UPDATED 15:04 EDT / NOVEMBER 24 2020


Kubernetes’ etcd data store becomes top-level CNCF project

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation today granted top-level project status to etcd, an open-source data management system that serves as a key component of Kubernetes and can be found in many other software projects as well.

Today’s milestone follows a nearly two-year incubation period. Open-source technologies incubated by the CNCF graduate to top-level status when they demonstrate sufficient technical maturity in areas such as code security and meet certain other criteria, such as having a growing installed base.

In the case of etcd, the system already boasts a large installed base that includes Amazon Web Services Inc., Google LLC, IBM Corp. and a long list of other tech firms. A big contributor to the strong adoption is the fact that it ships with Kubernetes.

Originally created in 2013, etcd is a system that applications use to store information on how they’re configured. That configuration information, in turn, is essential for many of the low-level software processes that complex applications rely on to operate smoothly.

Distributed workloads made up of multiple modules can consult technical details stored in etcd to determine how to best divide hardware resources among the modules. Another use case is leader election, or the process wherein an application selects a “leader” sub-component to coordinate the processing it performs. 

Kubernetes relies on etcd to store information on the current state of a software container environment. Such state information is used to perform hardware resource allocation and other low-level management tasks. It’s also useful for infrastructure automation: Containerized applications can monitor the configuration details in etcd to look for operational changes and reprogram themselves when modifications are detected. 

What makes etcd suitable for the task is that it provides a high degree of reliability, meaning there’s a low risk of important configuration data getting lost, and it’s relatively simple to use. The system is also fast: Information in etcd can be read thousands of times per second by applications.

In the run-up to its decision to upgrade etcd to a top-level project, the CNCF commissioned an outside audit to assess the security of the project’s code base. The audit found just a single critical issue that has since been fixed. A separate assessment of etcd’s reliability fond that it demonstrated a high level of “maturity in the project functionality.”

Now that it’s a top-level CNCF project, etcd is in the same category as Kubernetes itself, as well other popular open-source cloud tools such as Helm and Prometheus. 

Photo: Unsplash

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