Crossplane Announces v1.0 milestone, Received Broad Support from Cloud Industry During Second Community Day

The second Crossplane Community Day was held on Dec. 15, with 27 speakers taking to the virtual stage. Upbound was a main sponsor of the event, joining community sponsors, Equinix Bare Metal, CNCF and AWS.

Hundreds of people from around the world joined the event, resulting in lively conversations and enthusiasm from the community. The action-packed day was a clear demonstration of the momentum building around Crossplane as the driving force behind this next wave of app development and infrastructure modernization.

The event covered a broad range of technology, community and open source topics and was highlighted by the release announcement of Crossplane 1.0 which is a major milestone for the project. Equinix and IBM also announced they were both joining the community.

A key theme that resonated throughout the event was the rationale and need behind Crossplane, which makes use of the open source Kubernetes platform to help enable a control plane for multi-cloud operations. Another key message that was repeated over the course of Crossplane Community Day was how organizations are embracing and contributing to Crossplane development, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Equinix and IBM Cloud among others.

In the opening keynote session, Bassam Tabbara, CEO of Upbound, detailed the foundational nature of having a control plane to manage cloud resources, as being the driving vision behind Crossplane.

"Essentially what motivated us to create Crossplane is we wanted to bring that same approach that has caused the cloud to become the largest platform in the world, bring that to your organization, to the enterprise to the open source community," Tabbara said. "We wanted platform teams to actually use control planes to unlock the next level of efficiency and productivity."

Tabbara explained that Crossplane has two primary functionalities. The first is to expose a single universal API for the cloud. The second is to enable developers to create their own platform APIs and do that without having to write code.

"You can expose your own catalog of services, you can capture your guardrails configuration automation policy, all of that lives behind the API, ready for your application teams to consume."

Kubernetes is at the Core of Crossplane

Kubernetes is often thought of as just a container orchestration system, but according to Tabbara its true power goes much further as a control plane. Crossplane is based on the Kubernetes control plane and benefits from its innovations and broad community.

The power of control planes and the Kubernetes Resource Management model was the topic for a keynote panel that included the founders of the Kubernetes project, Brendan Burns, Joe Beda, and Brian Grant.

"We didn't set out to build a control plane just as a piece of infrastructure, we set out to build a container platform and the control plane was kind of an important design consideration, but it was not a primary focus," Grant said.

Beda tagged on at the end of Grant's comments noting that in retrospect he wishes that the control plane in Kubernetes was setup as a separate thing from the get go.

"One could theoretically with enough time, energy and elbow grease, take the API controller and create sort of the generic universal control plane," Beda said. "I think if we did that in a clean way we'd find that it gets used in much more places than it does right now."

Kelsey Hightower, staff developer advocate at Google who moderated the keynote panel session, observed that one big takeaway for the Crossplane community is it has the opportunity to help define that control plane first approach, while leveraging the Kubernetes resource model, so that people can build new control planes.

Why Crossplane Matters

Through the day, presenters outlined why Crossplane matters and what it can help to enable. Fundamentally it provides a new model with which organizations can interact with cloud infrastructure resources.

"Modern infrastructure is all about sharing the resources, the right way, when we deal with cloud platforms like Azure or AWS or GCP," commented analyst Janakiram MSV.

That idea was echoed by Nic Cope, principal software engineer at Upbound who stated that Crossplane  wants to enable people to focus on what they're actually concerned with.

Cope also detailed how Crossplane is extensible, in particular with its Composition feature. He explained that Composition in Crossplane is how you can teach Crossplane a new declarative API, and how to satisfy API calls to that API.

How AWS, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud are Contributing to Crossplane

A core element of Crossplane is how it is able to interact with different cloud providers. It's an effort that has been embraced by cloud providers that are actively working in the community to help enable Crossplane.

Jay Pipes, principal open source engineer at AWS outlined how the AWS Controllers for Kubernetes (ACK) technology works alongside Crossplane.

"What we did was we adapted the ACK code generator, so that instead of generating the ACK service controllers, we have a set of templates that help to generate the Crossplane provider AWS code," Pipes said.

Microsoft is also making use of Crossplane. Matthew Christopher, senior software engineer at Microsoft outlined how the Azure Service Operator (ASO) is complemented by Crossplane. He explained that ASO is meant to be a low level way to manage resources in Azure, through Kubernetes.

"The focus with Crossplane has always sort of been more high level, where it's supporting uniformity across different cloud providers, uniformity of secrets management as well as uniformity of cross resource references and ownership," Christopher said. "We're really excited to be collaborating with the Crossplane developers and this is a great opportunity for us."

IBM is also part of the Crossplane community. In a session, Chris Bailey, technical architect for runtime development at IBM, announced that IBM is formally joining and supporting the Crossplane community.

"We're doing this because we see Crossplane as a vital part of the future cloud platform, particularly for hybrid multi cloud deployments," Bailey said.

Crossplane in 2020
2020 has been a milestone year for the Crossplane project, which got started two years ago.

Cheryl Hung, VP ecosystem at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which is home to the Kubernetes project, noted that the Crossplane project joined the CNCF in June as a sandbox project.

"Since then the number of contributors has increased fivefold, and they've collectively made 25,000 contributions," Hung said. "Crossplane is an outstanding example of how a neutral home and open governance enables community driven innovation."

2020 has also been a year of great challenges for much of humanity, which was the core theme of the affecting closing keynote from Sarah Novotny, who currently works in the Microsoft Azure Office of the CTO. Novotny is well known in the Kubernetes community as one of the founding members of the Kubernetes Steering Committee.

"Most of the hard problems in the world today really aren't technology problems, they are people problems" Novotny said. "So, we need to remember to pay attention, learn and grow our skills about humans, and how to interact with them."

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