Compatibility, security and scalability were main themes of the first edition says Chris Hoge of the OpenStack Foundation.


Snow and freezing temperatures in Portland didn’t stop the inaugural Helm Summit from a well-attended two-day conference devoted to the Kubernetes packaging system.

The first day was devoted to user stories, the use cases and techniques who have adopted Helm to manage packages for their Kubernetes infrastructure. Following on experiences from the first day, the second day got down to unconference work sessions devoted to shaping the upcoming design and development of Helm 3.  About 200 people braved the weather to attend.

Adam Reese, one of the original Helm developers, kicked off the summit with a keynote that covered the history and philosophy of Helm. “Let’s solve problems instead of create more software” was the main takeaway that also doubles as kind of a mission statement for the project.

The rest of the day included user stories from Ubisoft on how they use Helm to deliver core services to their games,  Josh Dolitsky of Codefresh on launching the open-source project ChartMuseum to be a Helm chart repository and Greg Taylor about how Helm backs the development-staging-production application life cycle at Reddit. Security and scalability were common themes of the talks.

Day two was more focused on getting developers and users together to scope out requirements for Helm 3.
Some highlights from the second day keynote:

  • Maintaining backwards compatibility with the wealth of existing Helm 2 charts
  • Cleaning up the code base by removing deprecated code
  • Refactoring code to make it cleaner, more readable, and less redundant
  • Introducing more role based access controls (RBAC) and trying to design with “sensible security” in mind
  • Making a commitment to excellent documentation to benefit the new and seasoned user alike

From there, attendees gave a series of lightning talks, many focused on proposing new features for Helm 3 based on current needs and use cases. Building a strong community was also a topic, with a panel of Kubernetes Community leaders emphasizing that kindness was one of the most powerful tools a project can use to grow both talented individual developers and a strong community.

As the day moved into afternoon work sessions, one theme that became clear was that within Helm there will always be a tension between the slower pace of Helm packaging and the faster pace of Kubernetes development. Backwards compatibility between not only Helm releases but for Kubernetes releases is important to K8s users whose organizations may be slower to adopt more recent releases of Kubernetes. The strength of open source projects that deliver applications depends on the strength of package managers, and Helm has already demonstrated itself as the essential Kubernetes package manager. It was exciting to participate in this event and I’m looking forward to seeing what changes are in store for Helm 3.

For a deeper write-up of the event from one of the Helm core maintainers, head over to Taylor Thomas’s post at the Microsoft + Open Source blog.

You can also catch all the talks on the Helm YouTube Channel.

Get involved

In May, I’ll be attending the first Kubernetes-SIG-Docs Summit in Portland, representing SIG-OpenStack and helping out with provider documentation. If you’re at the Write the Docs conference and want to get involved with Kubernetes documentation, be sure to stop by! Details on the Kubernetes #sig-docs channel or here.


Chris Hoge is the OpenStack Foundation’s senior strategic program manager.


Cover Photo // CC BY NC