Crossplane is now a CNCF Incubating project

A little more than a year ago, Upbound donated the Crossplane project to the CNCF as it was accepted into the CNCF Sandbox. It is with great pleasure that we announce today that the project has been approved to move to the next phase as a CNCF incubating project! There is no question that this advancement in maturity is the direct result of tireless efforts from an amazing group of contributors and adopters of Crossplane, so we are immensely grateful to the entire community for helping make this happen.

A Consistent Vision

As we were reflecting on the growth and achievements of Crossplane since being accepted into the Sandbox, one thing that really sticks out in our minds is that even though the experience of the project has evolved over time (in response to great feedback from an informed community), the vision of the project is largely the same as when the project first started. This consistency speaks to the strength of a universal control plane and how it is truly resonating within the greater cloud native ecosystem. Bassam Tabbara, a creator of Crossplane and Founder of Upbound, delivered an excellent pitch on the Crossplane vision for a universal control plane way back in 2019, that is definitely worth a revisit as we set our sights on the road ahead.

The Community Keeps Growing

While building our case for Incubation and performing due diligence, we got the chance to revisit all of the major milestones and progress in the project since first entering the sandbox. The full due diligence document is publicly available for anyone interested in a deeper dive into the specific criteria for a CNCF project to reach the Incubating status, but we’ll hit all the highlights in this post!

We’ve seen impressive growth in the community statistics, indicating greater adoption and a growing ecosystem of people getting involved with the project. Many stats have increased by at least 50% in the last 9 months since being accepted into Sandbox, such as the number of GitHub stars (~2,000 to 3,680+) and commits to the project (~2,000 to 3,430+). Other metrics have seen greater relative increases, such as container downloads (13x), Slack members (4x), and contributors (3x). More than 100 different companies have now contributed code to Crossplane!

One particular area of growth that we’re most excited about is that we have started to receive non-trivial feature contributions from the greater community, such as bi-directional patching of composite resources, and composition patchSets, which indicates a more serious adoption and commitment on their part. If you too want to get more involved in the project, there are lots of opportunities to contribute code, review pull requests, help answer questions, and even become a full maintainer!

First Major Milestone Ready for Production

The biggest accomplishment of note from the Crossplane community is the release of v1.0, the first major milestone in the project’s history, which was followed by even more improvements up to the latest release of v1.4. With these versions of Crossplane, the project has now reached a level of stability, reliability, and maturity to be declared stable and ready to be used in production scenarios.

The core APIs have been moved to v1 (stable) and future enhancements and improvements are intended to be done in a backwards compatible way with a clear upgrade path. We do not anticipate any further breaking changes in subsequent minor and patch releases, so you can deploy Crossplane with peace of mind to your production environments.

Strong Partnerships with the Ecosystem

Through our mission to build a universal control plane that standardizes access to resources and services across a wide range of providers and environments, we’ve been building solid relationships with some great partners in the ecosystem. Some highlights of these partnerships are included below:

  • IBM developed and released the first version of their Crossplane provider for IBM Cloud, enabling the provisioning and management of 85+ hosted services from the IBM Cloud Catalog.
  • Engineering teams from both AWS and Azure have joined forces with the Crossplane community to share their code generation pipelines, allowing the Crossplane providers for AWS and Azure to increase their coverage and more easily stay updated with changes in their cloud offerings.
  • RedHat partners with Crossplane for infrastructure provisioning, with a focus on hybrid scenarios. Crossplane has been available on since it’s v0.9 release.
  • Alibaba Cloud's internal platforms have adopted Crossplane to model and manage their infrastructure resources. Their KubeVela project also uses Crossplane as a cloud resource provider to provision infrastructure resources and bind to applications.

Jay Pipes, Principal Engineer at AWS, summarizes the benefits of our partnership below:

"The AWS Controllers for Kubernetes (ACK) team has been collaborating with the Crossplane contributor community for more than a year. Always friendly and helpful, Crossplane contributors like Muvaffak Onus and Nic Cope have helped to shape what ACK is today. Joining the CNCF Incubator is a great win for the CNCF and Crossplane alike, and we're looking forward to even greater collaboration in the years to come.”

There is no doubt that the entire Crossplane community will continue investing in building more partnerships like these, to accelerate the delivery of our vision.

Production Adoption

With Crossplane reaching maturity, we are seeing end-users adopt Crossplane and find success running it in their production environments. We consistently hear from users that have built their own custom platforms APIs to enable self-service provisioning for their developers and accelerate the delivery of their software to production. The community growth has been quite encouraging, so let’s dive into a few success stories from our many production adopters!

BBD is a software development company that helps businesses from many sectors with digital solutions that drive seamless processes and smart systems. They are possibly the oldest production adopters as they have been running Crossplane in their production environments for over 18 months now. They are making effective use of Compositions within their production clusters and are currently managing around 7 teams and around 70 of production workloads. They have plans to continue scaling their Crossplane usage throughout various clients and projects.

“Crossplane has been a fantastic addition to our architecture with its ability to provision and manage resources (both inside and outside the cloud, using custom providers) in the same way as all of our standard Kubernetes resources. This has allowed us to package our applications and related infrastructure together. The extensible control plane has allowed us to mitigate traditional Infrastructure as Code problems such as drift. Additionally, Crossplane has facilitated the creation of a platform API which allows our software engineering teams to create their own resources through abstractions, without requiring in-depth knowledge of, and access to the underlying infrastructure.”
Jason Parry, Software & Site Reliability Engineer, BBD

CloudCheckr provides total visibility and insight into cloud management to lower costs, maintain security and compliance, and optimize resources. They have successfully deployed Crossplane into production, in fact replacing many instances of their previous usage of Terraform. CloudCheckr has been successfully utilizing Crossplane to provision and manage cloud services for their production applications running in Kubernetes, while easily integrating with their existing CI/CD pipelines.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t room to include all of Crossplane’s production adopters in this blog post, but feel free to learn more in the full due diligence document, and definitely reach out to us if you are also a successful adopter of Crossplane. We love hearing your success stories!

Conformance in the Ecosystem

As the adoption, partners, vendors, and contributors continues to grow, the diversity amongst the ecosystem continues to grow as well. With this variety of both Providers and Distributions, there comes a need for a consistent set of expectations in their behavior and usage. To this end, we have taken steps to define a Crossplane Conformance Program with the CNCF, in order to give end users the confidence that when they use a Certified Crossplane offering, they can rely on a high level of consistent and common functionality. This will enable the Crossplane community to continue to grow and thrive among both vendors and adopters. Now that the project has reached the Incubating status, we hope to push this conformance program towards final approval, so be on the lookout for more news soon!

The Road Ahead

As we draw this Incubation reflection to a close, we turn our sights forward to the exciting future ahead and the path to full Graduation with the CNCF. We will continue our 8-week cadence for minor releases, and so the next planned release will be v1.5 scheduled for October 26th.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to try out Crossplane for yourself yet, feel free to dive right into the Welcome section of the latest docs, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help and questions on Slack.

We are very much a community driven project - we listen to what the community has to say and want to ensure we continue to deliver value for all our adopters. You can get more insight into the upcoming roadmap of exciting features, and always feel free to weigh in with your opinion. There are many ways to do that, from opening and commenting on issues, joining the community meetings, to providing feedback on design docs and pull requests.

We absolutely love to hear from the community, as they are exactly what makes this project great. Whether you are a developer, user, or just interested in what we're up to, feel free to join us via one of the following methods:

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