Kubernetes Distributions

Last Updated: 2024-01-28

Kuberntes itself is an open-source project. Many commercial offerings are built on top of the open-source Kubernetes.

From the top 3 Clouds:

  • Amazon EKS
  • Google GKS
  • Azure AKS


  • Red Hat Openshift
  • IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service (IKS)
  • Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE)
  • VMware Tanzu
  • D2iQ Kubernetes Platform (DKP): https://d2iq.com/ Previously Mesosphere, later pivoted from Mesos to Kubernetes and renamed D2IQ.
  • Platform9
  • Kubermatic: https://www.kubermatic.com/

Lightweight k8s versions

For local testing or environment with limited resources.

  • kind (Kubernetes in Docker): primarily designed for testing Kubernetes itself; kind uses Weave for CNI. A node is a docker container. Cluster into Docker containers, faster startup speed compared to spawning VM. Can load local images directly into the cluster instead of setting up a registry.
  • k3s (Rancher): not a full k8s, a stripped down / recompiled version; for edge and IoT. Running natively on the host. By removing dispensable features (legacy, alpha, non-default, in-tree plugins) and using lightweight components (e.g. sqlite3 instead of etcd3); all control plane in one binary.
  • minikube (https://minikube.sigs.k8s.io/): run a local k8s cluster. A node is a VM. spawning a VM that is essentially a single node K8s cluster.
  • MicroK8s (Canonical)


Conformance enables interoperability from one Kubernetes installation to the next. It allows them the flexibility to choose between vendors.

CNCF runs the Certified Kubernetes Conformance Program. Most of the world’s leading enterprise software vendors and cloud computing providers have Certified Kubernetes offerings.

Full list of certified distributions: https://www.cncf.io/certification/software-conformance