Red Hat Unveils Operator Framework for Kubernetes

Red Hat today unveiled an open source framework for integrating a suite of Operator applications that simplify the management of Kubernetes clusters.

Rob Szumski, product manager for OpenShift at Red Hat, says the Operator Framework allows IT organizations to stitch together a series of Operator applications developed by CoreOS to create their own set of workflow processes for managing Kubernetes. Red Hat acquired CoreOS earlier this year to strengthen its ability to automate the deployment and management of such clusters.

An Operator is a method of packaging, deploying and managing a Kubernetes application using a consistent set of application programming interfaces (APIs). Operators are an instance of runtime that automate the management of specific types of applications on Kubernetes. The Operator Framework provides access to a software development kit (SDK) along with a core backplane for managing the life cycle of multiple Operators. Red Hat also plans to add Operator Metering, a set of reporting tools for Operators that ties into the cluster’s CPU and memory and calculates cloud infrastructure and licensing costs.

The SDK enables IT organizations to embed an operator in an application. Specifically, the SDK facilitates the marriage of an application’s business logic with the Kubernetes API. Best practices and code patterns that are shared across Operators are included in the SDK to avoid reinventing the wheel. The Operator Framework then enables administrators to manage what Operators are available in what namespaces, who is allowed to access which Operators and what actions can be taken, such as triggering the application of updates.

Szumski says Red Hat is committed to providing the open source tooling required to manage Kubernetes, which he says is emerging as a new computer primitive for building microservices that can run anywhere in the cloud or on-premises. The challenge IT organizations face is managing all the dependencies that exist between microservices. The Operator Framework seeks to provide a standard application format for building applications that promise to make it easier to build applications for Kubernetes. To further that goal, Red Hat is proposing a “platform-dev” special interest group to merge with the existing kube-builder project from Google. Red Hat also will be demonstrating the Operator Framework this week during the KubeCon Europe + CloudNativeCon 2018 conference.

Arguably, one of the biggest things holding back adoption of Kubernetes is a scarcity of IT professionals who have expertise managing the platform. Operators make it possible for IT administrators to manage it without possessing deep knowledge of how the Kubernetes API works. They also present an opportunity to embed management functionality directly within applications running on top of Kubernetes.

Kubernetes is clearly emerging as a de facto standard for orchestrating containers. The challenge IT organizations face today is figuring out how to manage Kubernetes, which arguably slows the rate at which many IT organizations might be willing to adopt it. Red Hat is betting the IT vendor that solves that issue first is likely to become the dominant provider of container platforms for years to come.

Mike Vizard

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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