Kubernetes community crucible

I’ve been watching and lurking on the edges of the Kubernetes community for this past cycle of development. We are closing on the feature freezes for the 1.6 release, and it is fascinating to watch the community evolve.

These next several upcoming releases are a crucible for Kubernetes as a project and community. They have moved from Google to the CNCF, but the reality of the responsibility transition is still in progress. They made their first large moves and efforts to handle the explosive growth of interest in their project and the corresponding expansion of community. The Kubernetes 1.6 release was supposed to be a “few features, but mostly stability” after the heavy changes that led into 1.5, recognizing a lot of change has hit and stabilization is needed. This is true technically as well as for the community itself.

The work is going well: the SIG’s are delegating responsibility pretty effectively and most everyone is working to pull things forward. That is not to say it is going perfectly. The crucible isn’t how it dealt with the growth, but how it deals with the failures and faults of the efforts to handle that growth. One highlight is that although 1.6 was supposed to be about stability, the test flakiness has risen again. The conversation in last week’s community meeting highlighted it, as well as discussed what could be done to shift back to reliability and stability as a key ingredient. Other issues include project-wide impacts that SIG’s can have, the resolution to that being a lot of the community project and product manager focus over the past months.

This week’s DevOpsWeekly newsletter also highlighted some end user feedback: some enthusiastically pro-Kubernetes, another not so much. The two posts are sizzling plates of feedback goodness for the future of Kubernetes – explanations of what’s effective, what’s confusing, and what could be better – product management gold.

  • Thoughts on Kubernetes by Nelson Elhage is an “enthusiastic for the future of the project” account from a new user who clearly did his research and understood the system, pointing out rough edges and weak points on the user experience.
  • Why I’m leaving Kubernetes for Swarm by Jonathan Kosgei highlights the rougher-than-most edges that exist around the concept of “ingress” when Kubernetes is being used outside of the large cloud providers, highlighting that Docker swarm has stitched together a pretty effective end-user story and experience here.

I think the project is doing a lot of good things, and have been impressed with the efforts, professionalism, and personalities of the team moving Kubernetes forward. There is a lot of passion and desire to see the right thing done, and a nice acknowledgement to our myopic tendencies at times when holistic or strategic thoughts are needed. I hope the flaky tests get sorted without as much pain as the last round, and the community grows from the combined efforts. I want to see them alloyed in this crucible and come out stronger for it.

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