The platform is called the Operator Framework. It’s designed as a toolkit to manage those native Kubernetes applications, which are known as Operators. The platform includes a software development kit (SDK), lifecycle management, and eventually a metering option.
The SDK allows developers to build Operators without needing to know about Kubernetes APIs. The lifecycle manager oversees installation, updates, and management of the lifecycle of all of the Operators running across a Kubernetes cluster. The metering provides usage reporting for Operators that support more complex services.
The platform is basically designed to lower the barrier for entry when it comes to building Kubernetes applications by bringing best practices under one roof. It also allows those applications to remain up-to-date in terms of new iterations and security requirements.
Rob Szumski, product manager for OpenShift at Red Hat and formerly at CoreOS, explained that the new platform will ease the management of these applications without needing deep knowledge of Kubernetes.
“This is kind of getting closer and closer to the vision of CoreOS around having automated operations to secure the internet connection and clusters people are using,” Szumski said.
Wait, What’s an Operator?
CoreOS introduced the concept of an Operator in late 2016. It’s basically a controller that runs Kubernetes for a particular application. It does this by using the Kubernetes API to handle the creation and management of application instances.
The concept is targeted at distributed applications. It allows for the scaling of instances as needed. It also supports the setting of policies in a declarative manner by telling the network what is needed and letting the Operator execute the specific actions to get to that state.
“It’s a challenge running application, they are very complex,” Szumski said, explaining that updates, for instance, have very specific checklists. “An Operator can help.”
Operators are currently available to support etcd, Rook, Prometheus, and CoreOS’ Tectonic.
Szumski said the Operator Framework is being driven by the open source community, and that Red Hat has offered it to the Kubernetes Project. It has also proposed a development special interest group aligned with Google’s current Kubebuilder project.
Red Hat earlier this year purchased CoreOS for $250 million to bolster its position in the Kubernetes space. Red Hat gained CoreOS’ container platform expertise, with a specific focus on its Kubernetes-based Tectonic platform.
Red Hat has been an active member of the container ecosystem, having thrown considerable support behind the space as it has evolved away from bare metal. Red Hat’s current container efforts center on its OpenShift platform.
The vendor recently launched its own Vault Operator open source project that allow for the management of the Vault tool on a Kubernetes cluster. Vault is designed to handle the storing, managing, and controlling of access to secrets, such as tokens, passwords, certificates, and API keys.
Szumski explained that the Vault Operator does not yet use the SDK from the Operator Framework, though it might at some point. “We even have a proof of concept started,” he said.