Oxidizing the Kubernetes Operator

Oxidizing the Kubernetes Operator

Oxidizing the Kubernetes Operator. One strong reason to use Rust for building Kubernetes operators is error handling in Rust. When managing Kubernetes resources via the Kubernetes API, there are numerous points of failure — network, API unavailable, Kubernetes resources availability problems, including nodes being restarted etc. The kube-rs crate is written using idiomatic Rust and makes sure all points of failure are properly propagated and can’t be simply ignored.

What if knowledge of how to operate an application was extracted into a dedicated software, relieving human operators? That's exactly what Kubernetes operators are about.

Some applications are hard to manage in Kubernetes, requiring lots of manual labor and time invested to operate them. Some applications might be hard to set up, some need special care for restarts, some both. It’s individual. What if the knowledge of how to operate an application could be extracted into a dedicated software, relieving human operators? That is exactly what Kubernetes operators are about. An operator, a.k.a., custom controller automates what a human operator would do with the application to make it run successfully. First, Kubernetes is taught about the application to be operated by the custom controller. This is simply done by creating a custom resource. Custom resources end up extending the Kubernetes API, making Kubernetes recognize the resource. The operator then watches events of such custom resource and acts upon them, hence the name custom controller — a controller for custom resources.

Rust is an extraordinary language for operators to be implemented in. A typical Kubernetes operator ends up making lots of calls to the Kubernetes API. Watching resources states, creating new ones, updating/deleting old ones. Also, an operator should be able to manage multiple resources at a time, ideally in parallel. Rust’s asynchronous programming model is a perfect match for building high-performance/throughput operators. If a threaded runtime, such as Tokio is used, a vast amount of custom resources can be managed in parallel by the operator. Rust is an ahead-of-time compiled language with no runtime, no garbage collection pauses, and C-level performance. An operator typically resides inside a Pod in Kubernetes. Such a pod can be restarted at any time. Near-instant startup time minimizes delay before the state of managed resources is handled by the operator again. Rust also guarantees memory safety and eliminates data races. This is especially helpful for heavily concurrent/parallel applications, like Kubernetes operators.

One strong reason to use Rust for building Kubernetes operators is error handling in Rust. When managing Kubernetes resources via the Kubernetes API, there are numerous points of failure — network, API unavailable, Kubernetes resources availability problems, including nodes being restarted etc. The kube-rs crate is written using idiomatic Rust and makes sure all points of failure are properly propagated and can’t be simply ignored. Critical operations always leverage Result and Either to thoroughly describe all possible outcomes and force the programmer to take care of them.

Rust offers all the tools required to build an operator.

  1. Kubernetes client library: kube-rs — A user-friendly library for interaction with Kubernetes, including custom resource definitions, watchers and much more.

  2. Kubernetes API binding: kubernetes-openapi — API bindings to interact with Kubernetes API directly. Mostly automatically generated, just like other Kubernetes API clients for other platforms. The kube-rs crate uses it internally.

Typically, the kube-rs crate is the tool of choice. It embraces Rust’s asynchronous programming model and provides useful abstractions over Kubernetes API.

rust kubernetes

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