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Kubernetes community takes over massive Google test bed

Google will donate $9 million in GCP resources and undergo a three-year handoff process to put a massive Kubernetes test bed under CNCF control. Users wonder, what happens next.

Google moved a step closer to making Kubernetes governance fully independent this week, as it prepares to hand over the management of a large cloud-based test infrastructure to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

The Kubernetes community will gradually take over the management of the test infrastructure used to develop upstream Kubernetes code, which was managed only by Google staffers on its Google Cloud Platform. That infrastructure includes a scalability testing cluster that spans 150,000 containers on 5000 VMs. In the past, contributors to the Kubernetes project had to go through a Google employee to deploy test code to that infrastructure.

"That's not something only a Googler should be able to do," said Tim Hockin, principal software engineer at Google Cloud and co-lead of the Kubernetes project. "The time has come to open up Kubernetes cloud resources to the Kubernetes community."

The infrastructure handover also includes the servers that host downloadable Kubernetes code for users, the kubernetes.io website and its DNS infrastructure. It's not certain who will run the infrastructure or where, but Hockin said it's unlikely to leave GCP.

It won't be a free-for-all, but it will be a way for people to contribute to Kubernetes governance more equally.
Tim Hockinco-lead, Kubernetes project

Google aims to ensure a smooth transition to the Kubernetes community with a $9 million GCP grant during the next three years. It will also work with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation's (CNCF) Kubernetes steering committee to form a management working group.

"It won't be a free-for-all, but it will be a way for people to contribute to Kubernetes governance more equally," Hockin said.

Some IT pros unsure about Kubernetes community investment long term

Enterprises will feel more confident in the independence of Kubernetes governance if the test/dev and code hosting infrastructure isn't controlled by a single corporate entity, said Dan Kohn, executive director of the CNCF.

For the most part, users agree.

"I'm happy to see the good relationship between Google and CNCF continue, and I'm glad that CNCF is getting more ownership of the infrastructure," said Kevin Burnett, DevOps lead at Rosetta Stone, a global education software company in Arlington, Va.

However, some Kubernetes users said they aren't totally confident that the CNCF will maintain the same level of investment in that infrastructure as the deep-pocketed Google, once the three-year transition period ends.

"[Initially], they have a very high level of access to resources, and when that credit runs out they will have to sustain or reduce the resources they are using," said Rick Moss, infrastructure operations engineer at MailChannels, an email service provider in Vancouver, B.C. "At pennies a packet, that's a lot of funding to sustain the level they have been given."

Moreover, Google is also uniquely qualified in Kubernetes management, since it invented the container orchestration software and uses its predecessor, Borg, to manage containers in its own webscale environment. Some Kubernetes shops wonder if the Kubernetes community can sustain that level of expertise.

"It's easy to forget how much heavy lifting goes into day-to-day maintenance of a project this large," said Cole Calistra, CTO at Kairos AR Inc., a provider of human facial recognition and analytics for developers in Miami.

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