OAM and Crossplane: The Next Stage for Building Modern Application

The start of the journey

From the perspective of Kubernetes engineers like us, we are happy with the current level of Kubernetes’ abstraction: containers and infrastructure API resources. But they are still too low level for the end users of the platform.

Model your application, not just describe

As we want to define an application level abstraction, the first question is: what is an application?

Crossplane + OAM: build the modern application model for Kubernetes

OAM v1alpha1 spec got quick adoption in the Alibaba Cloud Enterprise Distributed Application Service (EDAS) as well as platforms internally. However, we also identified an issue in the “what to run” piece (previously called ComponentSchematic), where you need to publish a new version of ComponentSchematic for any change in the YAML. This is because it is designed as a schematic object, so developers can define what type of workload they want to deploy and share it with others. A similar issue also exists in the operational strategy part (namly “traits”) — its schema has to be leaked to end users as well.

Composition: completing the whole picture

As you may have noticed, there’s still a missing part with OAM: how can I define infrastructure pieces required by the component, for example, a MySQL database instance (RDS) from Alibaba Cloud? How can I make this definition portable between clouds just like the OAM component?

What’s next?

The core idea of OAM is that developers describe their apps, and then they can take that app and run it on a serverless platform, or a Kubernetes cluster that might be on-prem without modifying that description of the application. It is the part of cloud, edge consistency story that Alibaba and Microsoft have been working on. Obviously, the collaboration with Crossplane is the missing piece to make this story really come together by unifying standard application definition and infrastructure definition in the same system. We will continue to work together to make Crossplane the standard Kubernetes implementation for OAM with better workload/trait portability, interoperability, abundant operational capabilities, and build an open community focused on standard application and infrastructure.

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