Graduation day: Kubernetes hits key milestone as CNCF lays out a cloud-native road map

Containers, orchestrated. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Jumila / cc2.0)

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation was created when Google agreed to release Kubernetes as an open-source project back in 2015, and the CNCF plans to announce this week that Kubernetes has graduated from its incubation program, signaling a new level of stability and maturity for the container-orchestration software.

Kubernetes allows companies that have placed big bets on the operational efficiency of containers to manage all those containers at scale, and the cloud tech industry fell over itself to support Kubernetes in 2017. There are a few steps that CNCF-hosted projects must take before “graduating,” but this week’s announcement is really more a reflection of what the project has already accomplished, said Dan Kohn, executive director of the CNCF, in an interview with GeekWire this week.

“It’s more about saying that there is a self-governing community, (and a) serious, stable, mature piece of software ready for adoption,” Kohn said.

Targeting cloud laggards, the CNCF also plans this week to roll out a “trail map” for building a cloud-native operation using the projects under its wing, as well as a more interactive and comprehensive guide to cloud technologies in 2018.

“Cloud native is a destination, and there’s many different paths to getting there,” Kohn said. “(The) CNCF projects are the well-lit, well-trodden path.”

The “trail map” outlining the open-source cloud-native technologies hosted by the CNCF. (CNCF Image)

The CNCF now hosts 16 open-source projects that it intends to help with technical advice and resources during the crucial period between a good cloud tech idea and a good cloud tech idea that people are actually using. It divides those projects into three categories: inception, reserved for nascent projects like Rook, led by Seattle’s Bassam Tabbara; incubation, which includes most CNCF projects and mandates some level of end user adoption and a steady roster of people contributing to the project; and graduation, which requires that a project adopt a governance structure, a code of conduct, and the approval of a supermajority of the CNCF Technical Operating Committee.

Kohn and other key members of the CNCF — which at this point includes just about everyone involved in cloud computing, from the Big Three cloud providers to older enterprise tech companies to end users — have been very careful over the last few years to avoid imposing a top-down approach to cloud-native standards. The addition of the trail map changes that a bit, laying out a suggested path for companies that want to modernize their infrastructure, but nobody is using all 16 CNCF projects as part of their enterprise computing stack, he said.

So what’s next for Kubernetes? The project will remain part of the CNCF and Kohn expects development to continue apace for the foreseeable future. Work on this was already underway in 2017, but one of the main goals for 2018 is to strip down the core of Kubernetes and push lesser-used components into roles as plug-ins or add-ons, he said.