to ensure the feasibility of an in-place upgrades for this release. This installer has also received our full QA cycle.
- Subsequent releases of AE5 will offer only a single Gravity installer, utilizing the latest, stable version of the platform.
- Gravity is currently offering beta versions of Gravity 8.0 (k8s 1.19) and 9.0 (k8s 1.21). We will test AE5 with these versions of Gravity only when those versions exit beta.
- If a critical security vulnerability arises in our released versions of Gravity, and the Gravity maintainers release a supported patch update that addresses it, we will build a special “Gravity-only” installer that incorporates the patch. These installers perform in-place upgrades of Gravity itself without disturbing the installed application. We can only offer basic smoke testing for Gravity-only upgrades. A full QA cycle will be reserved for the next official AE5 release. Therefore, customers will need to weigh the urgency of the given patch against this concern. That said, our experience is that Gravity-only updates of this sort are reliable and quick to apply.
When a customer is ready to migrate from Gravity to an in-house Kubernetes platform, Anaconda is committed to working with them to ensure that this process proceeds smoothly. To that end, Anaconda can support the following migration workflow:
- In a standard pre-implementation meeting, we review our Kubernetes system requirements with your cluster administrators.
- We assist in the installation of a new instance of AE on a customer-supplied Kubernetes cluster—running in parallel with an existing, Gravity-based cluster.
- We use our standard DR & Sync tooling to transfer a snapshot of the current cluster’s content to the new cluster, so that users can exercise the new environment.
- Once the customer is satisfied that the new cluster is ready to be promoted to production, we transfer a final snapshot, including the hostname and SSL certificate, and update the DNS records to point to the new cluster.
- Once the cutover is complete, the customer is free to retire the old cluster.
Some logistical notes:
- We cannot provide direct assistance with the specification and provisioning of your new Kubernetes cluster. However, our documentation offers a set of templates and provisioning details for the the major Kubernetes offerings, both cloud and on-premise, that your administrators are free to build from. Our installation process leverages Helm, making it compatible with all major Kubernetes platforms.
- We consider it essential that both clusters are running simultaneously for at least a brief validation period. For this reason, we do not support an in-place “upgrade” of a production Gravity-based cluster to an alternative Kubernetes platform.
- It is reasonable to consider initially under-provisioning the destination Kubernetes cluster. That is, the initial allocation of worker nodes to the new cluster can be smaller, in anticipation that the nodes from the Gravity cluster will be converted to additional workers once validation is complete. In this scenario, it would be necessary only to ensure that the new cluster has enough resources to complete the validation process before the cutover.
- Many Kubernetes administrators are accustomed to hosting workloads that are less resource intensive than a data science development session or machine learning model. In particular, our Docker image sizes and recommended resource profiles are likely to surprise them. We encourage you to review the BYOK8s section of our document Understanding Anaconda Enterprise system requirements with your Kubernetes team prior to firming up a migration plan. They should also review the BYOK8s installation requirements and the pre-install checklist.
Finally, let us address two concerns about cost.
- There will be no license charge levied for a parallel installation, as long as the intent is to fully migrate workloads to the new cluster, and decommission the original, once the installation is verified.
- When migrating from Gravity to an alternative Kubernetes cluster, particularly one with multiple tenants, you may find it necessary to allow AE5 to run on more worker nodes to support the same workload. There will be no additional per-node charges levied as a result of this migration. Upon renewal, we will cap your per-node fees.