Back in the early days of OpenStack, much of the criticism about the open source cloud computing initiative came from those who bemoaned the poor level of interoperability between different distributions. You would have thought that all the different flavors of OpenStack were largely interoperable, but it wasn’t until many years into the project that any level of interoperability really existed.

Over at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, the body tasked with furthering the interests of all the different open source projects relating to cloud-native infrastructure, they seem to have learned from the past and are focusing on how to ensure interoperability for the most popular project that comes under their jurisdiction, Kubernetes.

This is vitally important since fragmentation is a huge risk for these vendor-driven open source projects – in the absence of a benign dictator (come back Linus Torvalds, all is forgiven!) it rests on the various foundations to ensure standards. Of course the multitude of different projects that come under CNCF’s purview (Kubernetes, Fluentd, linkerd, Prometheus, OpenTracing, gRPC, CoreDNS, containerd, rkt, CNI, Envoy, Jaeger, Notary, and TUF, for example) begs some more questions about complexity and sprawl, but that’s a topic for another day).

And so it is today with the announcement from the CNCF that it is launching a program, the Kubernetes Software Conformance Program, which has the responsibility of certifying Kubernetes products for consistency and portability. And the program is launching with a bang, with a full list of 36 different Kubernetes distributions and platforms which meet the Foundation’s interoperability guidelines. The vendors have all used an automated test suite to demonstrate their conformance to the CNCF. And the list is (drum roll, please):

  • Alibaba Cloud, Alibaba Cloud Kubernetes
  • Apprenda, Kismatic Enterprise Toolkit (KET)
  • Appscode, Pharmer
  • Caicloud, Compass
  • Canonical, Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes
  • Cisco Systems, Cisco Container Platform
  • Cloud Foundry Foundation, Cloud Foundry Container Runtime
  • CoreOS, Tectonic, bootkube
  • DaoCloud, DaoCloud Enterprise
  • Docker, Docker Enterprise Edition
  • Google, Google Kubernetes Engine
  • Heptio, AWS-Quickstart
  • Huawei, Huawei Cloud Container Engine
  • IBM, IBM Container Service and IBM Private Cloud
  • Loodse, Kubermatic Container Engine
  • Mesosphere, Kubernetes on DC/OS
  • Microsoft, Azure ACS-Engine
  • Mirantis, Mirantis Cloud Platform
  • Netease, Netease Container Service Dedicated
  • Oracle, Oracle Container Engine, Oracle Linux, Oracle Terraform Kubernetes Installer
  • Pivotal/VMware, Pivotal Container Service (PKS)
  • Poseidon, Typhoon
  • Rancher, Inc., Rancher Kubernetes
  • Red Hat, OpenShift
  • SAP, Cloud Platform – Gardener
  • SUSE, SUSE CaaS (Container as a Service) Platform
  • Samsung SDS, Kraken
  • Stackpoint, StackPointCloud
  • Tencent Cloud, Tencent Cloud Container Service
  • Weaveworks, kubeadm
  • Wise2c, WiseCloud

Commenting on the news, Dan Kohn, Executive Director of the CNCF explains that:

The new Kubernetes Software Conformance Certification gives enterprise organizations the confidence that workloads that run on any Certified Kubernetes Distribution or Platform will work correctly on any other version. The interoperability that this program ensures is essential to Kubernetes meeting its promise of offering a single open source software stack supported by many vendors that can deploy on any public, private or hybrid cloud.

The Kubernetes Architecture SIG is the final arbiter of the definition of API conformance for the program. The program also includes strong guarantees that commercial providers of Kubernetes will continue to release new versions to ensure that customers can take advantage of the rapid pace of ongoing development.

The rise and rise of Kubernetes is, of course, sweet music to Google who originally open sourced the project. Commenting on this announcement, Eyal Manor, VP Engineering, Google Cloud, said that:

From the day Google first open-sourced Kubernetes, the goal has been to provide a highly portable cloud native platform for developers to quickly deploy services on premises, in public cloud, and in hybrid environments. The Kubernetes Software Conformance Certification is a way for vendors to prove they are offering pure Kubernetes, with continuous, seamless upgrades, giving users assurance that they can continue to benefit from the innovation and portability Kubernetes offers. We continue to provide that experience in Google Kubernetes Engine (formerly Google Container Engine).


What’s not to like? As I mentioned, it took OpenStack years to ensure interoperability – I remember an OpenStack Summit with a massive long desk in the keynote piled high with laptops from the various distribution vendors showing off that their products were interoperable – this after many years of development in the wild.

CNCF has learned from the mistakes of others and this interoperability check is a key step in the process of really creating something broad.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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