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Kubernetes / Open Source

How AWS Supports Open Source Work in the Kubernetes Universe

Engineers from Amazon Web Services update the New Stack Makers podcast audience on kubectl, containerd, Karpenter and more.
Dec 7th, 2023 2:26pm by
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CHICAGO — At 2022’s KubeCon+CloudNativeCon North America, in Detroit, Amazon Web Services announced it was working on a mirror of Kubernetes assets, which were hosted on Google Cloud. That, in addition to a plan to donate $3 million in cloud credits to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, were aimed at alleviating egress costs the CNCF incurs when users pull images from Google.

A year later, the project is up and running. A registry now redirects requests for images to the cloud provider closest to the user’s location, a project captained by Davanum Srinivas, known in the open source world by his handle “Dims,” a principal engineer at AWS.

“So if you’re coming from the Google Cloud, you will actually be pulling images from Google servers,” said Todd Neal, a senior software engineer at AWS, in this episode of The New Stack Makers podcast.

“If you’re coming from an AWS cloud, you’ll be pulling images from [Amazon Simple Storage Service] directly. So that way, you can avoid the egress costs,” Neal said. In the future, he added, the registry could be expanded to other cloud providers.

In this On the Road episode of Makers, recorded at 2023’s KubeCon North America, Neal and his AWS colleague, Jonathan Innis spoke to Heather Joslyn of TNS about how their company supports open source projects, with special emphasis on kubectl, the primary node agent that runs on each node in a Kubernetes cluster; containerd, which manages the container runtime, and Karpenter, a Kubernetes cluster autoscaler built with AWS.

The conversation was sponsored by AWS.

A Push for More Open Source Participation

Innis, a software engineer on the Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) team at AWS, and a maintainer on the Karpenter project, credits the arrival of Srinivas at Amazon in 2022 with being a catalyst for the company’s recent open source momentum.

“Since Dims has joined AWS, it’s been there’s been a big push … really pushing people to be more active in the open source community and contribute a lot more to these projects,” Innis said. “We’re seeing a lot of change happened recently over that.”

Among the highlights of AWS’ recent open source work:

  • Kubectl: A sidecar feature is now available in beta.
  • Containerd: The project has completed a prerelease of containerd 2.0, and “is quickly approaching that 2.0 milestone,” Neal said.
  • Karpenter: Microsoft announced support for Karpenter on Azure cloud at KubeCon North America.

Karpenter was born out of an effort to solve customer problems with Kubernetes’ cluster autoscaler, said Innis.

“There’s a bunch of cloud providers that are implemented with cluster autoscaler,” he said. “And there’s a plug-and-play aspect to it where it’ll scale up nodes that based on the groups that you have in those in the different cloud provider APIs.

“The problem that that came out of that kind of configuration was, basically, customers had to create a lot of different groups, and for a lot of the different instance types. And for AWS, specifically, we have over 700 instance types. And so customers want a lot of flexibility with which instance types they pick, based on the workloads that they specify.”

Karpenter, then, “looks at the running pods in your applications that it’s gonna launch,” Innis said. A “node pool” — a flexible node group, lets users specify requirements.

“The tool will then dynamically pick the instance type that will launch it and it will also pick the dynamically pick the [availability zone] that will launch it — and without you really having to do a whole lot of configuration.”

Rapid Feedback

The podcast guests urged other developers to contribute to these and other open source projects in the Kubernetes ecosystem. The Karpenter project is working on support for other cloud providers besides AWS and Azure.

Neal also urged the podcast audience to join the sig-node CI subproject, “where we go over test failures and try to deflect tests and just sort of improve the reliability of kubelet,” the primary node agent that runs on each K8s node.

“Sort of the nice thing about building out in the open is that you get that community feedback immediately,” Neal said. “You can put up design docs, and get community members to comment.”

That “rapid cycle of feedback,” he said, is “really sort of just a great development model for building software.”

Check out the entire episode for more on Karpenter and other projects at AWS, and how the company’s culture supports open source work.

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