Kubernetes is free of Google’s purse strings


Kubernetes rules cloud-container orchestration. We all know that. You may also know that Google created Kubernetes and then spun the project’s management off to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in 2015.

But what you probably don’t know is that Google still controls all the computing resources used to manage and test Kubernetes and its continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) infrastructure.

That relationship is ending.  Sarah Novotny, Google’s leader of Kubernetes Community Program, announced at The Linux Foundation‘s Open Source Summit in Vancouver that Google was transferring ownership and management of the Kubernetes project’s cloud resources to the CNCF community.

To help smooth the transition Google is donating $9 million to the CNCF. Novotny smilingly remarked in a media lunch that “this is not cash in small non-sequential bills or Bitcoin, but Google Cloud credit,” a donation that will help keep Kubernetes development up to speed.

With this move CNCF and Kubernetes community members take ownership of all day-to-day Kubernetes operations and the responsibility for testing and building and maintaining services to distribute Kubernetes.

It’s a big job. William Denniss, the Google Kubernetes Product Manager, recently wrote that, in its five years of existence, “a reported 54% of Fortune 100 businesses use Kubernetes in some capacity and developers have made nearly a million comments on the project in GitHub.”

The Google Cloud credit grant will primarily be dedicated to funding scalability testing and maintenance of the infrastructure required for development and downloads.

Testing is not a small matter for Kubernetes. It alone will take up most of those credits. On average, Kubernetes undergoes 4.5-million tests a year. That’s not a typo.

One reason why Kubernetes cleared the field of competitors so quickly is automated testing is part of its CI/CD process. Before this move, though, only Googlers could use the testing facilities. Now all Kubernetes developers can run tests themselves.

Downloads may sound trivial.  They’re not. Denniss revealed that in July alone “the Kubernetes container registry … served 129,537,369 container image downloads of core Kubernetes components. That’s over 4 million per day—and a lot of bandwidth!”

Google expects shifting Kubernetes to a more independent community-based project will pay dividends to all Kubernetes users. Denniss wrote, “Developing Kubernetes in the open with a community of contributors has resulted in a much stronger and more feature-rich project. By sharing the operational responsibilities for Kubernetes with contributors to the project, we look forward to seeing the new ideas and efficiencies that all Kubernetes contributors bring to the project’s operations.”

Dan Kohn, the CNCF’s executive director, remarked, “With the rapid growth of Kubernetes, and broad participation from organizations, cloud providers and users alike, we’re thrilled to see Google Cloud hand over ownership of Kubernetes CI/CD to the community that helped build it into one of the highest-velocity projects of all time.”

So, if you’d been holding off from using Kubernetes because of its ties to Google, it’s time to reconsider. True, Google will still play a large role in its development, but by joining the CNCF you can help shape the future of this vital cloud container management program.

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