The Cloud Native Computing Foundation has managed to herd cats. The foundation, which controls development of Kubernetes, was able to get 36 member organization to agree to a set of standards for the container orchestration platform. Kubernetes has already become the standard for container management, and this new agreement makes sure that Kubernetes always means what admins and DevOps think it means, regardless of vendor.
Announced on Monday, the Certified Kubernetes Conformance Program assures that releases wearing the trademarked "Certified Kubernetes" label contain a standardized set of underlying APIs to guarantee portability. This means that all containers spun up with use of Kubernetes will behave the same, no matter whose version of Kubernetes is being used.
Why is this important? Because a lack of standards ensuring consistency in a multivendor project such as Kubernetes leaves the door open for creeping vendor lock-in, which can damage the brand.
Take Unix as a cautionary example. The operating system ruled the roost on servers at the end of the 20th century. Trouble was, there were multiple, vendor specific versions of Unix, and since none were compatible with others, this led to the rise of Unix-like Linux as the dominant server OS. This is because customers and users like to know that when push-comes-to-shove they can switch vendors, or use the same product from multiple vendors, without having to deal with compatibility issues.
This ease-of-compatibility consideration is especially true in today's multicloud environment, where convenience or cost might dictate using Kubernetes from different vendors on different clouds, a point made by Mirantis's Nick Chase: "The Certified Kubernetes program enables customers to be confident in the interoperability of the product or service that they choose, which is crucial in this multi-cloud world."
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"The new Certified Kubernetes Conformance Program gives enterprise organizations the confidence that workloads that run on any Certified Kubernetes Distribution or Platform will work correctly on any other version,” Dan Kohn, the executive director of CNCF said in a statement. "The interoperability that this program ensures is essential to Kubernetes meeting its promise of offering a single open source software stack supported by many vendors that can deploy on any public, private or hybrid cloud."
So far, 32 products can be advertised as Certified Kubernetes, mostly from brand name tech companies such as Cisco, Docker, IBM, Microsoft and Red Hat. Docker is on the list because even though the company already has its own built-in orchestration app, Swarm, it saw the light in October and began shipping with Kubernetes integrated into its flagship offering. The same with Mesosphere, which is now also Certified Kubernetes.
"We are thrilled to see the introduction of the Certified Kubernetes program to ensure its consistency and safeguard against forks of the project that degrade the user experience,” Tobi Knaup, Mesosphere's CTO and co-founder, said in a statement. "At Mesosphere, we are committed to enabling teams to easily install and operate 100-percent pure Kubernetes clusters that are highly available, secure by default, and integrate easily with the production-grade data services that DC/OS has to offer."
Going forward, I expect IT departments will look for Certified Kubernetes branding the same way everyone once looked for the UL approval label before plugging an appliance into the wall.