Community-Created Apps Help Ease Kubernetes Administration


It didn’t take long at all for Kubernetes to become a star in the open source arena, emerging as the standard way to containerize applications at scale. Kubernetes is ushering in “operations transformation” and helping organizations make the transition to cloud-native computing, said Craig McLuckie, co-founder and CEO of Heptio and a co-founder of Kubernetes at Google, in a recent  free webinar.  

However, Kubernetes, which was created at Google and donated to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, is known to be complex and can create many maintenance and deployment challenges. To address that, new classes of community-created complementary and helper applications are helping to tame Kubernetes.

At the Helm

The Helm project is a case in point. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation recently voted to accept Helm as an incubation-level hosted project. Helm is a package manager that provides an easy way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes. It removes complexity from configuration and deployment, and enables greater developer productivity.

“Helm addresses a common user need of deploying applications to Kubernetes by making their configurations reusable,” said Brian Grant, Principal Engineer at Google, and Kubernetes SIG Architecture co-chair and Steering Committee member. “Both the Helm and Kubernetes projects have grown substantially. As Kubernetes shifts its focus to its own core in order to better manage this growth, CNCF is a great home for Helm to continue making it easier for developers and operators to streamline Kubernetes deployments.”

According to a recent Kubernetes Application Survey, 64 percent of the application developers, application operators, and ecosystem tool developers who answered the survey reported using Helm to manage apps on Kubernetes.

Ease of management

But Helm is hardly the only open tool helping to ease the burden of managing Kubernetes. Microsoft has open sourced Draft, a tool that streamlines application development and deployment into any Kubernetes cluster. “Using two simple commands, developers can now begin hacking on container-based applications without requiring Docker or even installing Kubernetes themselves,” notes Gabe Monroy, PM Lead for Containers at Microsoft. “You can customize Draft to streamline the development of any application or service that can run on Kubernetes.” See this process in action here.

Are you aware that your iOS or Android smartphone can play a role in demystifying and operating Kubernetes? Cabin lets Kubernetes administrators leverage a dashboard from their phones. It drives many of the processes and features that you’ll find in the complete Kubernetes dashboard, ranging from reading pod logs to working with web-based apps that Kubernetes hosts, to accessing Helm charts.

Red Hat, too, has been helping users streamline their Kubernetes implementations. Through its acquisition of San Francisco-based startup Codenvy, Red Hat is giving developers options for building out cloud-based integrated development environments, including working with Kubernetes and containers. Codenvy is built on the open source project Eclipse Che, which offers a cloud-based Integrated Developer Environment (IDE) and development environment. The cloud-based container development service from Red Hat already integrates Codenvy’s Eclipse Che implementation.

Dashboards are proven as good tools for simplifying administration of many kinds of processes, and although Kubernetes has a basic dashboard, efficient community-created dashboards are emerging. Kube-ops-view is a popular one. It gives you optics across multiple Kubernetes clusters, with graphical representations across the board that allow you to monitor memory and CPU usage, and more.

Writing and maintaining application definitions is one of the more complex aspects of running Kubernetes, and Kedge is a popular open tool that offers a simplified approach. With Kedge, you can supply a Kubernetes definition in simple form and Kedge expands into a full and correct application definition. It basically lets you work with shortcuts.

The move toward containers shifts many types of dependencies pertaining to applications, and it shifts how applications are created. Kubernetes has proven to be an essential orchestration tool as these changes take place, and it is good to see open tools that can help streamline Kubernetes itself and make developing applications easier.

To learn more about Kubernetes, check out the sample course materials for Kubernetes Fundamentals (LFS258), an online, self-paced course developed by The Linux Foundation Training that gives a high-level overview of what Kubernetes is and the challenges it solves. Download a free sample chapter now.