kops DevOps for Kubernetes

kops is an Open Source top level Kubernetes project. Kops is an abbreviation for Kubernetes Operations. From the README in the project:

kops helps you create, destroy, upgrade and maintain production-grade, highly available, Kubernetes clusters from the command line. AWS (Amazon Web Services) is currently officially supported, with GCE and VMware vSphere in alpha, and other platforms planned.

Founded by the Kubernetes Team in 2016. Justin Santa Barbara said that he did not find kops, but it found us. Mike DaneseZach Loafman, Justin, and many other people from the Kubernetes team contributed to the initial creation of kops.

kops is DevOps

Wikipedia’s DevOps Definition

DevOps (a clipped compound of “development” and “operations”) is a software engineering practice that aims at unifying software development (Dev) and Software operation (Ops). The main characteristic of the DevOps movement is to strongly advocate automation and monitoring at all steps of software construction, from integration, testing, releasing to deployment and infrastructure management.

The above definition describes the kops team’s vision for developing kops. Repeatable, tested automation is the core of the philosophy of DevOps. Through code, the kops’ team do the hard things to make it easy for the kops users.

Kops is tested, tested and tested again. Every time a PR is pushed in the main Kubernetes repository, kops builds a cluster in AWS. The end to end Kubernetes tests are then run on that cluster. The kops team is working on getting GCE e2e tests up and running soon.

A key component of DevOps culture is repeatable processes, and cluster configurations can get complicated. One of the problems using CLI tools, in my opinion, is flag hell. kops create cluster has close to 40 different CLI flags. Enter kops create -f mycluster.yaml, to save the day. kops, just as Kubernetes, can be driven by YAML or JSON manifests that can be checked into source control. Coming in kops 1.8.0 the kops team is introducing various templating features as well to help build the manifests.

kops Features

Supported Clouds

  • AWS
  • GCE in kops 1.8.0
  • Alpha support for vSphere
  • Digital Ocean and Bare metal is under development


  • Deploys Highly Available (HA) Kubernetes Masters
  • Ability to generate configuration files for Terraform and AWS CloudFormation
  • Supports custom Kubernetes add-ons
  • Command line autocompletion
  • Manifest Based API Configuration
  • Rolling updates and upgrades that are on par with commercial products
  • Validate that a cluster is up and running
  • Exporting kubeconfig for installed clusters
  • CLI options for edit, create, delete, update, upgrade, rolling-update, validate, and more
  • Full support for RBAC
  • And many many more


I am not going to cover how to install clusters in this post, because the kops project has multiple different tutorials:

Google Compute Engine is still under development, and with the 1.8.0 release will be stable. At the time of writing this post, 1.8.0 is notreleased yet. Either compile master or use the 1.8.0 alpha.

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