Top 10 Helm Charts

What are the best helm charts to install on your shiny new Kubernetes cluster? Here’s a highly opinionated list.

 NameJustification
1ingress-nginxThe most common front end proxy in the world. Incredibly versatile and simple to setup. There may be better ingresses depending on your scenario but this covers the 99%.
2corednsSupercharge your DNS with the best server available on Kubernetes. Default KubeDNS is a bit crap so you should definitely switch it out. You also get to enable some cool plugins that work with other applications mentioned like Prometheus.
3PrometheusEverybody should be using Prometheus. It provides custom time series monitoring which will let you instrument your code and watch pretty graphs in Grafana. You can also setup alerts to get notified when production crashes or latency starts making customers sad. You'll need Grafana and kube-state-metrics charts too.
4IstioConnect your microservices over the Istio service mesh and unlock a load of cool features. Traffic flow control, authorization and authentication, encryption and observability. You can remove a whole chunk of application logic from your micro services and let Istio handle it.
5NuclioNuclio is our favourite of all of the FaaS applications currently available. It provides Serverless Functions for Real-Time and Data-Driven Applications, so same deal as AWS Lambda except on your cluster.
6JaegerDistributed tracing for your applications. Trace every api call as it passes through every micro service. We all know the biggest problem with micro-services is observability. This goes a long way towards solving that problem.
7FluentdCapture and emit logs to ElasticSearch for forensically working out what went wrong with your microservice by searching the logs for errors. You'll need the Kibana chart too.
8AnchoreWho doesn't need security nowadays. You'll need this to catch vulnerabilities and integrate with your CI/CD pipeline.
9JenkinsCI/CD for your containers. Everybody runs it, not many like it, but it's insanely popular and is the default until somebody installs Gitlab.
10NATSA cool PubSub messaging system. Not all internal communication needs to go over api's. Has some cool streaming features too.

It was really hard narrowing down to the 10 we like the most. There are some really awesome applications that didn’t quite make it. In the end we prioritised core functionality upgrades and features that massively help developers.

Ark

Heptio Ark is a utility for managing disaster recovery, specifically for your Kubernetes cluster resources and persistent volumes.

Nobody really enjoys writing backup and restore scripts. We recommend you have a look at this application to take care of these things for you.

Gitlab

Arguably Gitlab is better than Jenkins and should be on the list instead. However, you can’t ignore that literally everyone runs Jenkins. So we sided with the popular vote this time.

Traefik and Ambassador

Another contentious entry was ingress-nginx at number 1 in the list. Plenty of people said “I would swap nginx with [ Traefik | Ambassador ].

We sided with the noobs and popularity on this one. More advanced users will ultimately move away from nginx-ingress over time and investigate these two options instead.

external-dns

We run external-dns on most of our clusters. It manages automatically updating our external DNS records.

Compared to the other items on the list it doesn’t provide as much functionality. Although arguably you’ll need to install it at some point to avoid manual config.

Magic Namespace

Magic Namespace is a helm chart for managing security between namespaces. If you’re running a multi-tenant cluster this is definitely something you should look into.

chaoskube

Everyone loves the chaos monkey.

We couldn’t justify telling people to install a chart that randomly kills pods on their cluster when starting out. Chaoskube is for those advanced enough to enjoy the┬ásadomasochism of chaos engineering.

Kubernetes Dashboard and kube-ops-view

These dashboard applications didn’t quite make it onto the list. If you’re in the mood for some nice visual UI’s that show cluster state then kube-ops-view is great. If you prefer to click buttons then Kubernetes Dashboard may be for you.

cert manager

cert-manager is a Kubernetes application to automate the management and issuance of TLS certificates from various issuing sources.

If you’re bored of creating custom bits of automation around services like LetsEncrypt then have a look at cert manager.

Envoy

This one is a bit of a tragedy. Envoy is an absolutely awesome edge and service proxy that nobody really uses directly as a helm chart. It’s bundled up in some of the charts in the Top10 like Istio. So I’m giving it a shout out here anyway as that’s only fair.

Spinnaker

Spinnaker is a really popular CI/CD platform open sourced by Netflix. It didn’t make the top10 list this time because it’s a bit of a beast. It requires a lot of planning to setup and then it’s really configurable and encompasses a lot of the stuff that would usually be done in Terraform. Check it out if you have a team of people, complex application and need a really powerful solution to replace your hacked together Jenkins jobs.

Kong

If you expose API’s to the outside world, which most of us running Kubernetes do, you should check out Kong. It’s an API gateway that helps you manage a whole bunch of standard stuff like authentication, routing, logging etc. It also has a plugin system that extends it with some very nice features.

If you’d like to suggest an application worthy of the top list please leave us a message below or click the contact form at the top. Thanks!

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