Simplifying and Managing Helm Charts: Why We Built Helm Support Into Torque

Date Posted: 03.15.22
Read Time: 10 min

Written by: Amir Rozenberg, VP of Product

Helm has earned its industry reputation as a valuable package manager for Kubernetes, allowing developers to package, configure, and easily deploy applications and services onto Kubernetes clusters. Users accomplish this with Helm Charts, which are individual collections of files that describe a related set of Kubernetes resources.

In reality, developers are not the sole group involved in the context of Helm Charts. DevOps teams are the ones who create and maintain the Kubernetes cluster in which the Helm Chart is deployed. Further, the expertise required to design a Helm chart and maintain it resides with the DevOps team. They are also responsible for aspects of the environment that are rarely top of mind for the development team, such as governing cloud access, keys, compliance, security, etc.

As organizations scale with teams, applications and use cases, they are faced with a dilemma. Allowing teams to tweak and proliferate the versions of Helm Charts freely leads to an unmanaged, unrecognizable chaos of cloud architectures. Conversely, centralizing ownership of Helm Charts and the process of launching environments to the DevOps teams exclusively creates bottlenecks that extend release times and impede innovation.

Another key challenge appears when a non-developer needs access to the application: Testers, presales engineers conducting product demos, product managers reviewing the latest changes, etc. Helm Chart deployment is complex. Typically, very few of these stakeholders have the tooling and expertise to deploy an application using a Helm Chart.

Luckily, there’s another option: velocity, collaboration, and governance.

We’re pleased to announce that our infrastructure automation platform Torque is now compatible with Helm, enabling your teams to:

  • Simplify and scale Helm usage by making Charts re-usable within blueprints for application environments
  • Enhance security by creating governance policies and permissions for environments
  • Understand the value of Helm to your applications and organizations with reporting on environments containing Charts

Let’s take a closer look

Creating self-service access to application environments integrated with Helm Charts 

Helm Charts are valuable tools, but they grow increasingly complex as they proliferate. For instance, while they provide a standard way to define and deliver Kubernetes containers, they don’t provide an easy way to use them.

Created as individual instances, many Charts require expertise to make them usable on a Kubernetes cluster. The problem? Speed is critical in delivering the infrastructure required to support the continuous delivery and production needs of an application.

With Torque, DevOps architects create blueprints that integrate Helm Charts. Blueprints are made available on-demand through Torque’s intuitive user interface and integrations with CI/CD and ITSM platforms, so teams can deploy environments containing Charts on demand. This allows all your teams (e.g. development, testers, presales, product etc.) to re-use and scale Charts across all environments where they will be useful, regardless of whether they are experienced Helm users.

Reusable Helm-Based Blueprints are designed by the DevOps team and can be utilized in automation (CLI) or manually

Blueprints also include the entire application stack, applying policies that access the network and infrastructure surrounding the container. As a result, users can deploy environments based on their Helm Charts rapidly, associating them through a software delivery pipeline with minimum risk and maximum efficiency—all while deploying the containers accurately and reliably.

Setting usage policies and managing Helm Charts within a single blueprint

Helm Charts lack the ability to apply customized corporate policies, access, and privileges.

With Torque, blueprints containing Helm Charts can be customized with robust policies and permissions—precise guardrails that enhance security postures for Helm Charts by preventing usage that IT does not approve.

Additionally, Torque blueprints ensure that Charts are implemented consistently within environments, reducing the need for your teams to diagnose and debug a large number of Charts. Rather, they can update a single blueprint to ensure all environments are updated accordingly. 

Reusable Helm-Based Blueprints are designed by the DevOps team and can be utilized in automation (CLI) or manually

Visibility into usage and value of Helm Charts

Even the most experienced Helm user acknowledges that Helm Charts can be difficult to track and analyze. Without any accountability beyond their use to create a Kubernetes container, they don’t provide an understanding of the value that each Chart delivers to the enterprise.

Torque allows Helm users to track and evaluate who is deploying environments containing Helm Charts, as well as when they are using them and for what purpose. These insights help DevOps leaders measure the value delivered by the blueprint, whether that’s by application, BU, or user.

With Torque, Helm users continue to enjoy the robust functionality of Charts while maximizing their value and delivering on the core mission of DevOps teams:

  • Accelerating software development and deployment pipelines that use Kubernetes
  • Streamlining provisioning of infrastructure defined in Helm Charts
  • Optimizing investment in Helm
  • Gaining on-demand access to reliable and repeatable environments

To learn how Torque can help you maximize your existing Helm investment, schedule a demo today.