Kubernetes native multi-cluster canary or blue-green rollouts using Helm
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Shipper

Visit docs.shipper-k8s.io for the full documentation, examples and guides.

Shipper is an extension for Kubernetes to add sophisticated rollout strategies and multi-cluster orchestration.

It lets you use kubectl to manipulate objects which represent any kind of rollout strategy, like blue/green or canary. These strategies can deploy to one cluster, or many clusters across the world.

Why does Shipper exist?

Kubernetes is a wonderful platform, but implementing mature rollout strategies on top of it requires subtle multi-step orchestration: Deployment objects are a building block, not a solution.

When implemented as a set of scripts in CI/CD systems like Jenkins, GitLab, or Brigade, these strategies can become hard to debug, or leave out important properties like safe rollbacks.

These problems become more severe when the rollout targets multiple Kubernetes clusters in multiple regions: the complex, multi-step orchestration has many opportunities to fail and leave clusters in inconsistent states.

Shipper helps by providing a higher level API for complex rollout strategies to one or many clusters. It simplifies CI/CD pipeline scripts by letting them focus on the parts that matter to that particular application.

Multi-cluster, multi-region, multi-cloud

Shipper can deploy your application to multiple clusters in different regions.

It expects a Kubernetes API and requires no agent in the application clusters, so it should work with any compliant Kubernetes implementation like GKE or AKS. If you can use kubectl with it, chances are, you can use Shipper with it as well.

Release Management

Shipper doesn't just copy-paste your code onto multiple clusters for you -- it allows you to customize the rollout strategy fully. This allows you to craft a rollout strategy with the appropriate speed/risk balance for your particular situation.

After each step of the rollout strategy, Shipper pauses to wait for another update to the Release object. This checkpointing approach means that rollouts are fully declarative, scriptable, and resumable. Shipper can keep a rollout on a particular step in the strategy for ten seconds or ten hours. At any point the rollout can be safely aborted, or moved backwards through the strategy to return to an earlier state.

Roll Backs

Since Shipper keeps a record of all your successful releases, it allows you to roll back to an earlier release very easily.

Charts As Input

Shipper installs a complete set of Kubernetes objects for a given application.

It does this by relying on Helm, and using Helm Charts as the unit of configuration deployment. Shipper's Application object provides an interface for specifying values to a Chart just like the helm command line tool.

Relationship to Tiller

Tiller is the server-side component of Helm 2 which installs Charts into the cluster, and keeps track of releases. Shipper does not use Tiller: it replaces Tiller entirely.

Shipper consumes Charts directly from a Chart repository like ChartMuseum, and installs objects into clusters itself. This has the nice property that regular Kubernetes authentication and RBAC controls can be used to manage access to Shipper APIs.

Documentation and Support

Visit docs.shipper-k8s.io for the full documentation, examples and guides.

You can find us at #shipper channel of Kubernetes slack.

Demo

Here's a video demo of Shipper from the SIG Apps community call June 2018. Shipper object definitions have changed a little bit since then, but this is still a good way to get a general idea of what problem Shipper is solving and how it looks in action.

License

Apache License 2.0, see LICENSE.