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The latest version of Kubernetes shows that the white-hot container-orchestration technology is increasingly focused on making it sure the core of the open-source project is stable, while also adding new security features that are important in getting large companies on board.

Kubernetes 1.8 is about to be released, according to The Linux Foundation, and several major cloud providers will likely update their container-orchestration products in the coming days and weeks to incorporate the new features. It’s the third version released this year of the open-source project, born inside Google as a way to manage enormous clusters of containerized applications and now an independent project drawing support from all corners of the cloud computing world.

“We are not mature, but we would like to enhance our maturity,” said Ihor Dvoretskyi, developer advocate for the Cloud Native Computing Foundation — which oversees Kubernetes development — and Kubernetes 1.8 features release lead.

Two years after it was first released to the open-source community, Kubernetes is moving into the next phase of its life as an enterprise computing open-source project around which more and more companies — 54 percent of the Fortune 100, according to Redmonk — are spending lots of time and energy designing their computing infrastructure strategy. That requires Kubernetes developers to think carefully about how they introduce new features while keeping the basic core of the software as light as possible, and relying on the community to provide some of the custom bells and whistles that not all Kubernetes users require.

Kubernetes helps developers managed clusters of containerized applications. (Kubernetes.io Image)

The 1.8 release focuses on promoting several key features along a path from alpha to beta to stable. Role-based access control, which gives administrators finer-grain tools for making sure developers are staying in their lanes, is now a stable component of the core. That will be welcomed by large companies with strict data-handling and compliance requirements.

The security minded will also note that users can now filter outbound cluster traffic with the graduation of Network Policies to beta status, and TLS (transport layer security) certificate rotation for Kubelet — a key component of Kubernetes — is also now a beta service.

On the stability side, four core components of the technology — DaemonSet, Deployment, ReplicaSet, and StatefulSet — have also graduated to beta status. All four are controllers, which govern how tasks are handled across Kubernetes clusters.

While Google tends to be the cloud vendor most closely associated with Kubernetes, thanks to its origin story and Google’s heavy ongoing commitment of developer resources to the project, the 1.8 release was led by Jaice Singer DuMars, Kubernetes ambassador at Microsoft. And 14 different people from a who’s who of cloud computing — groups including Avi Networks, CNCF, CoreOS, Google, Heptio, Huawei, Microsoft, and Samsung SDS — as well as individual contributors participated in the project.

This is going to be a very interesting trend to follow as Kubernetes continues to evolve, because several major cloud and enterprise tech vendors including Amazon Web Services, Oracle, VMware, and Pivotal joined the CNCF this summer. The light-touch approach that the CNCF has taken toward Kubernetes development and regulation could become more difficult to manage with a bunch of heavy hitters in the room, but open-source developers tend to be amazingly collegial when working on projects with competitors.

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