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Why You Need Helm to Manage Your Kubernetes Applications

Why You Need Helm to Manage Your Kubernetes Applications

Maintaining complex deployments isn’t easy, and every developer or programmer hopes to streamline traditional processes during a time where the tech landscape is built on the DevOps culture. Kubernetes helps development teams achieve these goals. This container platform has become synonymous with DevOps and automation; launched by three Google engineers, it’s designed to automate deployment and the applications containers across a vast cluster of hosts.

With Kubernetes, you can manage multiple containers by grouping them into logical units. Each cluster contains a master and work nodes, and if a particular work node stops functioning, containers are redistributed appropriately.

However, although Kubernetes makes it easier than ever to run containerized workloads, application releases aren’t its strong point. With the amount of complex objects you need to handle—from ConfigMaps to pods to Persistent Volumes—Kubernetes can quickly become confusing. Each of these things requires you to write compounded and detailed YAML manifest files. In the majority of cases, Kubernetes manifests help roll out applications and their corresponding resources. But with that in mind, there’s no proper way to version them outside of Git revision. To succeed efficiently, a solid release workflow is necessary.

Helm allows you to complete a wide variety of versatile tasks; you can install and upgrade software, configure software deployments, and install software dependencies automatically.

Using a type of Kubernetes Helm integration to manage your packages can help fill the voids and time-consuming issues that many developers face. With Helm, you’ll have better release and application management of your cluster. Additionally, you’ll be able to define each set of applications as components, and you can better manage those components from start to finish.

Each application and component in Helm is grouped together in what’s called a “Chart.” Helm charts allow you to leverage your Kubernetes packages with a simple CLI command (you can compare this to Linux’ DEB and RPM packages). To date, Helm Charts include MongoDB, WordPress, and MYSQL.

Each chart contains one or more applications, which form a release. This works because on a typical release on a cluster, there are multiple moving parts. Those moving parts are congregated into your charts, where you can deploy and maintain them over a set period of time.

Each time a chart is deployed to a cluster, it creates a release. This makes it simple to deploy anything you’d like, from simple pieces of code to the most complex Web applications. From here, each release tracks a chart, giving you total control over deployment over a period of time (you can perform upgrades easily, too).

Helm charts are served using repositories; from here, packaged charts are stored and shared. Helm’s default repository (called a “stable”) has several applications, but you can benefit from integrating third-party repositories. Helm also offers users a public repository of different charts for popular software. You can also create your own repository, or contribute to someone else’s. This collaborative effort adds another layer to the development dimension.

As you can see, Helm is a must-have Kubernetes manager. Without it, it could take you much longer to execute many tasks across the development lifecycle.

It’s particularly important to note the ease of releases when Helm and Kubernetes come together. When you instruct the platform to install a chart, you’re able to decide which variable values can be inserted into a chart’s manifest templates. Helm combines those templates into your manifests so that they can be applied to your clusters. As previously mentioned, this creates a new release—and you can always install a chart into a cluster multiple times.

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