Intro to Helm

by Dan Kelly

on December 11, 2017

Helm - What is It and Why is It Useful?


Developers that deal with large applications are constantly plagued with versioning problems. They need a system that helps manage version control while still allowing each coder to freely add features to software without hassles. Testing in between versioning and deployment adds an extra layer of complexity to the mix. The solution we suggest implementing is Helm.


Helm is a tool that helps you to version control your software and its dependencies. It can be thought of as a package manager for Kubernetes and the workloads and containers you want to deploy. When you think of large applications, you probably envision the "Googles of the world”. Companies that are faced with maintaining a massive code base with hundreds or thousands of developers making contributions. Microservice based architectures are the name of the game these days in software architecture, where each component of the platform has a more distinct, specific scope deployed via containers that can be spun up and down as needed. A tool like Helm is needed to logically define and keep track of how all of these services connect and interact.


Helm is designed specifically for use with Kubernetes. It works well; with small simple code bases, or even the most complex. It has several features that help us manage deployments and reduce overhead at the same time. Here are just a few benefits you’ll find when you leverage Helm for your Kubernetes deployments.


Rollbacks


Bugs are an inevitable part of the software development process. Even with the right checks in place, bugs can will slip through the cracks and end up deployed. At which point they will begin to do what they do best, cause problems. As an administrator your best course of action is to undo the recent deployment and return your services to their previous working state, aka rollback. From there the bug(s) can be fixed in an isolated environment and prepared for redeployment. In theory this process is simple, but can have a crippling effect on any organizations in terms of revenue, end user experience, and administrator sanity.


Helm manages rollbacks, so developers don't need to remember what to reverse, what to edit or what to downgrade. It's a way to make rollbacks much more smooth, which is tough to do without a system that keeps track of changes.


Building Blocks for Deployment


As developers add features, they build blocks of code that enhance the base code. If you ever played the old Nintendo Tetris, you know that for every block, you have the best space to place it. Removing it means other blocks shift. Developers need something to work with different blocks of code without allowing the entire application to collapse.


Helm is able to manage each of these blocks and organize them for developers to review and manage. You might want to roll back some while keeping others. Helm ensures that you have each block organized for deployment, and it keeps track of them for future deployments.


Repeatable Processes for Complex Deployment


Imagine that you have several building blocks that must deploy to several different containers. These containers could even be hosted on different servers across your network. Not a problem for Helm. Helm manages even the most complex deployment processes.


What's even better for larger businesses is that deployment is mostly repeatable processes and Helm lets you script these processes to make it quicker, easier, and less likely for developers to forget steps and make mistakes. When you have several Kubernetes applications, Helm takes away many of the human errors associated with complex deployments.


Package managers are a must-have in a large development team, and Helm is the perfect solution for Kubernetes. It's the solution for version control, critical unforeseen rollback solutions, and it lets you script complex deployments into a simple "click and go" process.

Look to get started with Helm? The team at Containership can help.

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