Incubating Upbound: Delivering Modern Application Infrastructure

Today the CNCF announced that the open source Crossplane project, created by Upbound and with a broad community of contributors, has reached incubation level at the CNCF. This is a major milestone for the project, and reflects its maturity & rapidly growing adoption in the enterprise. We're proud of the whole community, made up of major cloud providers, ecosystem partners, individuals and contributors from over 100 companies across the globe.

We’re also enthused by the adoption of the first distribution of crossplane, Upbound’s Universal Control plane (UXP), and look forward to seeing other distributions in the future.

You can read all about the incubation milestone in the CNCF and Crossplane blogs. Here, we want to reflect on the journey to this point, the trends that we’re seeing across the broad user base, and how we see Upbound’s offerings at the heart of enterprise infrastructure modernization.

Community Support

The founders of the project started working with the major cloud providers early on. The scalability and extensibility of the project relies on broad provider support, and its been amazing to see the adoption & ownership of this model. Put simply, this means that there is embedded support for Crossplane by the cloud providers, enabling coincident support of new and updated application services at the time of their release. Enterprises can rely on Upbound’s providers to deliver a first class experience for their needs. You can read more about the provider model here.

The community also invested in a composition model, which enables infrastructure teams to define their own APIs using whatever application services they wish. This enables them to deliver consistent, secure, policy managed infrastructure to developers using a self-service model.

Modern Infrastructure Management

We talk about Upbound’s universal control plane as the next generation of infrastructure management for a simple reason: it’s designed to be cloud native, taking advantage of the kubernetes operating model, and applying those principles to infrastructure.

The fact is, infrastructure teams are running into extensibility and scalability challenges managing a mix of legacy and cloud-based resources, let alone being able to easily use whatever services are available across vendors. Developers need to consider the infrastructure their applications will run on, and infrastructure teams are using monolithic tools like Terraform to make those resources available. Developers have to learn new languages for different deployments, and day two operations require a high level of observability, drift detection and manual intervention to keep things running. These previous posts from founder Bassam Tabbara and Crossplane maintainer Nic Cope expand on the fundamental differences in approach. Those differences are at the core of why control plane based architectures are increasingly seen as the way to modernize infrastructure management, key for accelerating app development cycles.

Operating at Speed & Scale

So what does this mean for enterprises? Given the nature of the problem and the implications of scale, its natural that the larger companies operating in the cloud are the first to feel the pain of reliably, efficiently and securely delivering their services. They find themselves at the next inflection point of resource management.

Developers can onboard faster, by using secure self-service declarative APIs rather than spending time learning and configuring specific infrastructure for their applications. Developers can spend less time dealing with issues, and updating applications when the underlying infrastructure changes.

Infrastructure teams gain a standard approach to deliver the required resources for development and production, that has a single point of control, including policy and security constraints.

The issue of configuration drift, when underlying infrastructure changes over time, is eliminated. No drift, no resources spent on manual intervention when things aren’t as you were relying on.

Here at Upbound, we see a tremendous amount of consistency among the cloud architects that we engage with. We know that the majority of workloads are not executed in the cloud today and the issues above, with their extensibility and scalability constraints, are an impediment to scaling cloud adoption cost-effectively. Enterprises are actively searching for an upgraded approach that is simply less expensive to implement and operate; one that fully enables GitOps principles and delivers safe, secure, low-maintenance infrastructure that scales over time and enables practical vendor and application resource choice without prohibitive investment.

Next Step Graduation

We’re excited for the next stage in Upbound’s journey, and proud of the achievements of the Crossplane community and the project’s adoption so far. Control plane architectures are the natural evolution of infrastructure management, and we’re looking forward to Crossplane moving to graduation status at the CNCF in the near future.

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