Helm Package Manager for Kubernetes Moves Forward

The official release of version 3.0 of the Helm package manager for Kubernetes is designed to make it easier for IT organizations to discover and securely deploy software on Kubernetes clusters more easily.

Taylor Thomas, a core contributor to Helm who is also a software developer for Nike, says for the last year the committee that oversees the development of Helm under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has been structuring the package manager to rely more on the application programming interfaces (APIs) that Kubernetes exposes to store records of installation. Helm Charts, which are collections of YAML files describing a related set of Kubernetes resources, now can be rendered on the client, eliminating the need for the Tiller resource management tool resident in the previous release of Helm that ran on the Kubernetes cluster.

In addition to providing a more secure way to render Helm Charts, Thomas says this approach provides a more streamlined mechanism for packaging software using Helm. Helm 3.0 also updates Helm Charts and associated libraries.
Additionally, a revamped Helm Go software development kit (SDK) is designed to make Helm more accessible, with the aim of sharing and reusing code the Helm community has open-sourced with the broader Go community, says Thomas.

Going forward, Thomas says the Helm community will focus mainly on Helm’s stability and enhancements to existing features. Additional features on the Helm road map include enhanced functionality for Helm Test, tighter integration with the container format specified by the Open Container Initiative (OCI) and enhanced functionality for the Go client libraries.

Helm was one of the earlier instances of a package manager for Kubernetes, but adoption has been spotty at best. Alternative approaches to Helm include Terraform from HashiCorp, as well as tools from vendors such as Rancher Labs that make it easier to use and consume Helm Charts that are often stored on Helm Hub.

Development of Helm is mainly driven by Microsoft, IBM, Blood Orange and Samsung SDS, the technology services arm of Samsung. Since its first alpha release, Helm 3 has benefited from contributions provided by 38 members of the Helm community. More than 500 community members have contributed code to the Helm CLI since its inception.

Many IT teams rely on Helm not only to package software for deployment on Kubernetes but also to configure Kubernetes. Less clear, however, is how many IT teams will interact directly with Helm versus another tool that abstracts away a lot of the more cumbersome workflow processes associated with using Helm charts.

Whatever the path chosen, the one thing that is clear is that as the typical IT administrator becomes tasked with managing Kubernetes clusters, the more likely it becomes they will seek out a richer graphical user experience than what Helm currently provides.

Nevertheless, Helm has already become a staple among the early adopters of Kubernetes, who are likely to view Helm 3.0 as a significant advancement over the previous generation.

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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