Helm Growth and Kubernetes Complexity

On June 10th 2020, Mike Vizard writing for the Container Journal wrote:

As IT organizations look to operationalize what may soon become fleets of Kubernetes clusters, the amount of time required to deploy applications on those clusters will need to be greatly reduced. Helm provides a means of accomplishing that goal using an open source tool that is not going to fade away anytime soon because of a lack of community support. That’s especially significant as IT teams start to appreciate not just the challenges associated with provisioning and maintaining Kubernetes clusters but also all the software that eventually gets deployed on them.

In all openness, this was after Mike interviewed me for the article because the CNCF launched a Helm journey report.

This paragraph, from the article, has a lot packed into it. I wanted to take a moment to unpack it and provide some context.

The opening sentence talks about reducing the time required to deploy applications. The Kubernetes manifests, represented as YAML, needed to run an application can often end up being a thousand lines long or longer. Much longer. Understanding all the fields one would use takes time to learn and understand. This is all without using any cluster extensions with add more to learn and understand.

The time to learn Kubernetes and onboard applications can be significant.

There is a need and a ripe opportunity for tools that simplify the experience to go from application to application running in Kubernetes.

Another point brought up was that Helm isn’t going to fade away soon. Helm has seen tremendous growth and there are numerous people and organizations behind it. This is important when selecting something as a tool.

Many tools in the cloud native space come and go. Last year I performed an analysis of a bunch of cloud native tools. A number of tools I looked at in the beginning of 2019 were deprecated or otherwise not being supported by the end of the year. At the end of the year there were several new tools. I was a little surprised at just how high the turnover rate was.

I don’t just point this out for Helm. I hope more tools get to the point where the possibility of them going away in the next year is very small.

The paragraph closes by talking noting that there are challenges of operating applications. The challenge, quite frankly, is both a pain and an opportunity. Some will try to solve it with solutions from vendors. Others will try to solve it with open source solutions. Some are trying to solve the challenge of complexity with more complexity. Some will try to solve it with education. Right now, there a lot of opportunity.