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Comcast makes waves in open source

Comcast's amplified focus on open source projects reached a milestone with word that two projects – Kuberhealthy and Trickster – recently were accepted as "Sandbox" projects by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

Kuberhealthy, a project created by Comcast's Eric Greer, was developed to help the operator perform real-time monitoring of the health of its Kubernetes clusters at scale, and to stream that data into a Prometheus dashboard that tracks cloud native applications. Meanwhile, Trickster, created by Comcast's James Ranson, speeds up how dashboards are rendered to Comcast from Prometheus.

Trickster and Kuberhealthy are the first Comcast-originated open source projects to achieve 'Sandbox' status at the CNCF. 
(Image source: Comcast)
Trickster and Kuberhealthy are the first Comcast-originated open source projects to achieve 'Sandbox' status at the CNCF.
(Image source: Comcast)

Kuberhealthy and Trickster, which are both in Comcast's cloud native production networks, are the first two open source projects originating at Comcast to achieve Sandbox status at the CNCF.

Sandbox is the CNCF's entry point for early stage projects that show promise for further adoption and contributions and enhancements from other open source developers. Acceptance into the CNCF Sandbox is typically reserved for open source projects that achieve a high level of technical maturity and engagement and collaboration.

"I think it's a huge milestone," said Nithya Ruff, executive director, open source program office, Comcast. "We are big believers that we should contribute back to open source and encourage our engineers and developers to contribute back ... If you are in the business of software development these days, you can't help but use open source."

Engagement with the CNCF about potential contributions came after the projects were hosted on GitHubs that allowed access outside of Comcast, and had started to build momentum.

"We always had the goal of taking it broader to the world, but they [the CNCF] called us and said, 'We'd love to see if you want to be part of the Sandbox,'" said Ruff. "It gives me a lot of pride that [Kuberhealthy and Trickster] now sit in a global organization like the CNCF ... It is really hard to grow as a project and find relevance and find users and to keep growing the community."

Ruff joined Comcast in 2017 to help the company become more active in the open source community and to also make Comcast's open source activity more intentional, strategic and coordinated across its engineers and technologists.

Ruff, who runs an advisory board that helps developers document and bring their projects to the open source community, noted that Comcast is also taking a closer look at other open source projects in the pipeline that could be contributed in much the same way.

While Kuberhealthy and Trickster are the first two open source projects to achieve Sandbox status at the CNCF, Comcast has had some open source success with other organizations.

In 2018, for example, the Apache Software Foundation designated Apache Traffic Control – an open source project focused on large-scale content delivery networks that originated at Comcast – as a top-level project. Traffic Control, a CDN control plane originally built for the caching software Apache Traffic Server, was first released as an open source project in the spring of 2015.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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