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Kubernetes Release Team


The Kubernetes Release Team is embedded within SIG Release and is responsible for the day to day work required to successfully release while the SIG at large is focused on the continued improvement of the release process. Historically the Release Manager (previously Release Czar) and later Release Team have assumed the following responsibilities

  • Authority to build and publish releases at the published release date under the auspices of the CNCF
  • Authority to accept or reject cherrypick merge requests to the release branch
  • Authority to accept or reject PRs to the kubernetes/kubernetes master branch during code freeze period
  • Changing the release timeline as needed if keeping it would materially impact the stability or quality of the release

These responsibilities will continue to be discharged by SIG release through the Release Team. This charter grants SIG Release the following additional responsibilities:

  • Authority to revert code changes which imperil the ability to produce a release by the communicated date or otherwise negatively impact the quality of the release (e.g. insufficient testing, lack of documentation)
  • Authority to guard code changes behind a feature flag which do not meet criteria for release
  • Authority to close the submit queue to any changes which do not target the release as part of enforcing the code freeze period which shall be the discharged by the Release Team.

Specific responsibilities

  • Generation of release notes
  • Communicate enhancement burndown progress during a release cycle
  • Manage repositories and tooling dedicated to releasing Kubernetes which at time of chartering these include:
    • kubernetes/release
    • deb/rpm packaging and hosting
    • Container image hosting
  • Set and enforce criteria for repository inclusion in a Kubernetes release
    • Governance
    • Stabilization
    • Test coverage
  • Set and enforce criteria for code inclusion in a Kubernetes release
    • Feature flags
    • Documentation
    • Test coverage
    • Dashboards
    • Status reports
  • Define template and format for communication of release status
    • Ongoing status of the release process
    • Announcement of alpha, beta, release candidate availability
    • Announcement of release availability
  • Deriving signal from the following sources
  • Identifying owning individuals and SIGs for blocking issues
  • Working with SIGs and individuals to drive resolution of open issues
  • Building summary of release criteria and status and publish to the community on a regular basis throughout the release cycle
  • Manage the contents of kubernetes/enhancements
  • Define burndown process
    • use of GitHub labels to signal release blocking status
    • use of GitHub milestones to communicate release blocking issues
    • use of flake GitHub issue count or CI signal as a release blocking status
  • Coordinate the resolution of release blocking issues

Kubernetes Release Team roles

As documented in the Kubernetes Versioning doc, there are 3 types of Kubernetes releases:

  • Major (x.0.0)
  • Minor (x.x.0)
  • Patch (x.x.x)


Role Handbook
Release Team Lead Lead Handbook
Enhancements Enhancements Handbook
CI Signal CI Signal Handbook
Bug Triage Bug Triage Handbook
Docs Docs Handbook
Release Notes Release Notes Handbook
Communications Communications Handbook

Retired Release Team roles

  • Patch Release Manager: moved to a role of Release Managers, which operates under the Release Engineering subproject.
  • Branch Manager: moved to a role of Release Managers, which operates under the Release Engineering subproject.
  • Test Infra: deprecated at the end of Kubernetes 1.15. Duties are now distributed to the Branch Manager and Test Infra On-call (SIG Testing) (#testing-ops and #sig-testing on Slack).

Release Team Shadow

Any Release Team member may select one or more mentees to shadow the release process in order to help fulfill future Release Team staffing requirements and continue to grow the Kubernetes community in general. Potential mentees should be prepared to devote a significant amount of time to shadowing their mentor during the release cycle. Successful Release Team Shadows should be prepared to assume a lead role in a subsequent release.

Individual Contributors

Release responsibilities of individual contributors to the Kubernetes project are captured below

During a patch release

If you have a patch that needs to be ported back to a previous release (meaning it is a critical bug/security fix), once it is merged to the Kubernetes master branch:

During a major/minor release

Propose and track enhancement

If you are developing an enhancement for Kubernetes, make sure that an issue is open in the enhancements repository. If you are targeting a particular release, make sure the issue is marked with the corresponding release milestone.

Ensure that all code for your enhancement is written, tested, reviewed, and merged before code freeze date for the target release.

During the code freeze period, fix any bugs discovered with your enhancement, and write enhancement documentation.

Write enhancement documentation
  1. Make sure your enhancement for the upcoming release is on the github release tracking board (e.g. link for 1.26).
  2. Create a PR with documentation for your enhancement in the documents repo.
    • Your PR should target the release branch (e.g. release-1.6), not the master branch.
      • Any changes to the master branch become live on as soon as they are merged, and for releases we do not want documentation to go live until the release is cut.
  3. Add link to your docs PR in the release tracking board, and notify the docs lead for the release ( Release team details for each release can be found under the releases directory. E.g. Docs lead for 1.26).
  4. The docs lead will review your PR and give you feedback.
  5. Once approved, the docs lead will merge your PR into the release branch.
  6. When the release is cut, the docs lead will push the docs release branch to master, making your docs live on

Other activities of the Release Team

During "Major" releases

To date no major release has been scheduled, however, SIG Release would be responsible for working closely with SIG Testing to coordinate this effort across SIGs. The precise work required to produce a major release (e.g. 2.0, 3.0) is undefined.

During "Security" releases

For all unplanned or embargoed releases

Release Team Selection

If you're interested in learning more about how the Release Team is selected, as well as how to volunteer, please review the Release Team Selection Process.

Milestone Maintainers

The milestone maintainers are responsible for adding, adapting, or removing a milestone, e.g. the next major Kubernetes release, on an enhancement, issue, PR.

Across release cycles, a "/milestone" is one of the best signals for issue triage whether or not an issue or PR is actually targeted for the current release milestone.

Each release cycle, the current Release Team Lead must update membership to the aforementioned GitHub team.

The actual process of maintaining milestones is owned by the SIGs and special elected contributors. The SIG release team steers the enhancement through the release cycle and take care that only well maintained enhancements will make it up to a new major release.

Filing exceptions

The process for filing an enhancement exception can be found here.

Visual Release Path

The diagram below shows a high level overview of tasks of the release team sub teams (CI Signal, Bug Triage, Enhancements, Docs, Comms, Release Notes) during a release cycle.

graph LR
    START([Start of Release Cycle])
    START --> SET
    EF --> FBOD
    EF --> CMT
    EIP --> CF
    CF --> DPD
    TF --> FDRN

    END((Release Day))
    TEST --> END
    EAARB --> END
    DCF --> END
    FBRD --> END
    RNC --> END

    subgraph Enhancements
        SET[Start Enhancements Tracking] --> EF[Enhancements Freeze]
        EF --> CF[Code Freeze]
        CF --> TF[Test Freeze]

    subgraph Docs
        DPD[Docs Placeholder Deadline] --> DRD[Docs Ready For Review Deadline]
        DRD --> DCF[Docs Complete Deadline]

    subgraph Comms
        FBOD[Feature Blog Opt-in Deadline] --> RBRD[Release Blog Ready For Review Deadline]
        RBRD --> FBRD[Feature Blogs Ready For Review Deadline]

    subgraph Release Notes
        CMT[Start Collecting Major Themes] --> FDRN[Start Final Draft of Release Notes]
        FDRN --> RNC[Release Note Complete]

    subgraph Bug Triage
        TA[Track All Issues and PRs] --> EIP[Escalate Issues and PRs]
        TF --> EAARB[Ensure Attention on Any Release-Blocking and Major Bug Fix PRs]

    subgraph CI Signal
        MONITOR[Monitor E2E Tests and All Jobs In SIG Release Dashboards]
        MONITOR --> OPEN[Open Issues For Failing Or Flaking Jobs]
        CF --> ESCALATE[Escalate Any New Failures]
        OPEN --> ESCALATE
        EAARB --> TEST[Ensure Tests have Stabilized]
        ESCALATE --> TEST

    classDef cluster fill:#fff,stroke:#bbb,stroke-width:2px,color:#326ce5;
    classDef plain fill:#ddd,stroke:#fff,stroke-width:4px,color:#000;
    classDef k8s fill:#326ce5,stroke:#fff,stroke-width:4px,color:#fff;
    class START,END plain;
    class SET,EF k8s;
    class DPD,DRD,DCF k8s;
    class FBOD,RBRD,FBRD k8s;
    class CMT,FDRN,RNC k8s;
    class TA,EIP,TF k8s;

The diagram below provides an overview of the work done by KEP authors during the release process and how it relates to release deadlines.

graph TD

    subgraph Release Team Schedule
        START[Start of Release Cycle]
        START_ENHANCEMENTS_TRACKING[Start Enhancements Tracking]
        ENHANCEMENTS_FREEZE[Enhancements Freeze]
        FEATURE_BLOG_FREEZE[Feature Blog Freeze]
        CODE_FREEZE[Code Freeze]
        DOCS_PLACEHOLDER_FREEZE[Docs Placeholder PR Deadline]
        TEST_FREEZE[Test Freeze]
        DOCS_READY_FOR_REVIEW[Docs PR Ready For Review Deadline]
        FEATURE_BLOG_READY_FOR_REVIEW[Feature Blog PR Ready For Review Deadline]
        DOCS_FREEZE[Docs Freeze]
        END[Release Day]


    subgraph Before the Release
        DISCUSS[Introduce and discuss your enhancements with sponsoring and participating SIGs]
        ISSUE[Create or Update Enhancement Issue]
        KEP[Create or Update Kubernetes Enhancements Proposal]

        DISCUSS --> ISSUE
        ISSUE --> KEP

    subgraph During the Release
        OPT_IN[Opt-in to the Release]
        KEP_DONE[KEP Approved and Merged]
        CODE_COMPLETE[All k/k PRs Merged]
        TEST_COMPLETE[All Test PRs Merged]
        FEATURE_BLOG_OPT_IN[Opt-in for Feature Blog]
        FEATURE_BLOG_POST_COMPLETE[Complete Feature Blog]

        DOCS_PLACEHOLDER_COMPLETE[Docs Placeholder PR Created]
        DOCS_READY_TO_REVIEW_COMPLETE[Docs Finished, PR Ready for Review]
        DOCS_COMPLETE[k/website PR Merged]

        KEP --> OPT_IN
        OPT_IN --> |Work On KEP| KEP_DONE
        KEP_DONE --> |Work On Code| CODE_COMPLETE
        KEP_DONE --> |Work On Test| TEST_COMPLETE

        KEP_DONE --> | Optional | FEATURE_BLOG_OPT_IN 

        DOCS_READY_TO_REVIEW_COMPLETE ---> |Address Feedback From Reviewers | DOCS_COMPLETE

    subgraph After the Release
        END --> FEATURE_BLOG_PUBLISHED[Feature Blogs Published]


    classDef cluster fill:#fff,stroke:#bbb,stroke-width:2px,color:#326ce5;
    classDef plain fill:#ddd,stroke:#fff,stroke-width:4px,color:#000;
    classDef k8s fill:#326ce5,stroke:#fff,stroke-width:4px,color:#fff;
    class KEP_AUTHOR plain;
    class DISCUSS,ISSUE,KEP k8s;