How Kubernetes Operators Can Benefit Channel Partners, Customers

Making Kubernetes easier to use is one of the main goals of the Kubernetes Operators project.

Todd R. Weiss

April 2, 2019

5 Min Read
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Channel partners and others have gained a useful new tool – the public registry – to help their customers demystify the complications and challenging learning curve of Kubernetes deployments. includes a growing collection of integrated Kubernetes-native applications called Operators that can be used to get customers on an easier path with the open-source container management system.

Launched as a collaborative project by Red Hat, AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft, is a destination where Kubernetes Operator-backed Kubernetes-native services that have been created and tested by others can be found and reused instead of having to start from scratch when tools are needed, wrote Diane Mueller, director of community development for cloud platforms at Red Hat, in a recent blog.

“Operators are a method of packaging, deploying and managing a Kubernetes-native application,” wrote Mueller. “We define a Kubernetes application as an application that is both deployed on Kubernetes and managed using the Kubernetes APIs and kubectl tooling.”

Kubernetes users benefit from Operators because the applications can help to automate the sometimes routine, mundane and complex tasks required for an application to run on Kubernetes, according to Mueller.

“Kubernetes Operators can be found and used to automate updates, backups and scaling by using the Kubernetes command line interface (CLI) and can scan for things out of place, helping to enable a no-ops experience,” she added.

Operators are built using an Operator Framework, an open-source toolkit that provides an SDK, life-cycle management, and metering and monitoring capabilities that enable developers to build, test and publish new Operators, wrote Mueller. The applications can be implemented in several programming and automation languages, including Go, Helm and Ansible.

Operators listed on the public registry must successfully endure a series of basic tests and must also successfully show cluster life-cycle features, packaging that can be maintained through the Operator Framework’s Operator Lifecycle Management and acceptable documentation for its intended users.

So far, Operators listed in the public registry include Amazon Web Services Operator, CrunchyData’s PostgreSQL, Couchbase Autonomous Operator, etcd Operator, Jaeger Operator for Kubernetes, Kubernetes Federation Operator, MongoDB Enterprise Operator, Percona MySQL Operator, PlanetScale’s Vitess Operator, Prometheus Operator and Redis Operator.

Operators were introduced as a feature by CoreOS in 2016 and have become a popular resource in the Kubernetes community by giving developers new ways of automating infrastructure and application-management tasks using Kubernetes as the automation engine.

“With Operators, developers and Kubernetes administrators can gain the automation advantages of public cloud-like services, including provisioning, scaling, and backup/restore, while enabling the portability of the services across Kubernetes environments regardless of the underlying infrastructure,” wrote Mueller.

Still more Operators are needed, added Mueller, to continue to help developers conduct their work more easily.

“However, it remains challenging for developers and Kubernetes administrators to find available Operators, including those that meet their quality standards,” she wrote. “With the introduction of, we are helping to address this challenge by introducing a common registry to publish and find available Operators.”

Operators listed on the registry are curated Operator-backed services that include a base level of documentation, active communities or vendor-backing to fulfill maintenance commitments, basic testing and …

… packaging for optimized life-cycle management on Kubernetes, wrote Mueller.

“With the introduction of, we look forward to continuing to work across the industry in enabling the creation of more Operators as well as the evolution of existing Operators,” she added. “It is important to note that we expect the set of Operators that currently reside in to be only the start and anticipate more to be contributed over time.”

Rob Szumski, product manager for the Operator community and partnerships at Red Hat, told Channel Futures that the more than 80 open-source Operators developed so far for the registry by the open-source community and by software vendors are helping to provide an integrated experience for running and operating an application on top of any Kubernetes platform.


Red Hat’s Rob Szumski

“If you are a channel partner delivering a container-native application, an Operator allows you to run anywhere Kubernetes can run — and many companies already have it running,” said Szumski.

For channel partners, customer support is simplified, because the Operator enforces best practices and avoids customers from shooting themselves in the foot, he said. “Software is complex these days, and no one can keep tabs on every release of every app they run. Operators take the guesswork out of this process.”

One ISV partner, Rod Hamlin, the vice president of global alliances and strategic partnerships at Redis Labs, said the registry fills an important gap in the Kubernetes community by providing essential Kubernetes tooling for administrators to provision, update, scale and manage the life cycle of apps and services no matter where they reside.

“Redis Labs adopted the Operator Framework to enable our users to more efficiently deploy and manage the life cycle of their Redis Enterprise clusters,” said Hamlin. “Channel partners will be able to extend their capabilities by using Operators with prebuilt automated application provisioning, seamless upgrade, backup, failure recovery, performance monitoring and full-cycle capabilities with Helm, Ansible and Go programming languages.

“Redis Labs worked with Red Hat as an early engineering design partner in the Operator program,” said Hamlin. “Through this collaboration, our Kubernetes and Red Hat OpenShift customers have begun to experience the benefits of cloud-native application portability. The goal of containers is to make it easier to move services across different clouds. Operators are the next step in providing more advanced tooling to deploy complex stateful applications in Kubernetes.”

IT analyst Dave Bartoletti of Forrester said he sees the registry as an intriguing new tool to help companies implement Kubernetes with fewer hassles.

“Much like the establishment of Docker Hub accelerated the adoption of containers by making them easy to find and try, Operators should help companies eager to try containerized apps in their Kubernetes clusters,” especially as more vendors take part, said Bartoletti. “As Kubernetes becomes the default orchestration choice for cloud-native development platforms, anything that simplifies day-to-day operations and helps new customers find certified, tested Kubernetes apps for themselves will help accelerate enterprise adoption.”

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About the Author(s)

Todd R. Weiss

Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist who covers open source and Linux, cloud service providers, cloud computing, virtualization, containers and microservices, mobile devices, security, enterprise applications, enterprise IT, software development and QA, IoT and more. He has worked previously as a staff writer for Computerworld and, covering a wide variety of IT beats. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies and collecting toy taxis from around the world.

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