As Kubernetes Hits 1.0, Google Donates Technology To Newly Formed Cloud Native Computing Foundation

Kubernetes, the open-source container management tool Google launched last February, hit version 1.0 today. With this update, Google now considers Kubernetes ready for production. What’s more important, though, Google is also ceding control over Kubernetes and is donating it to a newly formed foundation — the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) that will be run by the Linux Foundation. Other partners in the new foundation include AT&T, Box, Cisco, Cloud Foundry Foundation, CoreOS, Cycle Computing, Docker, eBay, Goldman Sachs, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Kismatic, Mesosphere, Red Hat, Switch SUPERNAP, Twitter, Univa, VMware and Weaveworks.

2015-07-20_0956The mission of this new foundation is to “help facilitate collaboration among developers and operators on common technologies for deploying cloud native applications and services,” Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin writes today.

If all of this sounds a bit familiar, it’s probably because only a few weeks ago, a very similar group of companies including Docker, Google, IBM, Intel, Mesosphere, VMware and a set of other players in the container ecosystem also got together to launch the Open Container Project. This project, which will also be managed by the Linux Foundation, will shepherd the development of a common container standard. Unlike this CNCF, though, this group also includes Google’s rivals Microsoft and Amazon, both of which are conspicuously absent from this latest project.

As Google senior product manager Craig McLuckie told me, the company decided that it wanted to find a new home for Kubernetes now that it was ready for production. “The intent is to take our technology and make it as ubiquitous as possible,” he said when I asked him about Google’s motivation to essentially cede control over the development of Kubernetes. “We want people to be able to pick a cloud. The majority of our customers work in a hybrid cloud world but want to get the benefits of this cloud native computing paradigm.”

He also noted that Google will remain very active in the project and that the company wants to succeed. Interestingly, he noted that Google even hopes Kubernetes will address some of the shortcomings of Google’s own internal tools for working with containers.

McLuckie specifically noted that while Kubernetes today works great for smaller clusters on the scale of hundreds of notes, many customers now want to be able to manage thousands of nodes. The team at Google also wants to create better integrations to support different kinds of workloads like batch processing.

It’s worth noting that Kubernetes is only the first product under the governance of the CNCF. The goal here goes far beyond this and it’s important to note that the foundation isn’t limited to Kubernetes. Instead, as Joyent CTO Bryan Cantrill also notes today, the foundation’s true mission is “to advance key open source technologies that constitute modern, elastic computing.”

Some of the details around the CNCF’s governance model still need to be worked out, it seems. As Linux Foundation president Jim Zemlin told me, though, this won’t be a pay-for-play scheme and anybody will be able to participate (which is pretty much in line with other Linux Foundation projects). The essential idea is that the entities who are contributing significant technologies will have a seat at the table. “The individual developers who are leading this technical move deserve a real and meaningful seat at the table,” Zemlin also noted. “Core developers matter.”

There are still a few large players in the container ecosystem absent from the foundation (Microsoft, Amazon, Pivotal, etc.), but Zemlin believes many stragglers will join at a later date. “I predict this technology will be too good to resist,” he said. “Those who are not participating today will change their mind later.”