Businesses prioritising agility or digital transformation have probably assessed containers as a replacement for conventional monolithic applications. Containers simply application and service deployment that are catered to the contemporary cloud environment. Furthermore, containers enable the implementation of CI/CD automation, guaranteeing automated scalability and failover mechanisms for almost 99.999% uptime.
It’s not widely acknowledged that deployment and management of containers like Kubernetes may pose a significant challenge. To simplify the process, the foundational services need to be launched, and intricate manifests must be created, which can be time-consuming for developers.
Whenever a developer is responsible for adding a new full-stack container, they must start from scratch to create a fresh manifest, further elongating the already time-intensive process. This cycle becomes even more challenging and time-consuming as applications and services become progressively complex.
One such tool that can expedite and streamline the installation of container-based applications and services exists.
This tool is called Helm.
What Exactly is “Helm”?
Helm can be compared to containerization’s apt or DNF. It functions as a package manager that offers access to charts – sets of versioned, preconfigured resources in a single, simple download, enabling container deployment.
The information required for a developer to push a container to a Kubernetes cluster is stored in YAML files, called “Helm charts”. This allows for quick downloading, modification, and deployment of a chart to a cluster with a single command. This approach minimizes complexity, leading to quicker and more consistent, reliable container deployment.
Keep in mind that Helm charts function as templates and can be used repeatedly during container deployment. It’s better to begin from a pre-defined manifest than to start from scratch each time.
Advantages of Using the Helm System
Despite the evident advantages of using Helm, it’s not more widely adopted. One of the primary reasons being the significant time savings it can provide development teams. Deploying through Helm charts can save a significant amount of time and resources, as opposed to starting from scratch each time.
Your company will instantly reap the following benefits by using Helm:
- Efficiency has seen a significant boost.
- Reduced deployment complexity.
- The implementation of cloud-native software.
- Enhanced reliability of deployment processes and outcomes.
- Ability to utilize Kubernetes with a single command-line interface.
- Expanded potential for growth.
- Helm charts are not environment-specific and can be applied in various settings.
- Streamlined Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment processes.
- Downgrading application versions is less problematic (in case of any unforeseen issues).
- Multiple integration and continuous delivery points for automating tasks, including health checks.
Engineers benefit significantly from Helm, as it eliminates the requirement of manually creating YAML files for every application in the stack. The Helm chart provides all the essential configurations required for deployment, which can be personalized as per the requirement. This is widely considered as one of the major advantages of using Helm, owing to the intricacy of resource setups and the potential for complications arising from incorrect configurations.
Picture having to create a comprehensive system that covers multiple applications and services, including connections to external APIs. If engineers have to manually transcribe these instructions for every deployment, it will result in a wastage of time.
Instead of starting from zero, they can download a pre-existing Helm chart, make the required alterations, and deploy it with a single command, thus enhancing efficiency.
Helm charts offer a productive approach to assist container engineers who lack experience in gaining a better understanding of Kubernetes. Getting hold of a Helm chart and reviewing its YAML files provides an excellent opportunity to comprehend what is needed to create a successful manifest. This gives them the confidence to use the package as-is, without any adjustments.
Although Helm has numerous advantages, there are several limitations, which include:
Despite the advantages of Helm, it is important to consider certain limitations. Developers may need to spend some time learning to customize manifests and use the Helm command-line tools. Although the learning curve for these aspects is less steep than building everything from scratch.
The intricacy of Helm can pose an additional challenge. Developers may require more time to download and modify full-stack application definition packages, compared to simpler single-file manifests.
In spite of the limitations, the advantages of Helm are much greater, particularly when managing complex software lifecycles seamlessly.
If your development team is new to Kubernetes and containers or looking to expand existing installations, it is crucial to consider Helm. Deployments that are not only highly available, but also stable and reproducible, require teams to operate at an optimal level.