SAN FRANCISCO — Kubernetes just recently celebrated the 4-year anniversary of its first commit, but the open source container orchestration platform is acting like anything but a toddler. In fact, those guiding the project are looking at a future where Kubernetes could replace OpenStack and VMware as the basis for cloud-native infrastructure.
Speaking at the DockerCon 2018 event in San Francisco, Dan Kohn, executive director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), said the group is focused during the second half of 2018 on seeing if Kubernetes can take on a greater role in shaping the future of cloud architecture.
“It’s sort of doing it on its own without our help,” Kohn said of the Kubernetes Project, which recently hit graduation status within CNCF.
Kohn admitted that this focus was still in its early stages, but that CNCF could make some of those plans more public at the upcoming Open Source Summit North America event. That event is scheduled for late August in Vancouver, British Columbia.
OpenStack is still seen as foundational for telecom operators in migrating their network infrastructure to a virtualized environment. But there has also been ongoing concern about the bloated nature of the platform.
The same can be said for VMware, which remains the basis for virtualized server platforms that dominate the private cloud and enterprise space. However, truly unleashing the potential of cloud platforms will require a loosening of that grip on physical servers.
Kohn did note that a challenge for Kubernetes would be in making sure that compatibility remained across the platform. “But that’s where the conformance program comes in,” he said.
The CNCF launched that program last November as a way to stabilize deployments across vendors and use cases.
Such a push by the Kubernetes community would seem to be a natural progression for the project. While the platform did just celebrate that commit milestone, it’s growth trajectory has gone nearly vertical over the past year. Today, all the major public cloud providers have integrated the container orchestrator as native to their operations. And surveys have shown that Kubernetes is driving new container adoption.
One example of Kubernetes’ potential power was the recently released Airship Project launched by AT&T, SK Telecom, Intel, and the OpenStack Foundation. The initial focus of that project is the implementation of a declarative platform to introduce OpenStack on Kubernetes (OOK) and the lifecycle management of the resulting cloud.
AT&T said last November that it was planning to put more reliance on Kubernetes in its AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC) platform, which is based on OpenStack. Ryan van Wyk, assistant vice president of Cloud Platform Development at AT&T Labs, said at the time that the use of the Kubernetes would add more agility and remove costs from running the AIC platform.
Van Wyk said in blog post tied to the Airship announcement that, “Airship is going to allow AT&T and other operators to deliver cloud infrastructure predictably that is 100 percent declarative, where day zero is managed the same as future updates via a single unified workflow, and where absolutely everything is a container from the bare metal up.”
Kohn also said CNCF was looking at ways to shrink Kubernetes, which has grown significantly in size and scope. He explained that this would involve having projects evolve outside of Kubernetes that could then use well-defined APIs to hook into the platform to fill out functionality.
One example of this was the recently established Helm Project within CNCF. Helm began inside of the Kubernetes Project as a package manager that was developed to support software built on Kubernetes. It’s now an incubation-level hosted project at CNCF.
“We think that’s a great sign from the community that they wanted greater independence, a governance structure, and process,” Kohn said of the Helm Project. “They are a great consumer of the Kubernetes API, but they don’t need to be hooked into it.”
But, before we get too far down this path, Kohn did admit that at this point it was unlikely those efforts to shrink Kubernetes would gain any traction in the near term.
“It’s an aspiration at this point, and I don’t think it’s actually going to happen because there is so much interest in Kubernetes and so much work going into it,” Kohn said.
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