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Meet Kubo. BOSH-Powered, Web-Scale Release Engineering for Kubernetes

By Richard Seroter, Pivotal Senior Director of Product

March 13, 2017

My boss has a problem. Ian's addiction to browser tabs is nearing legendary status. Every time he screen shares, I have a panic attack. To make his life easier, Ian found this Chrome plugin that suspends tabs and saves memory. Now he now tells everyone about it. Why? Because like you or I, when Ian finds a technique or tool that can help others, he shares it. That's what Google and Pivotal just did. We took the proven infrastructure management capabilities of BOSH, pointed it at Kubernetes, and open-sourced it as Kubo.

What's BOSH? It's open-source software designed to provision and manage large distributed systems. Think VM build tool, plus configuration management, mix in health management and logging, all sprinkled with expert opinions. It's powered Pivotal Cloud Foundry for years, and helps Pivotal customers create consistent environments that are self-healing and updated with zero downtime. And it's not just for building and running a web-scale application fabric like Cloud Foundry's Elastic Runtime. Crunchy Data uses BOSH to give Pivotal customers highly available PostgreSQL clusters, on-demand. With that in mind, when our customers told us about their challenges getting Kubernetes stood up and operated consistently (example), we sensed an opportunity to help. That's where Kubo comes in.

In this alpha release, Kubo delivers a highly-available, BOSH-managed Kubernetes environment. On the roadmap is the ability to provision dedicated clusters through a Cloud Foundry service broker. Developers will simply type "cf create-service kubernetes" in the CLI and get a dedicated cluster. Today, BOSH builds out a highly-available Kubernetes environment (i.e. multiple masters and workers, and cluster of etcd nodes), and keeps it running. Repair and upgrade environments? BOSH has it covered. And this works wherever Pivotal Cloud Foundry is installed: on-premises in OpenStack or vSphere, or in public IaaS like Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, or AWS.

You might ask yourself, why would Pivotal spend time making the Kubernetes experience better? Don't we have our own mature, tested-at-scale container scheduler in Cloud Foundry? We sure do, and our customers depend on it for helping them focus on software, not infrastructure management. But these customers are the biggest companies in the world, and run a variety of workloads. Some use languages or application architectures where simple containerization offers modest, but useful efficiency gains. That's good enough. Or customers have commercial apps that demand full control of the entire software stack. In those cases, they want raw access to a scheduler. While Pivotal Cloud Foundry is the preferred platform for cloud-native apps, our customers wanted the freedom to take on more responsibility for the software stack, when needed. Pivotal Cloud Foundry now delivers unified lifecycle management (thanks to BOSH!) for whichever cloud runtime abstraction our customers choose.

Right now, Kubo is in alpha release, and a pair of industry-leading customers are already using it. We've been working on Kubo with a team from Google Cloud Platform for months, and will continue to evolve the project as we collect feedback from customers and the community at large. As leading contributors to a variety of open source projects—including Cloud Foundry, BOSH, Spring, RabbitMQ, Greenplum, Geode, and Concourse—we know the importance of trust and openness with the open source community. We’re looking forward to working closely on Kubo with the Kubernetes community.

If you're interested in learning more about Kubo, check out the OSS repos (scripts and manifests in one, BOSH release in the other), and our Pivotal landing page for Kubo.

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