Applying Open Practices — Kubernetes

In this fourth article in our series on being ‘Open by Design’ we take a closer look at Kubernetes, an open source container solution which in its short two years of existence, has grown a velocity of contributors which is unprecedented among open source projects. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)’s strategic approach to structuring an initial coalition of member organisations, and their focus on growing membership, has been key to this success.

The strategic intent behind Kubernetes is well documented in the industry by now. The project’s origins are lay in an internal container management system that began life in 2005, “Borg”, developed in-house at Google and essential in scaling Google’s many, massive services. By 2015 the commercial cloud hosting market had become a lucrative business — notably for Amazon — and Google was seeking ways to address the market. Google took the learning from Borg, used it to develop Kubernetes, and established it as an anchor project under the Linux Foundation — the CNCF — to serve as steward and growth engine for an ecosystem of cloud native computing applications, effectively lowering switching costs from Amazon’s AWS to other cloud providers.

“Google developed Kubernetes based on their 15 years of experience running all of their infrastructure on top of containers. They were willing to give away all of this knowledge because a ubiquitous, open source container orchestration platform would help level the playing field between Google Cloud and its top competitors, Amazon and Microsoft.”
Dan Kohn, Executive Director — Cloud Native Computing Foundation

As is the case with the majority of open source projects, Kubernetes was established through Gifting valuable software, and then benefitting from the collective efforts of a larger community of software engineers who enhance and maintain it by Creating Together. Where the project really stands out, however, is the decision to strategically Network Common Interests with the establishment of a founding set of influential members of the CNCF, whose workforce joined forces to enhance and grow the project. By inviting a carefully-selected set of influential founding member firms with a shared mission, the CNCF ensured wide, early adoption of an open-source container solution that could weaken Amazon Web Services’ grip on the market.

The CNCF has continued to solidify a network and ensure longevity of the project by diversifying with scaled memberships, as well as options for SMEs, individuals and academic institutions. The work of the foundation staff is primarily focused on this effort — matching new engagement models to the needs of member communities and ensuring continued PR and promotion of the platform through conferences and articles about the platform.

Benefits CNCF Realises Via Participation Modes

By serving as the neutral collaborative forum of the set of partners with Common Interests, the CNCF relies on collaboration to ensure wide Market Share & Adoption of Kubernetes and the growing collection of Cloud Native Computing Foundation projects. The CNCF members achieve Better Products & Service, and Lowered Product Development Costs through sharing a workforce of developers.

Gitte Jonsdatter & Alex Klepel