Keptn reaches incubating status in the CNCF!

Oleg Nenashev
keptn
Published in
8 min readJul 15, 2022

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In June 2022, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) voted for promoting Keptn to the incubating status in the foundation. So, as the CNCF announced on July 13th, Keptn is now an incubating project! This is a huge milestone for the project and its community, and it enables us to facilitate the adoption and further evolution of the project. Huge thanks to all contributors and community members. 🙇

Land Ahoy! Keptn lands in the CNCF Incubator

Keptn became popular as an event-driven orchestration engine that connects observability with operations in cloud-native applications. The project uses a declarative approach to build scalable automation for delivery and operations, evaluates Service Level Indicators (SLIs), and provides a dashboard, alerts, and auto-remediation for them.

Keptn is a new way of thinking around observability and the automation of events,” said Alex Jones, director of Kubernetes at Canonical, CNCF TAG App Delivery tech lead. “We’re now able to build intelligent signal-driven systems that help us to scale in a reliable, deterministic manner. I am excited to see those managing cloud native lifecycles finally answer their calls for a complete solution.

Keptn, categorized as a CI/CD tool on the CNCF Landscape

Keptn also has great support for GitOps and progressive delivery use-cases, which are becoming more and more popular. It became one of the top usage areas of Keptn, thanks to its integrations with ArgoCD, Helm and Istio that allow Keptn to orchestrate delivery while monitoring SLIs of the system and even, if needed, invoking additional quality gates.

“As more organizations adopt cloud native technologies, leveraging the latest SRE best practices becomes critical for scaling organizations,” said Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of CNCF. “Keptn combines an extensible integration ecosystem with GitOps practices and SLO-driven automation. We’re excited to have Keptn in the Incubator and look forward to cultivating its community to the next level.

How did Keptn start?

Keptn was created in 2019 inside Dynatrace as an internal tool to manage Dynatrace SaaS platform operations. At that point the company was adopting the best Site Reliability Engineering practices and needed a tool to bridge the gap between its observability platform and CD tools.

After Keptn was born. the team saw that the company’s customers and partners were facing the same issues, and it was decided to make Keptn an open source project so that everyone could adopt it. A few dozens companies quickly started using it, and the ecosystem started growing beyond Dynatrace use-cases, including, i.e., Prometheus integration as an SLA provider.

In 2020, Dynatrace donated Keptn to the CNCF as a sandbox project to emphasize its intent to grow Keptn as an open-source project and ecosystem open to all individual and company contributors. If you’re curious to know more about those early days of Keptn, see this “How Keptn Started” video by Johannes Bräuer.

Since joining CNCF, the project has grown tenfold in the number of adopters with more than 100 production instances and more than 40 companies using Keptn, including Citrix, Dynatrace, T-Systems, and more. The project also welcomed more contributors and dozens of new integrations created by its adopters and end users. The community developed a specification for application lifecycle cloud events and contributed to the CDEvents standard in the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF). So, in June 2021 the community applied for the incubating status, Jürgen Etzlstorfer and then Oleg Nenashev led this effort.

When we initially started Keptn in 2019, our goal was to deeply integrate it into the cloud native ecosystem and provide value for the end user,” said Jürgen Etzlstorfer, developer engagement lead for Austria at Microsoft and Keptn maintainer. “The newly achieved incubating status in CNCF has proven this. It has been an exciting journey, and a big thanks to everyone who contributed to Keptn and helped in unlocking this huge milestone.

Jürgen Etzlstorfer and the Keptn cake at the 1 years in the CNCF celebration party

What does the CNCF Incubation give us?

As a CNCF-hosted project, Keptn joins 37 other incubating technologies as part of a neutral foundation aligned with its technical interests and The Linux Foundation, which provides governance, marketing support, and community outreach. The Keptn community is looking forward to evolving the project, adding more integrations, interoperability through standard interfaces, and adopting best practices for cloud native computing. By being a part of the CNCF, we are directly involved in all those efforts.

Keptn improves the application delivery process with production-level quality gates, and SLO/SLI focused delivery strategies,” said Harry Zhang, the CNCF TOC member. “It integrates with various CI/CD, GitOps, APM, and monitoring systems as the continuous delivery control plane, bringing confidence to those managing applications on cloud native infrastructure. We look forward to seeing Keptn get wider adoption during its incubation stage.

In the CNCF landscape, Keptn joins the cohort of many popular orchestration engines. Its unique value proposition is observability-driven operations making Keptn a handy tool for Site Reliability Engineering use-cases.

SLOs drive Keptn‘s orchestration decision, and I think it is one of the reasons we saw rapid adoption leading to incubation,” said Andreas Grabner, DevOps Activist at Dynatrace and Keptn co-founder. “Keptn brings “SRE in a Box” to the existing toolchain of our users — allowing them to deploy and operate their critical services in alignment with their SLOs without changing their deploy, test, observability, and notification or change management tools.

As a part of the CNCF, Keptn will continue evolving to deeply integrate with the rest ecosystem, with a target of becoming an industry-standard solution for observability and event driven operations.

I am very excited to see Keptn go from a Sandbox project to incubating,” said Ana Medina, staff developer advocate at Lightstep and Keptn advisory board member. “Watching the Keptn ecosystem grow has been quite rewarding. I love hearing the user stories and can’t wait to see what Keptn teaches many SREs and other folks in infrastructure engineering organizations. We finally get to focus on real work as Keptn uses real data and metrics such as SLOs/SLIs to move applications to the next stage. I’m so thankful to work with such a great team of maintainers, community, and advisory board.

Learn more and find industry quotes in the announcement by the CNCF.

CNCF Blogpost on Keptn Incubation

Try out Keptn!

Try out Keptn and join us in the journey! We have a new Killercoda based interactive tutorial that allows everyone to quickly evaluate what Keptn is. Should you want to dive deeper, there are many case studies and hands-on demos available on our YouTube Channel.

Keptn interactive tutorial (powered by Killercoda)

What’s next for us?

The Keptn community is looking forward to evolving the project, adding more integrations, interoperability through standard interfaces, and adopting best practices for cloud native computing. The project has a public roadmap showing upcoming initiatives in the community, including but not limited to:

  • Keptn & GitOps — Add support for managing Keptn via GitOps and a control repository, including deep integrations with Flux and ArgoCD. There are many initiatives happening around these stories: New Keptn GitOps Operator preview, architecture changes targeting Keptn management, and GSoC projects targeting support for full configuration through Custom Resource Definitions, and Keptn management via external Continuous Deployment tools. Learn more in the How to GitOps with Keptn? video by Thomas Schuetz and Andreas Grabner
  • Grow the integrations ecosystem. We want to have more integrations with tools in the cloud native ecosystem, from observability to modern operations tools. Some integrations on our list: Datadog and Sumo Logic SLI providers, new integration services for Crossplane and k6, deep integration with ArgoCD and Argo Rollouts. Also, we want to continue evolving external integrations like Jenkins pipeline library or a new Keptn plugin for Backstage. More integrations will be also added via generic Webhook and Job Executor services.
  • Cloud Native enterprise readiness and Role-based Access Control (RBAC) — Keptn instances grow bigger and bigger, and we want to enable our users to run Keptn at scale. It includes supportability improvements (e.g. OpenTelemetry integrations), stabilization of preview features, performance improvements and security hardening. User authorization and RBAC will also allow fine-grained access control and user authorization for interacting with Keptn.
  • Adoption of the CDEvents standard in Keptn so that it can talk to all CI/CD system in a universal language. We plan to adopt the upcoming v0.1 of the specification, and to contribute back additional events used by Keptn in its open specification.
  • Documentation and tutorials. We plan to completely rework how we provide Keptn documentation so that users can easily access all necessary information for their Keptn versions and that Keptn maintainers could fully adopt Documentation-as-Code. To do that, we’re working on a new documentation engine powered by Docusaurus. We also plan to provide easy-to start interactive tutorials that do not require local infrastructure.
  • Last but not least, a Keptn 1.0 release!

Ultimately, the Keptn roadmap is driven by its community and contributors who develop the Keptn core, integration services, and other components of the project. So, it’s [always] great time to contribute!

A slice of the Public Keptn Roadmap. Check out the GitHub Project for the actual info

Join the community!

We welcome new participants and contributors to the Keptn community, regardless of your background and experience! We have a Slack workspace with many topic-focused channels, and we run regular user group and contributor meetings. You can learn more about the community here.

To get started, join us on Keptn Slack. There are many channel, including 24/7 community driven help channels for newcomer contributors and users. And make sure to meet us at KubeCon | Cloud Native Con North America for the Keptn Community Day and the incubation party. The announcements are coming soon!

Keptn Crew at Kubecon | Cloud Native Con. Join us in Detroit!

Follow us on Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. You can also sign up to newsletter. We only send project and community updates — no spam — a captain’s promise!

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Oleg Nenashev
keptn

Oleg is a community builder, FOSS and Open Hardware advocate working at the Dynatrace OSPO. He is a TOC chair in the CDF, and a Jenkins and Keptn maintainer.