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Helm, the package manager for Kubernetes, now a CNCF graduated project

Yesterday, Helm became a graduated project in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), joining a select group of projects that the CNCF recognizes for achieving majority adoption by the cloud-native community.

I want to extend congratulations and thanks both to the creators of Helm, as well as to the broader Helm community that has supported, extended, and enabled Helm to reach this significant milestone. The wider Kubernetes community is better for the foresight of Helm’s creators and the persistence of the community. Thank you!

Before the folks at Deis created Helm, there was no go-to solution in the Kubernetes landscape for packaging together and parameterizing a complete application running on Kubernetes. People who needed to collect and manage complete applications were forced to cobble together their own tools and approaches to packages. It was difficult to maintain applications that could address multiple environments and even harder to effectively collaborate on community-maintained packages for commonly deployed solutions.

Prior to the creation of the CNCF, Helm was a subproject of the Kubernetes project itself and the Helm 2 rewrite of the original Deis Helm project was a collaborative effort with the broader Kubernetes community. While I had some familiarity with the Helm project before the acquisition of Deis by Microsoft more than three years ago, getting to know the team, the project, and the community was one of the highlights of the acquisition for me.

Microsoft has played a key role in the support of the Helm project. Many of the core Helm developers are Microsoft employees who work full-time on Helm. Microsoft also supports much of the compute infrastructure necessary for developing, validating, and distributing Helm to the world. Microsoft is not alone in this support – many important community contributions have come from various companies as Helm has evolved and improved. One of the amazing things about open source is that we can find ways to work very successfully together, even when coming from sometimes competing companies.

As both the Kubernetes and Helm communities grew, it made sense to separate the Helm project from Kubernetes itself. Configuration management is an opinionated space and having any sort of configuration management tightly integrated as a single solution within Kubernetes itself doesn’t make sense. The CNCF was a natural home for Helm and Microsoft agreed, donating Helm to the CNCF as an incubating project.

Over the last few years, it has been awesome to see how the Helm project and community have flourished within the CNCF, from events like the Helm Summits to the recent milestone of becoming a graduated project. Helm is the de-facto packaging solution for cloud-native applications. More than 70% of Kubernetes users use Helm to deploy their applications. Helm itself has also evolved, with the recent Helm 3 release representing a nearly complete refactoring of the Helm codebase.

Configuration management and packaging is a tricky area of the cloud-native landscape. Designing a great solution is like designing a great programming language. It takes great insight, but also a great willingness to listen to your users and build tools that address the problems that they have today. I want to congratulate the Helm team on their journey so far. It is your talent and user obsession that has driven your success. I look forward to seeing what the Helm community accomplishes next.

Congratulations to the Helm community!