3 min read

Helm 3: simpler to use, more secure to operate

Helm is the best way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes, and the eagerly anticipated Helm 3 alpha is now available for testing. Try it out, give feedback, and help the Helm community get it ready for you to depend upon.

Why Helm?

Many teams already rely on Helm 2 to deploy and manage their applications on Kubernetes, the open source project that has become the de facto open source distributed systems kernel. Kubernetes usage is reportedly above 70% in large organizations as of 2018. At Microsoft, we see customer uptake of the managed Azure Kubernetes Service growing rapidly, and a great deal of our industry is focused on this space.

Kubernetes orchestrates containers, typically as a collection of services that together enable a microservice application in which various services work together to provide a larger experience. To host these workloads, many different Kubernetes components must be configured. In addition, Kubernetes has no built-in concept of an application as a logical, manageable unit, which makes application operations more difficult unless an organization dedicates staff to focusing on those primitives.

Typically, we prefer to make it simpler for cluster users to deploy and manage their applications as logical units in a self-service fashion. That’s where Helm adds value!

Helm is the package manager for Kubernetes applications

Last year, the CNCF’s cloud native survey made it clear that the “preferred method for packaging is Helm (68%) followed by managed Kubernetes offerings (19%).” Users find that Helm is a great way to:

  • Manage complexity: describe complex Kubernetes applications in a “chart.”
  • Share charts: search for shared charts on public and private chart repositories.
  • Easily update Kubernetes applications: in-place upgrades and rollbacks (which are actually roll-forwards; Helm doesn’t include time travel!) to past versions, using the release history of charts.

Making complex things easier to manage is the hallmark of a good tool and the strong adoption of Helm shows us that many people are looking for this kind of tooling.

Helm 3 is built for production scenarios in mind

Adventure. Excitement. An on-call engineer craves none of these things – operational surprises don’t help us sleep at night. Predictable and repeatable production-ready software we can operate at scale is delightful and that’s why we create tools like Helm.

If you’re using Helm already, try Helm 3 today to help the community ensure there are no surprises for your use cases. Helm 3 is the result of years of community contributions and conversations that clearly show how organizations are using Helm and how they need it to evolve for their production use cases.

Even if Helm is new for you, your input is welcome! Take a look at Helm 3 and find out how Helm charts help you bring operational simplicity and enterprise-ready stability to your Kubernetes environments.

Simpler to use, more secure to operate

Wasn’t Helm 2 already simple? If we install the same Helm chart with Helm 2 and Helm 3, the application installed will be precisely the same, just as we would expect! So, what’s the motivation behind Helm 3?

Tiller, the server-side component of Helm 2, requires additional security steps and Helm 2 was created for developers to install applications when Kubernetes did not yet have role-based access control (RBAC). This complexity isn’t needed in recent releases of Kubernetes, so for Helm 3 we were able to remove tiller entirely.

As a result, Helm 3 is significantly simpler, while also supporting all the modern security, identity, and authorization features of today’s Kubernetes. Helm 3 allows us to revisit and simplify Helm’s architecture, due to the growing maturity of Kubernetes identity and security features, like role-based access control (RBAC), and advanced features, such as custom resource definitions (CRDs).

Join the cloud-native fun!

We’re so excited for what Helm 3 will allow you to do! You can read about all the new features, such as chart reuse in chart libraries, in the blog series Helm 3: Charting Our Future and join the discussion on GitHub to make this major release the best Helm for you. We’re looking forward to connecting during sessions and deep-dives at KubeCon EU this week and can’t wait to hear your feedback on the alpha version.

Your feedback is invaluable, as the Helm community intends to make Helm 3 generally available (GA) at Helm Summit EU in September. Come share your stories and continue the conversation!