Kubernetes Conformance Workgroup: An Overview

Kubernetes continues to experience tremendous growth in both customer adoption and also the number of vendors providing a Kubernetes platform. The number of software developers contributing to Kubernetes continues to increase as well.

Great crowd at CloudNativeCon/KubeCon Berlin!
For software developers, the Kubernetes project is a great opportunity to implement cool new features and capabilities. For end users, new features are always welcome of course. But also critical for end users is that different Kubernetes platforms be interoperable. What this means is that workloads should be portable to different Kubernetes platforms. If for some reason an end user wants to move his or her workload to a different Kubernetes platform this should be easy to do. A key reason why customers embrace open source based platforms like Kubernetes is because customers want to avoid vendor lock-in. Experience has shown us that sooner is better when deciding to kick off an interoperability initiative for an open source project. If the open source community “kicks the can down the road” and defers focusing on interoperability, significant divergence can creep into the open source project and it can take an enormous amount of time and energy to bring convergence back to the open source community.

Fortunately, the Kubernetes community has decided to tackle this issue early. We have already formed a Kubernetes Conformance Workgroup. This workgroup, chaired by William Denniss, focuses on providing a conformance/certification program for Kubernetes platforms. The goal of this effort is to ensure that workloads are portable for end-users across Kubernetes platforms. The workgroup originally formed as a BoF meeting at CloudNativeCon/KubeCon Berlin in March of this year.

Updates from our April F2F Meeting

The workgroup held its most recent F2F in April during DockerCon Austin The meeting was hosted by Dan Kohn, Executive Director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and William Denniss presented this deck. At the April F2F Conformance Workgroup Meeting, two key topics discussed were the identification of the initial set of conformance tests and the creation of conformance profiles.

Strawman set of conformance tests
The Kubernetes project has a large number of end to end tests. A subset of these tests are focused on conformance and these tests are labeled [Conformance]. For more details on which tests are conformance tests and how to run just these tests please see the documentation focused on conformance tests. At the April F2F meeting participants were asked to go run the conformance tests to determine how many of the tests their Kubernetes platform was able to pass. The workgroup also agreed that conformance tests should be moved to their own repository and our participants should work with Kubernetes SIG Test on the creation of this repository. Many of the participants agreed to provide volunteers to help maintain the new repository.

Conformance Profiles
Another key topic discussed at the April F2F meeting was the notion of Conformance Profiles. In Kubernetes environments, there may be some feature groups that some platforms have and others don’t. For example some Kubernetes environments may be multi-tenant and others may be single tenant. The general consensus was that if we ran into the issue of different feature groups that could not be resolved then we could map conformance profiles to each feature group. There was strong agreement and desire to keep the number of conformance profiles to a bare minimum. In fact we are initially starting with a single base profile and will only add new profiles over time as distinct new feature groups are clearly identified.

Conformance Initiatives aren’t boring: They can actually be lots of fun

OpenStack Barcelona Interop Challenge.
You may think interoperability/conformance initiatives are boring. In truth, once they get going it turns out that they can be lots of fun and lead to dramatic and suspenseful multi-vendor keynote demos. For a taste of what’s possible I encourage you to check out the OpenStack Barcelona Summit Interop Challenge and the OpenStack Boston Summit Interop Challenge Phase 2. Just imagine the adrenaline rush of being on stage with 16+ vendors all on stage running the same workloads on their own clouds with an audience filled with press and analysts secretly hoping to see a tire fire commence. And proving them wrong!

Next F2F Meeting and Contacts for More Information

The next in person meeting will be Tuesday May 30th in San Francisco. If you would like more information on the Kubernetes Conformance Workgroup, you are more than welcome to reach out to me (btopol@us.ibm.com, @bradtopol on Twitter) or you can contact William Denniss, the Kubernetes Conformance Workgroup Chair (wdenniss@google.com, @WilliamDenniss on Twitter). We sincerely encourage you to join us and look forward to your participation in this critical initiative!

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