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CNCF Project Proposal Process v1.3


This governance policy sets forth the proposal process for projects to be accepted into the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (“CNCF”). The process is the same for both existing projects which seek to move into the CNCF, and new projects to be formed within the CNCF.

Project stages

Project stages

Sandbox process

Note: We have changed the sandbox proposal process to a new lighter-weight process for Sandbox proposals.

All exceptions (and "no" outcomes) are handled by the TOC. Possible "no" outcomes include "not at this time", and the project may be encouraged to re-apply after addressing issues. Timeframes are approximate, to set expectations.

Sandbox process
  1. Project Proposal

    • Project proposed through a form

    • Project proposed for contribution through a Pull request

  2. TOC Review

    • TOC reviews proposal in spreadsheet and presentation, project passes for inclusion with a simple majority vote.

    • TOC may engage with project to ask further questions

    • Projects may re-apply after six months

  3. Governance / legal issues

    • CNCF staff handle governance / legal issues

    • This can happen after TOC Sandbox Sponsors step forward

See the Sandbox guidelines for the definition of and motivation behind the CNCF Sandbox.

Incubation process

All exceptions (and "no" outcomes) are handled by the TOC.

Incubation process
  1. Project Proposal

  2. TOC Triage 2 weeks for a straightforward referral to a SIG; decline or defer could require more discussion

    • Performed by any TOC member

    • Lazy TOC consensus before declining outright or deferring assessment at this time

    • Picks appropriate CNCF SIG to perform assessment

  3. SIG Assessment 1-2 months

    • Project presents to SIG

    • Lightweight - this is pre-DD

    • Confirms that project accepts the Incubation requirements

    • SIG makes recommendation to TOC: Sandbox / Incubation / Decline

    • Note that this step is still meant to be a lightweight, pre-DD process

  4. TOC Incubation Sponsor

    • If a TOC member steps forward as an Incubation Sponsor, due diligence commences

  5. Due Diligence 2-3 months

    • TOC Incubation Sponsor drives due diligence (see the template and guidelines).

    • TOC Incubation Sponsor can delegate DD work to CNCF SIGs and/or other TOC members.

    • TOC Incubation Sponsor can ask project maintainers to complete the DD template as a first pass.

    • CNCF staff do governance and legal DD.

    • During DD some conversations may be held in private (e.g. user interviews where the user wishes to remain anonymous) and are documented using discretion.

    • TOC Incubation Sponsor determines when DD is “done”. DD documentation should then be on GitHub, open to public comment on record.

  6. Due Diligence review 2-6 weeks

    • DD documents are available for public review and comment (GitHub, TOC mailing list, TOC public meetings)

    • TOC Incubation sponsor decides when to call TOC vote, allowing at least two weeks for public comment before calling vote

  7. TOC vote up to 6 weeks

    • TOC members assess whether project meets the Incubation criteria

    • Projects get accepted to incubation via a 2/3 supermajority vote of the TOC.

    • If the vote is not conclusive after 6 weeks, TOC chair may extend vote, or conclude that silence = abstain

Graduation process

  1. Submit Graduation Proposal Template

  2. TOC member kicks off two week period of time for pulic comment on the TOC mailing list

    • The email should contain a link to the proposal pull request.

    • All SIGs, end users, TOC members, and community members are welcome to comment at this time on the mailing list.

    • Historically, projects have done a TOC presentation as part of the graduation process. The TOC has gotten rid of the presentation requirement. Instead, if the TOC wants to have a deeper discussion about the project with the maintainers, they may schedule an ad hoc meeting to do so before the vote.

  3. TOC vote

    • TOC members assess whether project meets the Graduation criteria

    • Projects must have a 2/3 supermajority vote of the TOC to graduate


  • TOC always has final discretion

  • TOC doesn’t have to accept SIG recommendation

  • Outcome may be “no” simply because sponsors don’t step forward within the timeframe

  • Outcome from TOC Triage or SIG recommendation could be that we want to wait for some reason e.g. project backlogs; batching similar projects together. We should give the project an explanation and set time expectations in these cases.

  • All “no” outcomes and other exceptions are discussed by the TOC, and then with project and SIG representatives. We will try to give feedback but it may simply be a lack of conviction in the project.

Project Proposal Requirements

Project proposals submitted to the CNCF (see example) can be written in Markdown, AsciiDoc, or reStructuredText and must provide the following information to the best of your ability:

  1. name of project (must be unique within CNCF)

  2. project description (what it does, why it is valuable, origin and history)

  3. statement on alignment with CNCF charter mission

  4. comparison with similar projects (inside or outside the CNCF), including what differentiates this project

  5. sponsor from TOC (sponsor helps mentor projects)

  6. preferred maturity level (see CNCF Graduation Criteria)

  7. license (charter dictates Apache 2 by default)

  8. source control (GitHub by default)

  9. external dependencies (including licenses)

  10. initial committers (how long working on project, companies they represent)

  11. infrastructure requests (CI / CNCF Cluster)

  12. communication channels (slack, irc, mailing lists)

  13. issue tracker (GitHub by default)

  14. website (current version will move to, see here for guidelines)

  15. release methodology and mechanics

  16. social media accounts

  17. community size and any existing sponsorship

  18. who is currently known to be using the project? Are they using it in production and at what scale? (It may be hard to obtain accurate data for this, but any supporting evidence of usage is helpful)

  19. project logo in svg format (see for guidelines)

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