Kubernetes can run on various platforms: from your laptop, to VMs on a cloud provider, to a rack of bare metal servers. The effort required to set up a cluster varies from running a single command to crafting your own customized cluster. Use this guide to choose a solution that fits your needs.

If you just want to “kick the tires” on Kubernetes, use the local Docker-based solutions.

When you are ready to scale up to more machines and higher availability, a hosted solution is the easiest to create and maintain.

Turnkey cloud solutions require only a few commands to create and cover a wide range of cloud providers. On-Premises turnkey cloud solutions have the simplicity of the turnkey cloud solution combined with the security of your own private network.

If you already have a way to configure hosting resources, use kubeadm to easily bring up a cluster with a single command per machine.

Custom solutions vary from step-by-step instructions to general advice for setting up a Kubernetes cluster from scratch.

Local-machine Solutions

  • Minikube is the recommended method for creating a local, single-node Kubernetes cluster for development and testing. Setup is completely automated and doesn’t require a cloud provider account.
  • Kubeadm-dind is a multi-node (while minikube is single-node) Kubernetes cluster which only requires a docker daemon. It uses docker-in-docker technique to spawn the Kubernetes cluster.
  • Ubuntu on LXD supports a nine-instance deployment on localhost.
  • IBM Cloud Private-CE (Community Edition) can use VirtualBox on your machine to deploy Kubernetes to one or more VMs for development and test scenarios. Scales to full multi-node cluster.
  • IBM Cloud Private-CE (Community Edition) on Linux Containers is a Terraform/Packer/BASH based Infrastructure as Code (IaC) scripts to create a seven node (1 Boot, 1 Master, 1 Management, 1 Proxy and 3 Workers) LXD cluster on Linux Host.

Hosted Solutions

  • Google Kubernetes Engine offers managed Kubernetes clusters.
  • Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes offers managed Kubernetes service.
  • Azure Kubernetes Service offers managed Kubernetes clusters.
  • Stackpoint.io provides Kubernetes infrastructure automation and management for multiple public clouds.
  • AppsCode.com provides managed Kubernetes clusters for various public clouds, including AWS and Google Cloud Platform.
  • Madcore.Ai is devops-focused CLI tool for deploying Kubernetes infrastructure in AWS. Master, auto-scaling group nodes with spot-instances, ingress-ssl-lego, Heapster, and Grafana.
  • Platform9 offers managed Kubernetes on-premises or on any public cloud, and provides 24/7 health monitoring and alerting. (Kube2go, a web-UI driven Kubernetes cluster deployment service Platform9 released, has been integrated to Platform9 Sandbox.)
  • OpenShift Dedicated offers managed Kubernetes clusters powered by OpenShift.
  • OpenShift Online provides free hosted access for Kubernetes applications.
  • IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service offers managed Kubernetes clusters with isolation choice, operational tools, integrated security insight into images and containers, and integration with Watson, IoT, and data.
  • Giant Swarm offers managed Kubernetes clusters in their own datacenter, on-premises, or on public clouds.
  • Kubermatic provides managed Kubernetes clusters for various public clouds, including AWS and Digital Ocean, as well as on-premises with OpenStack integration.
  • Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes is a fully-managed, scalable, and highly available service that you can use to deploy your containerized applications to the cloud.
  • Kublr offers enterprise-grade secure, scalable, highly reliable Kubernetes clusters on AWS, Azure, GCP, and on-premise. It includes out-of-the-box backup and disaster recovery, multi-cluster centralized logging and monitoring, and built-in alerting.
  • APPUiO runs an OpenShift public cloud platform, supporting any Kubernetes workload. Additionally APPUiO offers Private Managed OpenShift Clusters, running on any public or private cloud.

Turnkey Cloud Solutions

These solutions allow you to create Kubernetes clusters on a range of Cloud IaaS providers with only a few commands. These solutions are actively developed and have active community support.

On-Premises turnkey cloud solutions

These solutions allow you to create Kubernetes clusters on your internal, secure, cloud network with only a few commands.

Custom Solutions

Kubernetes can run on a wide range of Cloud providers and bare-metal environments, and with many base operating systems.

If you can find a guide below that matches your needs, use it. It may be a little out of date, but it will be easier than starting from scratch. If you do want to start from scratch, either because you have special requirements, or just because you want to understand what is underneath a Kubernetes cluster, try the Getting Started from Scratch guide.

If you are interested in supporting Kubernetes on a new platform, see Writing a Getting Started Guide.


If you already have a way to configure hosting resources, use kubeadm to easily bring up a cluster with a single command per machine.


These solutions are combinations of cloud providers and operating systems not covered by the above solutions.

On-Premises VMs

Bare Metal


These solutions provide integration with third-party schedulers, resource managers, and/or lower level platforms.

  • DCOS
    • Community Edition DCOS uses AWS
    • Enterprise Edition DCOS supports cloud hosting, on-premises VMs, and bare metal

Table of Solutions

Below is a table of all of the solutions listed above.

IaaS Provider Config. Mgmt. OS Networking Docs Support Level
any any multi-support any CNI docs Project (SIG-cluster-lifecycle)
Google Kubernetes Engine GCE docs Commercial
Stackpoint.io multi-support multi-support docs Commercial
AppsCode.com Saltstack Debian multi-support docs Commercial
Madcore.Ai Jenkins DSL Ubuntu flannel docs Community (@madcore-ai)
Platform9 multi-support multi-support docs Commercial
Kublr custom multi-support multi-support docs Commercial
Kubermatic multi-support multi-support docs Commercial
Giant Swarm CoreOS flannel and/or Calico docs Commercial
GCE Saltstack Debian GCE docs Project
Azure Kubernetes Service Ubuntu Azure docs Commercial
Azure (IaaS) Ubuntu Azure docs Community (Microsoft)
Bare-metal custom Fedora none docs Project
Bare-metal custom Fedora flannel docs Community (@aveshagarwal)
libvirt custom Fedora flannel docs Community (@aveshagarwal)
KVM custom Fedora flannel docs Community (@aveshagarwal)
DCOS Marathon CoreOS/Alpine custom docs Community (Kubernetes-Mesos Authors)
AWS CoreOS CoreOS flannel docs Community
GCE CoreOS CoreOS flannel docs Community (@pires)
Vagrant CoreOS CoreOS flannel docs Community (@pires@AntonioMeireles)
CloudStack Ansible CoreOS flannel docs Community (@sebgoa)
VMware vSphere any multi-support multi-support docs Community
Bare-metal custom CentOS flannel docs Community (@coolsvap)
lxd Juju Ubuntu flannel/canal docs Commercial and Community
AWS Juju Ubuntu flannel/calico/canal docs Commercial and Community
Azure Juju Ubuntu flannel/calico/canal docs Commercial and Community
GCE Juju Ubuntu flannel/calico/canal docs Commercial and Community
Oracle Cloud Juju Ubuntu flannel/calico/canal docs Commercial and Community
Rackspace Juju Ubuntu flannel/calico/canal docs Commercial and Community
VMware vSphere Juju Ubuntu flannel/calico/canal docs Commercial and Community
Bare Metal Juju Ubuntu flannel/calico/canal docs Commercial and Community
AWS Saltstack Debian AWS docs Community (@justinsb)
AWS kops Debian AWS docs Community (@justinsb)
Bare-metal custom Ubuntu flannel docs Community (@resouer@WIZARD-CXY)
oVirt docs Community (@simon3z)
any any any any docs Community (@erictune)
any any any any docs Commercial and Community
any RKE multi-support flannel or canal docs Commercial and Community
any Gardener Cluster-Operator multi-support multi-support docs Project/Community and Commercial
Alibaba Cloud Container Service For Kubernetes ROS CentOS flannel/Terway docs Commercial
Agile Stacks Terraform CoreOS multi-support docs Commercial
Note: The above table is ordered by version test/used in nodes, followed by support level.

Definition of columns

  • IaaS Provider is the product or organization which provides the virtual or physical machines (nodes) that Kubernetes runs on.
  • OS is the base operating system of the nodes.
  • Config. Mgmt. is the configuration management system that helps install and maintain Kubernetes on the nodes.
  • Networking is what implements the networking model. Those with networking type none may not support more than a single node, or may support multiple VM nodes in a single physical node.
  • Conformance indicates whether a cluster created with this configuration has passed the project’s conformance tests for supporting the API and base features of Kubernetes v1.0.0.
  • Support Levels
    • Project: Kubernetes committers regularly use this configuration, so it usually works with the latest release of Kubernetes.
    • Commercial: A commercial offering with its own support arrangements.
    • Community: Actively supported by community contributions. May not work with recent releases of Kubernetes.
    • Inactive: Not actively maintained. Not recommended for first-time Kubernetes users, and may be removed.
  • Notes has other relevant information, such as the version of Kubernetes used.