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Lens 5 for Kubernetes adds new features to securely access shared clusters from anywhere

Edward Ionel - June 29, 2021
Lens 5 delivers new feature enhancements for organizing cloud native resources and accelerating work, including Lens Spaces, a centralized cloud-based service -- integrated with Lens IDE -- that lets teams create collaborative spaces for their cloud-native development needs.
Today, Mirantis and Team Lens are proud to introduce Lens 5, which adds significant new functionality to Lens, including a new way of sharing secure access to clusters through our Kubernetes dashboard. We continue to strive to improve the speed and efficiency of developers working with Kubernetes. 
Lens 5 includes new community features, such as Catalog and Hotbars, that we expect to provide a great deal of functionality for users. Here at Mirantis, however, we are most excited about an additional feature, Spaces.

Lens Spaces

The highlight of  Lens 5.0 is Lens Spaces, a cloud service that works seamlessly with Lens to provide an integrated environment for teaming, participation, and access control around Kubernetes.
You can sign up for and access Spaces from within the Lens desktop application. Once signed up and logged in, users can view clusters to which they have access — granted either by yourself via Kubeconfig, or by others — and easily connect with them.
Accessing clusters through Spaces is simpler and faster than ever before; users no longer need to browse for or cut and paste a local kubeconfig, which is the normal way to tell Lens how to connect with a new cluster. Now, with Spaces, the effect is the same: you enjoy exactly the same customizable subset of access privileges and restrictions an administrator would normally set up for you using RBAC and roles and access control, which still govern your access. Now, users can access clusters without searching for, downloading, emailing, or otherwise fiddling with kubeconfigs (or with port forwarding, tunneling, VPNs, or any of the other complications required for secure networking).
This brief demo showcases Lens Spaces, new with Lens 5.

Lens 5 lists clusters you can access, and locates them on a world map.

Cluster Connect

Cluster Connect, the technology behind Lens Spaces, allows our users to connect any of their Kubernetes clusters to Lens Spaces without requiring an inbound port to be enabled on the firewall, so developers and operators can now access and work with their Kubernetes clusters easily from anywhere, without sacrificing security. 
Administrators can then create secure “Spaces,” where clusters and users can be placed: add a user in the same space as a given cluster, and you’ve given them access. Just as easily, access can be revoked for individual users, or for all users by simply removing the cluster from one or more Spaces.
For much more granular access control, meanwhile, Lens Spaces admins can also pre-define specific permissions for each user and team for each cluster they share a Space with. It’s a very sleek and intuitive metaphor that (we think) will help accelerate work and improve security — both by minimizing human error, and by letting you fix mistakes (like giving access to a cluster to the wrong team) quickly and easily.
As it stands today, this is just the beginning for Lens and its new cloud based enhancements. We will continually add new features and functionality to help our users increase productivity not only when working with Kubernetes, but any and all cloud-native technologies! Just to make things clear:
  • The majority of new features within Lens 5.0 work without registration, and the project will be continuously updated
  • Lens IDE will continue to be an OSS project, and most of all, free
  • Participation in Lens Spaces is optional 
  • We’re scaling out Lens Spaces while taking care to grow and govern the service carefully, preserving user privacy and security, and ensuring a good user experience


Also, new to Lens 5.0, we’re excited to introduce Catalog: a new UI component that lets you collect Kubernetes clusters, along with custom Lens views, weblinks, services, tools, pipelines, automations, and other related resources to make them accessible with single clicks. Users can leverage Catalog for their own projects within Lens, helping organize tools and clusters to help improve work efficiency. Lens Spaces administrators, meanwhile, can create centralized catalogs accessible to all members in a Space — simplifying onboarding, orientation, and standardization of tools and methods across teams and projects.

Lens HotBar

In addition, after many discussions with Lens and Kubernetes users, we’ve come to understand that Kubernetes users need an easier way to build workflows that improve efficiency, which is a complex and time-consuming task. To that end, we are introducing Lens Hotbar to help improve the user experience when working with Kubernetes. Lens Hotbar is a new UI component built to help users build “workflows” and automations within the Lens desktop application.
Items in the Hotbar can be customized by assigning different labels, colors, and icons for easy recall. Items can also be arranged, to prioritize or perform actions in a specific sequence, for example. Users can create and cycle through multiple Hotbars, allowing for different profiles or workspaces when using Lens. Users can also drag and drop specific clusters, automation, and views from a Catalog into a Lens HotBar, enabling personalization and customization of asset collections assembled (and/or shared) using Catalog on the desktop, or via Lens Spaces.
So that's what's new in Lens 5!  The team and I invite you to give it a try, and we would love to hear your feedback, good or bad. Also, if you enjoy Lens, we would greatly appreciate you giving us a star on Github. This allows our developers and contributors to see the love and appreciation for the project!

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