Updates to Amazon EKS Version Lifecycle

Updates to Amazon EKS Version Lifecycle

Contributed by Nathan Taber and Michael Hausenblas

At re:Invent 2017 we introduced the Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes, or Amazon EKS for short. We consider these tenets as valid today as they were at launch:

  • EKS is a platform to run production-grade workloads. This means that security and reliability are our first priority. After that we focus on doing the heavy lifting for you in the control plane, including life cycle-related things like version upgrades.
  • EKS provides a native and upstream Kubernetes experience. This means, with EKS you get vanilla, un-forked Kubernetes. Of course, in keeping with our first tenant, we ensure the Kubernetes versions we run have security-related patches, even for older, supported versions as quickly as possible. However, in terms of portability there’s no special sauce and no lock in.
  • If you want to use additional AWS services, the integrations are as seamless as possible.
  • The EKS team in AWS actively contributes to the upstream Kubernetes project, both on the technical level as well as community, from communicating good practices to participation in SIGs and working groups.

The first two tenets are highlighted and that is for a good reason: on the one hand we aim to go in lock-step with the upstream release cadence as much as possible, including outcomes of the SIG PM as well as the LTS Working Group. Given that running a service for production applications is our main focus, we want to make sure that you can rely on the Kubernetes we run for you. This includes, but is not limited to, security considerations around community support for ongoing bug fixes and patches for critical vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs).

In this post, we want to give you a heads-up on upcoming changes with out Amazon EKS is managing the lifecycle for Kubernetes versions, walk you through the process in general and then have a look at a concrete example, Kubernetes version 1.10. This version happens to be the first version that will be deprecated on Amazon EKS.

But why now?

Glad you asked. It’s really all about security. Past a certain point (usually 1 year), the Kubernetes community stops releasing bug and CVE patches. Additionally, the Kubernetes project does not encourage CVE submission for deprecated versions. This means that vulnerabilities specific to an older version of Kubernetes may not even be reported, leaving users exposed with no notice in the case of a vulnerability. We consider this to be an unacceptable security posture for our customers.

Earlier this year we announced support for Kubernetes 1.12 in EKS. That, together with our commitment to support three Kubernetes versions at any given point in time and the fact that 1.13 will land very soon in EKS means that we have to deprecate 1.10, after which the three supported versions, unsurprisingly, will be 1.11, 1.12, and (you guessed it) 1.13. OK, with that out of the way, let’s have a look at the options you have to move to the latest Kubernetes versions with Amazon EKS and then dive into the update and deprecation process in greater detail:

  • Ideally, you test a new version and move to one of the three supported ones, in time (details below).
  • If you are still on a version we deprecate, you will be upgraded automatically, after some time (details, again, below).
  • If you’re using a deprecated version beyond a certain point and we can’t upgrade the cluster, we may deactivate it.

A quick Kubernetes release cycle refresher

In a nutshell, the Kubernetes versioning and release regime is roughly following a four-releases-per-year pattern, with cadence varying between 70 and 130 days. It also lays out an expectation in terms of upgrades:

We expect users to stay reasonably up-to-date with the versions of Kubernetes they use in production, but understand that it may take time to upgrade, especially for production-critical components.

The formal API versioning allows for a strict deprecation policy which states, amongst other things, that stable (GA) API support is “12 months or 3 releases (whichever is longer)”.

Now that we’re on the same page how upstream Kubernetes releases are managed, let’s have a look at how we at AWS implement the process in EKS.

The EKS Process

In line with the Kubernetes community support for Kubernetes versions, Amazon EKS is committed to running at least three production-ready versions of Kubernetes at any given time, with a fourth version in deprecation. A new Kubernetes version is released as generally available by the Kubernetes project every 70 and 130 days (we take the average of 90 days for simplicity). New GA versions will be supported by EKS some time after GA release (typically at the first patch version release – 1.XX.1, but sometimes later). This means that the total time a version is in production with EKS should be roughly 270 days.

We will announce the deprecation of a given Kubernetes version (n) at least 60 days before the deprecation date and over time, will align the deprecation of a Kubernetes version on EKS to be on or after the date the Kubernetes project stops supporting the version upstream.

For example, we will announce deprecation of version 1.10 while 1.12 is available for EKS and complete the deprecation process after version 1.13 is available for EKS. We will announce the deprecation of 1.11 after 1.13 is available and complete the deprecation after 1.14 is available for EKS.

The following table shows how this will work:

 EKS Version

   Today

   Soon

 About +90 days

 About +180 days

 About +270 days

 Latest Available 

1.12

1.13

1.14

1.15

1.16

 Default 

1.11

1.12

1.13

1.14

1.15

 Oldest 

1.10

1.11

1.12

1.13

1.14

 In Deprecation 

1.10

1.11

1.12

1.13

When we announce the deprecation, we will give customers a specific date when new cluster creation will be disabled for the version targeted for deprecation. On this date, EKS clusters running the version targeted for deprecation will begin to be updated to the next EKS-supported version of Kubernetes. This means that if the deprecated version is 1.10, clusters will be automatically updated to version 1.11. If a cluster is automatically updated by EKS, customers will need to update the version of their worker nodes after the update is complete. Kubernetes has compatibility between masters and workers for at least 2 versions, so 1.10 workers will continue to operate when orchestrated by a 1.11 control plane.

Upcoming deprecation of Kubernetes 1.10 in EKS

Amazon EKS will deprecate Kubernetes version 1.10 on July 22, 2019. On this day, you will no longer be able to create new 1.10 clusters and all EKS clusters running Kubernetes version 1.10 will be updated to the latest available platform version of Kubernetes version 1.11.

We recommend that all Amazon EKS customers update their 1.10 clusters to Kubernetes version 1.11 or 1.12 as soon as possible.

 

Wrapping up

What can you do today to prepare? Well, first off, internalize the timeline and try to align internal processes with it. Our documentation has more information about the EKS Kubernetes version deprecation process and EKS updates. If you have any questions, send us a note on our version deprecation issue in the public containers roadmap on GitHub.

from AWS Compute Blog

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