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Kubernetes Project Gets $9 Million Grant, Google Cuts Day-to-Day Ties

The maturing Kubernetes project will now be run by its dedicated community, without Google's everyday help to run its core infrastructure.

When Google donated its then year-old Kubernetes technology to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in 2015, it continued to use its Google Cloud Platform to provide the cloud resources to support the project development. That included CI/CD testing infrastructure, container downloads, DNS services and more.

Those arrangements are changing. Google is handing over those last ties to the Kubernetes project to the community of Kubernetes contributors who have been working to grow the platform over the last several years. To help with the transition, Google is providing $9 million in credit grants, to be paid at $3 million per year over the next three years, to provide startup funds so that contributors can take over the everyday operations of the project.

The $9 million in grant credits and Google's move to pull away from daily operations were unveiled recently by The Linux Foundation at Open Source Summit North America in Vancouver. The CNCF is part of The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit group that works to support and encourage open-source development around the world.

Under the arrangement, Google Cloud has begun the work of transferring ownership and management of the Kubernetes project's cloud resources to CNCF community contributors, which will give them responsibility for operational tasks such as testing and builds, and for maintenance and operations for the distribution of Kubernetes, according to the group. The Google Cloud credit grants will mostly be used to pay for scalability testing and maintenance of the infrastructure required to run Kubernetes development so that it continues to be groomed for enterprise use.

"All in all, I think this is a win for Google, the community and adopters of Kubernetes," Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of the CNCF, told Channel Futures. "This is all about Google opening up the operation of Kubernetes builds to the community. Historically, the Kubernetes project came from Google, so they did all the hard work of building the project by themselves; when they moved the project to CNCF, there [were] always plans to open the build to make it community-managed. This is a fulfillment of that promise, along with an amazing donation of credits to help power the build."

Chris Aniszczyk

The build tooling and configuration details for Kubernetes have always been open source, but Google has continued to run the actual deployments since the project began as an internal Google project in 2014, said Aniszczyk.

"This is about opening up access to operation of the build/deployments," he said.

The changes are a positive development for the Kubernetes community, he added.

"It's actually great to see Google do this and share the burden with the community; it was unfair for them to keep this burden, and it is mature of them as an organization to fully open this up."

Google's contribution of the Kubernetes project occurred soon after the creation of CNCF in late 2015. Google Cloud had continued to manage and fund the Kubernetes CI/CD processes since that time. Kubernetes has grown into one of the world's most popular open-source projects and is running in more than one-half of Fortune 100 companies for container orchestration, according to research from RedMonk.

Dan Olds, principal analyst with Gabriel Consulting Group, said that the Google announcements mean that Kubernetes is here to stay.

"They have a very large user base and now they have enough funding to handle engineering and building their business case," said Olds. "When it comes to the channel, there shouldn't be any hesitation to recommend Kubernetes when working with customers who need to manage a myriad of containers."

Dan Olds

Kubernetes has taken the data center by storm and without much fanfare, quickly becoming the No. 1 choice when it comes to managing containers and as a quasi-cloud platform, said Olds.

Another analyst, Matthew Kimball of Moor Insights & Strategy, agrees that Kubernetes has quickly grown into a dominant force in enterprise IT architectures.

"Google has a vested interest in ensuring that a vibrant open-source community continues to innovate and support Kubernetes, so its investment is strategically smart," said Kimball.

In a recent post on the Google Cloud blog, William Denniss, the product manager for Google Kubernetes Engine, wrote that in July, the Kubernetes container registry hosted by Google served nearly 130 million container image downloads of core Kubernetes components.

"That's over 4 million per day — and a lot of bandwidth," he wrote.

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