Helm is a Kubernetes deployment tool that automates the design, packaging, setup, and deployment of Kubernetes applications and services.
Kubernetes is a robust container-management solution for application deployment. There are several separate resources to manage, each with its YAML manifest file.
This blog covers Helm & Helm charts and how to automate Kubernetes application deployment.
What is Helm?
Helm can be its package manager if Kubernetes serves as an operating system. Just like Ubuntu employs apt, CentOS has yum – Kubernetes uses Helm.
Helm launches bundled apps to Kubernetes and organizes them into charts. The charts include all pre-configured app resources as well as all versions into a single, readily managed bundle.
Helm simplifies installing, updating, obtaining dependencies, & configuring Kubernetes installations using simple CLI commands. Software packages can be found in repositories or generated.
Why do we need Helm?
Kubernetes objects are difficult to handle. The Kubernetes learning curve becomes smooth & manageable with the assistance of helpful tools. Helm packages data into charts & advertises them to a Kubernetes cluster to automate the updating of YAML manifests for Kubernetes objects.
Helm maintains a versioned history of each chart installation and update. It uses comprehensible commands to roll back to a prior version or upgrade to a newer one.
Helm enables software developers to deploy and test environments in the most straightforward manner possible. It takes less time to go from development through testing to production.
In addition to increasing productivity, Helm provides a straightforward solution for developers to package and transmit programs to end users for installation.
Why use Helm:
Without Helm, manually deploying your apps seems difficult. You have to define every YAML configuration – from defining your workloads to how (and what) you need their deployment.
And it doesn’t stop there. Consider what would happen after upgrading the application after defining and debugging the YAML. You will have to manually delete all produced resources and re-deploy them for the next version, which may partly alleviate if you build more files for automation, but it will take more time.
Helm is a simple version of this. With Helm, you can easily download the Helm chart you want, deploy it in the cluster, and easily change or delete it. Helm has various advantages for your application:
- Provides Helm charts & repositories where you can obtain everything you need for deployment and setup.
- Official Helm charts are always up to current and kept up to date with new releases.
- Allows you to switch between your chosen Helm chart versions.
- Do everything with a single CLI command.
How does Helm work with Kubernetes?
Helm and Kubernetes operate in a client/server model. The Helm client is responsible for pushing resources to the Kubernetes cluster. The server side varies on the version: Helm 2 utilizes Tiller, however, Helm 3 does not use Tiller and instead relies fully on the Kubernetes API.
Helm can help with package management, but how do you create the packages? And how does Helm interact with Kubernetes to maintain and install these packages?
A Helm chart is a collection of YAML manifests & templates that define Kubernetes resources (Deployments, CRD, etc.) and defined configurations that the Kubernetes application requires. It is also simple to deploy in a Kubernetes cluster or on a single node with a single command.
The chart’s files are in a primary directory. This directory contains the chart’s name and the version number of the chart package. The chart directory has a precise structure that must be followed, and you can also create it with the Helm create command.
The chart.yaml file provides all of the chart’s metadata, including dependent helm charts:
- This YAML outlines the official Falco chart. Falco is a Cloud Native Runtime Security tool that detects unusual activity in the app.
- The version tag identifies the version of the chart itself, while the appVersion shows the version of the embedded application in chart.yaml.
- The dependencies are a list of charts that the current one requires, which Helm will download at the time of installation. Falco depends on falcoside kick, a daemon that connects Falco to your ecosystem by taking its events and passing them to various outputs in a fan-out fashion.
How Do Helm Charts Work?
Helm charts have three fundamental concepts:
- Chart – A pre-configured Kubernetes resource template.
- Release – A chart deployed to a Kubernetes cluster with Helm.
- Repository – Charts that are freely available to the public.
The procedure is to search for charts in repositories and install them on Kubernetes clusters, resulting in releases.
Helm Chart Repositories:
These are locations where you can find charts that you can install or share with other users. Helm has a command that allows you to search straight from the client. There are two sorts of searches: broad and specific.
- helm search hub – Searches hundreds of repositories in the Artifact Hub.
- helm search repo – Looks for repositories that have been added to the local helm client using helm repo add.
Helm architecture: Internally, Helm is nothing more than a program that you install in your environment to connect with the Kubernetes cluster. Helm v3 technically splits into two parts:
- The Helm Client: The command line interface for end users. The component responsible for:
- Development of a local chart.
- Taking care of repositories and releases.
- Helm Library interaction to carry out the user’s instructions (sending charts for installation or requesting upgrading/uninstalling existing releases).
- The Helm Library: The rationale for executing Helm operations:
- It uses the Kubernetes client library to connect with the Kubernetes API.
- It does not require its database. Instead, it saves the data in Kubernetes secrets.
- Creates a release by combining charts and configurations.
- Installs, updates, or removes charts (and their associated resources) from your Kubernetes cluster.
- Captures the helm logic, allowing portability between platforms.
To sum up
Helm is an important Kubernetes tool that makes deployment easier.
It’s basic and straightforward. The ability to create your charts and repositories and the available documentation are the features that distinguish Helm as a good Kubernetes package management. It is a must-have tool for every developer that works with or builds apps for Kubernetes.
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