How the streaming music service tunes in to Kubernetes, Istio and more.


SEATTLE — Whether your playlist runs more to Knuckle Puck than Bing Crosby, if you’re streaming on Spotify it’s in part thanks to open source.

Saunak Chakrabarti, the director of engineering, infrastructure and operations at Spotify, shared details of current and future open source efforts at the press and analyst briefing at the recent KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America.

With some 191 million users, including 87 million subscribers across 78 markets, “building Spotify would not have been possible without free and open source software,” declares the company website. You can check out the company’s GitHub page to use their code or contribute.

The music streaming platform, founded in 2008, was an early adopter of micro-service technology and has been running these services at scale for quite a few years, Chakrabarti says. Starting early has given them an interesting perspective on the evolution of cloud native.

“The last few years as the cloud native community has grown and matured, we’ve moved over from the home-grown solutions that we had implemented because there were no great alternatives in the open source community or the vendor space,” he says. They started with Helios, a Docker orchestration platform for deploying and managing containers across an entire fleet of servers, that launched around the same time as Kubernetes. The majority of their data scheduling jobs now run on Kubernetes as well as some tier one services. Without getting into the specific numbers, Chakrabarti says that the open-source container-orchestration system is employed across a variety of contexts at Spotify.

As they move towards adopting solutions like Kubernetes and Istio, it’s a “really exciting time for us because we can take these micro-services that we’ve had running in production for a long time that align with some great industry supported tools and solutions.” For now, they have a small fraction of production services running on Kubernetes and a handful of production services on Istio with GRPC endpoints.  While he says they’ve  done a few experiments, it’s “still early stages on GRPC and Istio,  but we’re farther along with Kubernetes adoption and migration.”

In terms of whether Spotify has strategy in place for using open source, Chakrabarti says teams have a lot of autonomy to experiment with any tech that they wish.

“But when we’re talking about production services, we want to limit fragmentation. From that perspective in the last couple of years we’ve developed a strategy that’s very open-source focused,” he says. As an organization and a tech platform, they’re thinking more about how to contribute to and how to adopt more open source projects rather than building what they need in-house.

The Linux Foundation provided travel and accommodation to KubeCon.

Cover Photo // CC BY NC