36 companies agree to a Kubernetes certification standard

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) announced today that 36 members have agreed to a set of certification standards for Kubernetes, the immensely popular open source container orchestration tool. This should make it easy for users to move from one version to another without worry, while ensuring that containers under Kubernetes management will behave in a predictable way.

The group of 36 is agreeing to a base set of APIs that have to underly any version of Kubernetes a member creates to guarantee portability. Dan Kohn, executive director at CNCF, says that they took a subset of existing Kubernetes project APIs, which are treated as a conformance test that the members who have signed on, are guaranteeing to support. In practice this means that when you spin up a new container, regardless of who creates the version of Kubernetes, it will behave in a consistent way, he said.

Kohn said that the organization has been able to bring together many of the industry’s biggest names onboard. “We are thrilled with the list of members. We are confident that this will remain a single product going forward and not fork,” he said.

Forking is the act where some companies break off on their own in an open source project, creating a new and possibly incompatible version of the software. The CNCF wanted to ensure this didn’t happen, and so apparently did many of its powerful members including Microsoft, Red Hat, Alibaba, Oracle, Google and IBM along with many others.

AWS, the biggest force in public cloud computing was not among the companies signing, but the CNCF says this is simply because the company has yet to create its own version of Kubernetes (although it supports Kubernetes clusters running on AWS). When AWS joined the CNCF in August, it was a major proof point that the CNCF and Kubernetes had arrived.

Make no mistake, this a huge and somewhat miraculous occurrence to have this many diverse technology companies agree to anything, but Kohn says most of the organization came together fairly quickly around the forking concern.

“Kubernetes is skyrocketing and everyone is adopting it. When you have a high level of engagement and adoption, there is a concern whether the project is going to fork. If I have an app that works on one version, will it work on another one,” Kohn told TechCrunch.

Kubernetes has indeed become a defacto standard in the last year with just about every big name in tech joining the CNCF. Today’s announcement is about bringing some level of discipline to a growing project and it’s a significant step forward in the maturation of Kubernetes as an open source project.