CNCF Highlights Kubernetes Progress 5 Years On

By now most IT professionals are starting to appreciate just how powerful a platform Kubernetes is. At this point, there are few IT vendors that haven’t had to change their strategy to adapt to the container orchestration engine, which has formally existed for only about five years. Back on June 6, 2014, when the first Kubernetes commit was made, no one had any idea just how big an impact it would have on IT.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)’s Project Journey Report, published today, reveals there are now 1,704 companies that have made contributions to Kubernetes. Overall, 24,000 IT professionals have made 1.1 million contributions. In total, the report notes, there have been 83,000 pull requests for Kubernetes since 2016.

The CNCF has overseen the development of Kubernetes since March 10, 2016. Executive Director Dan Kohn says the container orchestration engine has exceeded all initial expectations to the point where it has become a once-in-a-generation transformative event. However, in terms of innovation, Kubernetes should be viewed as the latest in a series of abstractions that will continue to advance state of the art in IT, says Kohn.

Kubernetes is essentially evolving into a platform for building platforms that, in turn, make it more accessible to the rest of the IT community, he notes.

The top two contributing companies are Google and Red Hat, which account for 35% of contributions. That’s down from 83% of contributions when Kubernetes became a CNCF project. Today there are more than 3,000 active contributors, up from roughly 20 actively contributing developers back in 2016.

Kohn says that while Kubernetes has crossed the proverbial chasm, the platform is by no means complete. The CNCF expects to see not only additions being made to the core platform but also all the special interest groups (SIGs) that are springing up to address specific use cases.

Adoption of Kubernetes in the enterprise may be widespread, but the percentage of applications workloads running on it in the enterprise remains comparatively light. Most enterprise IT organizations are building cloud-native applications that soon will be deployed on Kubernetes, a fact even VMware now recognizes. In the meantime, the bulk of the software running in production environments in the enterprise still consists of monolithic applications. Even when cloud-native applications based on microservices and containers are deployed more commonly, there remains a significant Kubernetes skills gap that will need to be addressed.

Kubernetes is still widely viewed as a platform developed by engineers for other engineers, not the average IT administrator. Before enterprise IT organizations decide to deploy Kubernetes more broadly, most will require access to tools that automate both the provisioning and ongoing management of the platform.

The transition to Kubernetes at this point is all but inevitable. In fact, any transition to hybrid cloud computing that prevents enterprise IT organizations from becoming locked into a cloud platform is completely dependent on Kubernetes being available everywhere. The challenge now is finding the tools and processes to turn that vision of the next era of IT into a reality.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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