CNCF Publishes Latest Technology Radar Focused on Multicluster Management –

CNCF published the fifth edition of the End User Technology Radar. This time the theme was multicluster management split between cluster deployment and core services and add-ons related to tooling and day-two operations. The Technology Radar team reported five themes that came out of this survey: lack of complete solutions, need for custom tooling, most common tools, popularity of Operators, and Cluster API readiness. 



Courtesy of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation


The first theme is that there’s no silver bullet for multicluster management. While there are many tools available, few, if any, stand out as complete solutions. 

According to the radar team findings, HashiCorp’s Terraform and custom tools were among the popular choices for deployment.  Also, the team observed that as the number of clusters deployed increased and passed a certain threshold, there was a shift to managed Kubernetes.This includes both private and public cloud.

Federico Hernandez, a principal engineer at Meltwater, one of participating companies in the survey underscored how fractured the cluster management space currently is:

Everyone starts with one Kubernetes cluster and expands and grows their environments from there, but currently, there is no clear path for organizations starting this journey.

The second theme is that regardless of what is used for deploying and managing clusters, custom tooling is usually necessary. Because of the flexibility and complexity that the Kubernetes platform provides in terms of networking, storage, platform engineers build in-house solutions to configure those layers as well as handle them together. This allows them to handle the components of the platform safely while making sure company policies are enforced. 


Courtesy of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation


The third theme is about the tools for managing core services such as DNS, namespaces, RBAC, etc. Kubernetes Operators, Helm, custom in-house tools, Kustomize, and GitOps were most widely used. The radar team observed that Helm is usually adopted together with GitOps including Argo and Flux tools.   

The fourth theme is in respect of Kubernetes Operators, a software extension of Kubernetes that utilizes custom resources to manage applications. They were the standout with 24 votes in the core services category.

The radar team pointed out the key benefits of operators include being able to replace custom-tooling to solve a particular problem, making it easy to extend Kubernetes uniformly, and automating tasks that are usually done by application owners or service maintainers.    

The fifth and final theme is concerning Cluster API, a Kubernetes sub-project that provides declarative APIs and tooling to simplify provisioning, configuring, upgrading, and operating multiple clusters.

Despite being adopted by some participating companies, the radar team felt more testing is needed to take place before it’s mature and production-ready.  Also, the team underscored the success stories circulating on social media of Cluster API reducing complexity and alleviating pain points related to operating multiple clusters.

In this survey, more than 24 companies participated and contributed 210 data points.  The team chooses the topic based on suggestions from the community. Later on, the 140 members of the CNCF end-user community are tasked with describing what their companies recommend for a list of different solutions and place them in one of three categories: Adopt, Trial, or Assess.

Per the webinar of this edition, the results of the survey conducted in June 2021 are limited to 140 end-user companies, including Mattermost, Meltwater, Fidelity Investments, Workday, and Spotify. 

Users from the community can recommend or vote for future radar topics.  Also, feedback can be sent to [email protected].