Understanding Kubernetes Operators

Understanding Kubernetes Operators
What's in this blog
Share this blog

Introduction to Kubernetes Operators

Kubernetes Operators are custom controllers designed to manage and maintain complex stateful applications within a Kubernetes cluster. They extend the Kubernetes API and utilize Custom Resource Definitions (CRDs) to manage application-specific resources, automating tasks and ensuring consistency.

The Role of Operators in Kubernetes

Operators play a crucial role in managing applications by automating tasks such as deployment, scaling, upgrades, and more. They help administrators maintain the desired state of applications and reduce the manual effort required to manage complex systems.

Creating Kubernetes Operators

Creating Kubernetes Operators involves using the Operator SDK, a set of tools that simplifies the development and management of custom resources and controllers. The Operator SDK supports multiple programming languages and methodologies, allowing developers to choose the most suitable approach for their specific use case. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the process:

  1. Choose a development approach: Depending on your familiarity and expertise, you can choose from three primary approaches to create Kubernetes Operators using the Operator SDK: Go, Ansible, and Helm. Go provides more control and flexibility, while Ansible and Helm offer a higher level of abstraction and are easier to learn.
  2. Define Custom Resource Definitions (CRDs): CRDs are the core components of an Operator, as they define the custom resources that the Operator will manage. You’ll need to define the CRDs specific to your application, which includes specifying the resource’s schema, properties, and validation rules.
  3. Develop custom controllers: Controllers are the logic that watches and manages the custom resources specified by the CRDs. Depending on the development approach you chose, you’ll need to implement the controller logic using the appropriate language or framework (Go, Ansible, or Helm). The controller should manage the desired state of the custom resources and handle any events triggered by changes in the resource state.
  4. Test the Operator: Thoroughly test your Operator to ensure it correctly manages the custom resources and handles all events as expected. You can use the Operator SDK’s built-in testing tools or integrate with external testing frameworks to verify your Operator’s functionality.
  5. Package and deploy the Operator: Once the Operator is developed and tested, you can package it into a container image and deploy it to a Kubernetes cluster. The Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM) can be used to manage the lifecycle of your Operator, including updates, versioning, and dependency management.
  6. Monitor and maintain the Operator: Continuously monitor your Operator’s performance and behavior to ensure it is effectively managing your application’s custom resources. Address any issues or bugs that may arise, and update the Operator as needed to accommodate changes in the application or Kubernetes environment.

By following these steps, you can create a Kubernetes Operator tailored to manage and automate the complex tasks associated with your specific application.

Operator Framework and SDK

The Operator Framework is a collection of tools that support the development and management of Kubernetes Operators. The framework includes the Operator SDK, which simplifies the creation of Operators, and the Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM), which manages the lifecycle of Operators within a cluster.

Use Cases for Kubernetes Operators

Kubernetes Operators are ideal for managing complex applications such as databases, message queues, and other stateful systems. They can automate tasks like deploying new instances, scaling, backup, and recovery, ensuring that the application remains highly available and resilient.

Glossary of Terms

  • Kubernetes: An open-source container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.
  • Operator: A custom controller designed to manage and maintain complex stateful applications within a Kubernetes environment.
  • Custom Resource Definition (CRD): A Kubernetes feature that allows users to define custom resources and extend the Kubernetes API.



Kubernetes Operators play a vital role in managing complex applications within a Kubernetes environment. They automate tasks, maintain application state, and utilize the Operator Framework and SDK for development and management. Operators are ideal for managing databases and other stateful systems, ensuring high availability and resilience. Reach out to our experts for assistance with your Kubernetes project.

Subscribe to our newsletter