News & Insights for the AI Journey|Friday, March 22, 2019
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Cloud Giants Launch Kubernetes Hub 

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The Kubernetes ecosystem continues to expand with the formation of a “operators’ hub” that serves as a public registry for finding Kubernetes-native services.

OperatorHub.io was launched this week by Red Hat in collaboration with public cloud leaders Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN), Google Cloud and Microsoft.

Originally developed in 2016 by Red Hat’s (NYSE: RHT) CoreOS unit, a Kubernetes Operator is a method of packaging, deploying and managing container-based applications. Developers liken it to a runtime that manages the application on Kubernetes.

In short, Operators are Kubernetes-native applications that can run anywhere Kubernetes can run.

The cloud partners said Thursday (Feb. 28) Operator provides “a new way to automate infrastructure and application management tasks using Kubernetes as the automation engine.” For developers and IT managers, the tool would provide cloud services like provisioning, scaling and availability while allowing services to move among Kubernetes environments without regard to underlying infrastructure.

The partners also said OperatorHub.io would provide a common registry designed to help developers and Kubernetes administrators find vetted Operator-based services. “We are helping to address this challenge by introducing a common registry to publish and find available Operators,” Diane Mueller, Red Hat’s director of community development and cloud platforms, noted in a blog post.

Along with listing trusted Kubernetes Operators, the registry will be expanded as new ones are vetted and certified, Mueller added.

The partners said they are collaborating to evaluate Kubernetes Operators added to the registry against a checklist that includes the ability to show Kubernetes cluster packaging features that can be maintained through a lifecycle management tool. Basic documentation would also be listed on the Kubernetes registry.

Operators currently listed on hub include the AWS Operator and the CoreOS etcd Operator along with a growing list of database tools from Crouchbase, CrunchyData, MongoDB (NASDAQ: MDB), Percona and Redis. A list of known Operators is here.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), which released Kubernetes as open source in 2014 and has since seen the cluster orchestrator emerge as a de facto industry standard for managing application containers, said it has since focused on “qualifying community developed operators.”

In announcing the Kubernetes registry, Aparna Sinha, Google Cloud’s group product manager, said more than 40 percent of its Kubernetes engine clusters are running stateful applications in which data is retained between sessions.

The Operator framework plays “an important role in enabling lifecycle management of stateful applications on Kubernetes,” Sinha added. “The creation of OperatorHub.io provides a centralized repository that helps users and the community to organize around Operators.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) said internal and customer use of Kubernetes Operators is growing on its Azure cloud for managing application containers.

Red Hat, which is in the process of being acquired by IBM (NYSE: IBM), said the Operator hub initiative seeks to further lower barriers for managing applications via Kubernetes. “We believe that Operator-backed services play a critical role in lowering this barrier by enabling application owners to use services that can provide the flexibility of cloud services [across] Kubernetes environments,” Red Hat’s Mueller added.

“The concept of running an application and integrating it natively in Kubernetes from a lifecycle perspective has gotten tremendous adoption throughout the open source and Kubernetes community,” said Daniel Messer, an OpenShift product manager at Red Hat. “It’s amazing how much traction there is and how much contribution there is in this ecosystem as what seems to be becoming the new way of running applications.”

A guide for contributing a Kubernetes Operator to the registry is available here.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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