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HELM
Application deployment management for Kubernetes
About me…
•Chief of Research @codefresh.io
•github.com/alexei-led/pumba
•github.com/codefresh-io/microci
•#docker #k8s #golang #aws
•medium.com/@alexeiled
•@alexeiled
Kubernetes recap
What is Kubernetes?
• Kubernetes is container
orchestration. It’s how to run
containers at scale.

• It’s a very active open-source
platform with lots of
contributors

• Originally developed by
Google and donated to Cloud
Native Computing Foundation
(Linux Foundation)
K8s Architecture
Kubernetes Objects
wordpress
service
210.14.128.31
K8s Deployment Challenges
• Move to microservice architecture 

• application consists from multiple components 

• each component has its own resources and can be scaled individually 

• It’s hard to …

• … manage, edit and update multiple K8s configurations

• … deploy multiple K8s configuration as a SINGLE application

• … share and reuse K8s configurations and applications

• … parametrize and support multiple environments

• … manage application releases: rollout, rollback, diff, history

• … define deployment lifecycle (control operations to be run in different phases)

• … validate release state after deployment
Helm makes it easy to start using
Kubernetes with real applications
What is Helm?
• Helm is a Package Manager for Kubernetes

• package multiple K8s resources into a single logical deployment unit: Chart

• … but it’s not just a Package Manager

• Helm is a Deployment Management for Kubernetes

• do a repeatable deployment 

• management dependencies: reuse and share

• manage multiple configurations

• update, rollback and test application deployments (Releases)
Helm Dictionary
• Chart - a package; bundle of Kubernetes resources

• Release - a chart instance is loaded into Kubernetes 

• same chart can be installed several times into the same
cluster; each will have it’s own Release

• Repository - a repository of published Charts

• Template - a K8s configuration file mixed with Go/Sprig
template
kubernetes/helm
• Helm was jointly started by Google and Deis

• Helm is a Kubernetes project now (managed by CNCF)

• Active community: Google, Microsoft, Bitnami, …

• kubeapps.io - curated list (repository) of Helm Charts

• Works with any K8s cluster: K8s, Minikube, GKE, ACS, …
Helm Architecture
$ helm init
Chart Project Structure
Using Helm
# install helm client
brew install kubernetes-helm
# install helm server
helm init
# show help
helm --help
# show helm version
helm version
# install shell autocompletion; add it to .bashrc
source <(helm completion bash)
# create new chart
helm create mydemo
# deploy new release
helm install --name myrelease mydemo --namespace demo
# list all releases
helm list --all
Dependency Management
• Helm subcharts

• requirements.yaml
• helm dependency --help
Templates
• The Go Template language: {{.foo | quote}}
• Variables, simple control structures (looping, conditionals,
nesting)

• Pipelines - chain together templates functions

• 50+ functions from Go/Sprig Template libraries

• date, string, conversions, encoding, reflection, data
structures (list, dict), math, crypto, semver
Values
• Specify values that should be injected into templates

• Simple YAML with “namespaces” 

• Each subchart can have its own values.yaml file 

• Can use multiple Values files

• Can override individual value for install/update
Helm Hooks
• Perform "operation" at specific
point of release lifecycle

• "Operation" can be any K8s
resource: job, config-map,
secret, pod, ...

• The resources that a hook
creates are not tracked or
managed as part of the release
...
pre/post-install
pre/post-delete
pre/post-upgrade
pre/post-rollback
Demo: Voting App
https://github.com/alexei-led/example-voting-app/tree/helm
Helm Tips
1.Create Chart for each (micro)service; keep it in same Git repository

2.Learn and practice Go Template language (and Sprig template library)

3.Use Helm hooks to control release flow

4.Use helm test to validate releases

5.Host your own Helm repository for private charts; just serve index.html and packaged
charts (can be hosted on AWS S3, Google Storage, GH pages, or other web server)

6.Manage environments with multiple Values files

7.(!) Do not commit secrets into GitHub; or encrypt secrets with sops or similar tool

8.Follow community Helm best practices and conventions: take a look at docs and kubernetes/
charts examples

9.Use helm template plugin to debug Helm Charts; or use --dry-run flag
Helm Weaknesses
• Project relative immaturity - it's a young project

• No built-in environment support 

• Non informative logs on failures (it's also a K8s issue) 

• Weak linter: too many errors skip linter checks

• Open Issues:

• subcharts are ignored when there is a requirements.yaml 

• the --recreate-pods tag is does not recreate pods of statefulsets
Helm - Application deployment management for Kubernetes

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Helm - Application deployment management for Kubernetes

  • 2. About me… •Chief of Research @codefresh.io •github.com/alexei-led/pumba •github.com/codefresh-io/microci •#docker #k8s #golang #aws •medium.com/@alexeiled •@alexeiled
  • 4. What is Kubernetes? • Kubernetes is container orchestration. It’s how to run containers at scale. • It’s a very active open-source platform with lots of contributors • Originally developed by Google and donated to Cloud Native Computing Foundation (Linux Foundation)
  • 6.
  • 8. K8s Deployment Challenges • Move to microservice architecture • application consists from multiple components • each component has its own resources and can be scaled individually • It’s hard to … • … manage, edit and update multiple K8s configurations • … deploy multiple K8s configuration as a SINGLE application • … share and reuse K8s configurations and applications • … parametrize and support multiple environments • … manage application releases: rollout, rollback, diff, history • … define deployment lifecycle (control operations to be run in different phases) • … validate release state after deployment
  • 9. Helm makes it easy to start using Kubernetes with real applications
  • 10. What is Helm? • Helm is a Package Manager for Kubernetes • package multiple K8s resources into a single logical deployment unit: Chart • … but it’s not just a Package Manager • Helm is a Deployment Management for Kubernetes • do a repeatable deployment • management dependencies: reuse and share • manage multiple configurations • update, rollback and test application deployments (Releases)
  • 11. Helm Dictionary • Chart - a package; bundle of Kubernetes resources • Release - a chart instance is loaded into Kubernetes • same chart can be installed several times into the same cluster; each will have it’s own Release • Repository - a repository of published Charts • Template - a K8s configuration file mixed with Go/Sprig template
  • 12. kubernetes/helm • Helm was jointly started by Google and Deis • Helm is a Kubernetes project now (managed by CNCF) • Active community: Google, Microsoft, Bitnami, … • kubeapps.io - curated list (repository) of Helm Charts • Works with any K8s cluster: K8s, Minikube, GKE, ACS, …
  • 15. Using Helm # install helm client brew install kubernetes-helm # install helm server helm init # show help helm --help # show helm version helm version # install shell autocompletion; add it to .bashrc source <(helm completion bash) # create new chart helm create mydemo # deploy new release helm install --name myrelease mydemo --namespace demo # list all releases helm list --all
  • 16. Dependency Management • Helm subcharts • requirements.yaml • helm dependency --help
  • 17. Templates • The Go Template language: {{.foo | quote}} • Variables, simple control structures (looping, conditionals, nesting) • Pipelines - chain together templates functions • 50+ functions from Go/Sprig Template libraries • date, string, conversions, encoding, reflection, data structures (list, dict), math, crypto, semver
  • 18. Values • Specify values that should be injected into templates • Simple YAML with “namespaces” • Each subchart can have its own values.yaml file • Can use multiple Values files • Can override individual value for install/update
  • 19. Helm Hooks • Perform "operation" at specific point of release lifecycle • "Operation" can be any K8s resource: job, config-map, secret, pod, ... • The resources that a hook creates are not tracked or managed as part of the release ... pre/post-install pre/post-delete pre/post-upgrade pre/post-rollback
  • 21. Helm Tips 1.Create Chart for each (micro)service; keep it in same Git repository 2.Learn and practice Go Template language (and Sprig template library) 3.Use Helm hooks to control release flow 4.Use helm test to validate releases 5.Host your own Helm repository for private charts; just serve index.html and packaged charts (can be hosted on AWS S3, Google Storage, GH pages, or other web server) 6.Manage environments with multiple Values files 7.(!) Do not commit secrets into GitHub; or encrypt secrets with sops or similar tool 8.Follow community Helm best practices and conventions: take a look at docs and kubernetes/ charts examples 9.Use helm template plugin to debug Helm Charts; or use --dry-run flag
  • 22. Helm Weaknesses • Project relative immaturity - it's a young project • No built-in environment support • Non informative logs on failures (it's also a K8s issue) • Weak linter: too many errors skip linter checks • Open Issues: • subcharts are ignored when there is a requirements.yaml • the --recreate-pods tag is does not recreate pods of statefulsets