Getting Started with Helm

Engineering
Buddhi
by Buddhi 

What is Helm?

In simple terms, Helm is a package manager for Kubernetes. Helm is the K8s equivalent of yum or apt. Helm deploys charts, which you can think of as a packaged application. It is a collection of all your versioned, pre-configured application resources which can be deployed as one unit. You can then deploy another version of the chart with a different set of configuration.

Helm helps in three key ways:

  • Improves productivity
  • Reduces the complexity of deployments of microservices
  • Enables the adaptation of cloud native applications

What are Helm charts?

Helm Charts are simply Kubernetes YAML manifests combined into a single package that can be advertised to your Kubernetes clusters. Once packaged, installing a Helm Chart into your cluster is as easy as running a single helm install, which really simplifies the deployment of containerized applications.

Features:

  • Templating engine
  • Ease in sharing and recording

Describing a Helm chart

Helm has a certain structure when you create a new chart. To create, run “helm create YOUR-CHART-NAME”. Once this is created, the directory structure should look like:

YOUR-CHART-NAME/
|
|- .helmignore
|
|- Chart.yaml
|
|- values.yaml
|
|- charts/
|
|- templates/
  • .helmignore: This holds all the files to ignore when packaging the chart. Similar to .gitignore, if you are familiar with git.
  • Chart.yaml: This is where you put all the information about the chart you are packaging. So, for example, your version number, etc. This is where you will put all those details.
  • Values.yaml: This is where you define all the values you want to inject into your templates.
  • Charts: This is where you store other charts that your chart depends on. You might be calling another chart which your chart may need to function properly.
  • Templates: This folder is where you put the actual manifest you are deploying with the chart. For example you might be deploying an nginx deployment that needs a service, configmap and secrets. You will have your deployment.yaml, service.yaml, config.yaml and secrets.yaml all in the template dir. They will all get their values from values.yaml from above.

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