The community has released the new milestone release v1.6 of KubeVela during the 2022 Apsara Conference. This release is a qualitative change in KubeVela from application delivery to application management. It also creates a precedent in the industry to build an application platform with delivery and management integrated based on a extensible model.
KubeVela 1.5 was released recently. This release brings more convenient application delivery capabilities to the community, including system observability, CloudShell terminals that move the Vela CLI to the browser, enhanced canary releases, and optimized multi-environment application delivery workflows. It also improved KubeVela's high extensibility as an application delivery platform. The community has started to promote the project to the CNCF Incubation stage. It has absorbed the practice sharing of multiple benchmark users in many community meetings, which proves the community's healthy development. The project is now mature to some extent, and its adoption has made periodical achievements, thanks to the contributions of more than 200 developers in the community.
KubeVela is a modern software delivery control panel. The goal is to make application deployment and O&M simpler, more agile, and more reliable in today's hybrid multi-cloud environment. Since the release of Version 1.1, the KubeVela architecture has naturally solved the delivery problems of enterprises in the hybrid multi-cloud environments and has provided sufficient scalability based on the OAM model, which makes it win the favor of many enterprise developers. This also accelerates the iteration of KubeVela.
In Version 1.2, we released an out-of-the-box visual console, which allows the end user to publish and manage diverse workloads through the interface. The release of Version 1.3 improved the expansion system with the OAM model as the core and provides rich plug-in functions. It also provides users with a large number of enterprise-level functions, including LDAP permission authentication, and provides more convenience for enterprise integration. You can obtain more than 30 addons in the addons registry of the KubeVela community. There are well-known CNCF projects (such as argocd, istio, and traefik), database middleware (such as Flink and MySQL), and hundreds of cloud vendor resources.
In Version 1.4, we focused on making application delivery safe, foolproof, and transparent. We added core functions, including multi-cluster permission authentication and authorization, a complex resource topology display, and a one-click installation control panel. We comprehensively strengthened the delivery security in multi-tenancy scenarios, improved the consistent experience of application development and delivery, and made the application delivery process more transparent.
Thanks to the contribution of hundreds of developers from KubeVela community and around 500 PRs from more than 30 contributors, KubeVela version 1.3 is officially released. Compared to v1.2 released three months ago, this version provides a large number of new features in three aspects as OAM engine (Vela Core), GUI dashboard (VelaUX) and addon ecosystem. These new features are derived from the in-depth practice of many end users such as Alibaba, LINE, China Merchants Bank, and iQiyi, and then finally become part of the KubeVela project that everyone can use out of the box.
Pain Points of Application Delivery
So, what challenges have we encountered in cloud-native application delivery?
As the cloud native technologies grows continuously, more and more infrastructure capabilities are becoming standardized PaaS or SaaS products. To build a product you don't need a whole team to do it nowadays. Because there are so many services that can take roles from software developing, testing to infrastructure operations. As driven the culture of agile development and cloud native technologies, more and more roles can be shifted left to developers, e.g. testing, monitoring, security. As emphasized by the DevOps concepts, it can be done in the development phase for the work of monitoring, security, and operations via open source projects and cloud services. Nonetheless, this also creates huge challenges to developers, as they might lack the control of diverse products and complex APIs. Not only do they have to make choices, but also they need to understand and coordinate the complex, heterogeneous infrastructure capabilities in order to satisfy the fast-changing requirements of the business.
This complexity and uncertainty has exacerbated the developer experience undoubtedly, reducing the delivery efficiency of business system, increasing the operational risks. The tenet of developer experience is simplicity and efficiency. Not only the developers but also the enterprises have to choose the better developer tools and platforms to achieve this goal. This is also the focus of KubeVela v1.2 and upcoming release that to build a modern platform based on cloud native technologies and covering development, delivery, and operations. We can see from the following diagram of KubeVela architecture that developers only need to focus on applications per se, and use differentiated operational and delivery capabilities around the applications.
Initialized by Alibaba and currently a CNCF sandbox project, KubeVela is a modern application platform that focues on modeling the delivery workflow of micro-services on top of Kubernetes, Terraform, Flux Helm controller and beyond. This brings strong value added to the existing GitOps and IaC primitives with battle tested application delivery practices including deployment pipeline, across-environment promotion, manual approval, canary rollout and notification, etc.
This is the first open source project in CNCF that focuses on the full lifecycle continuous delivery experience from abstraction, rendering, orchestration to deployment. This reminds us of Spinnaker, but designed to be simpler, cloud native, can be used with any CI pipeline and easily extended.
7 Dec 2020 12:33pm, by Lei Zhang and Fei Guo
For developers, KubeVela is an easy-to-use tool that enables you to describe and ship applications to Kubernetes with minimal effort, yet for platform builders, KubeVela serves as a framework that empowers them to create developer-facing yet fully extensible platforms at ease.
The trend of cloud native technology is moving towards pursuing consistent application delivery across clouds and on-premises infrastructures using Kubernetes as the common abstraction layer. Kubernetes, although excellent in abstracting low-level infrastructure details, does introduce extra complexity to application developers, namely understanding the concepts of pods, port exposing, privilege escalation, resource claims, CRD, and so on. We’ve seen the nontrivial learning curve and the lack of developer-facing abstraction have impacted user experiences, slowed down productivity, led to unexpected errors or misconfigurations in production.
Abstracting Kubernetes to serve developers’ requirements is a highly opinionated process, and the resultant abstractions would only make sense had the decision-makers been the platform builders. Unfortunately, the platform builders today face the following dilemma: There is no tool or framework for them to easily extend the abstractions if any.
Thus, many platforms today introduce restricted abstractions and add-on mechanisms despite the extensibility of Kubernetes. This makes easily extending such platforms for developers’ requirements or to wider scenarios almost impossible.
In the end, developers complain those platforms are too rigid and slow in response to feature requests or improvements. The platform builders do want to help but the engineering effort is daunting: any simple API change in the platform could easily become a marathon negotiation around the opinionated abstraction design.