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Helm Charts vs. Kubernetes YAML

Written by

Technical Head

Amina Reshma

August 4, 2023 . 4 min read

Helm Charts vs. Kubernetes YAML: Choosing the Right Deployment Approach

Two prominent options in Kubernetes deployment, Helm Charts and Kubernetes YAML, offer different strategies to streamline and manage deployments. Helm Charts, developed by the Helm community, provide higher abstraction and encapsulation, simplifying complex deployments through customizable packages of pre-configured Kubernetes resources.

On the other hand, Kubernetes YAML offers fine-grained control and customization by allowing a direct definition of individual resources. Understanding what is helm charts and their differences with Kubernetes YAML and considering specific needs and requirements will empower organizations to make informed decisions and optimize their deployment workflows.

Let’s explore them in detail below. 

Differences Between Helm Charts and Kubernetes YAML

  • Helm Charts: Comprising YAML files, Helm Charts serve as packages containing pre-configured Kubernetes resources that define the desired application deployment state. Helm Charts shine in their customizability, leveraging templates, variables, and value files to facilitate the management of intricate deployments.

The Helm package manager simplifies the installation, upgrading, and removal of Helm Charts, facilitating versioning and dependency management.

  • Kubernetes YAML: Kubernetes YAML provides a powerful and flexible approach to defining individual Kubernetes resources. With YAML files, users have precise control over the configuration and customization of each resource in a deployment. This fine-grained control allows for the creation of highly tailored deployments to meet specific requirements.

Kubernetes YAML is ideal for environments that demand intricate network policies, security constraints, or specialized configurations. Users can optimize their deployments and fine-tune every aspect of their Kubernetes environment. However, managing extensive deployments solely with YAML files can become repetitive and laborious, requiring meticulous attention to detail.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Approach

  • Deployment Complexity: Helm Charts excel in simplifying the deployment process for managing a multitude of resources or complex configurations. By employing templates and value files, Helm Charts enable the reuse and parameterization of structures, reducing redundancy and fostering consistency across deployments.
  • Reusability and Modularity: Helm Charts, with their higher level of abstraction, prove advantageous in facilitating reusable and modular deployments. Packaging and distributing Helm Charts enable the sharing of standard configurations across teams or projects, ensuring uniformity and efficiency. This aspect is particularly beneficial for managing microservices architectures or deploying applications with similar dependencies.
  • Fine-grained Control: When demanding precise control over individual resources, Kubernetes YAML emerges as the preferred option. YAML files allow for meticulous definitions of each resource, offering the flexibility to tailor configurations to specific requirements. This flexibility proves invaluable when dealing with unique network policies, security constraints, or other specialized configurations.
  • Versioning and Dependency Management: Helm Charts excel in managing versioning and dependency requirements. The Helm package manager streamlines the installation, upgrade, and rollback of Helm Charts, guaranteeing consistency across diverse environments. When confronted with complex dependencies or frequent updates, Helm Charts simplify the management of these intricacies.
  • Learning Curve: Consider the skill level and familiarity of your team members. Kubernetes YAML, being the native language of Kubernetes, may be more accessible to those already well-versed in Kubernetes. Conversely, Helm Charts offer a higher level of abstraction, minimizing the learning curve and allowing newcomers to Kubernetes to get started quickly.

Conclusion/Call to Action

Choosing the most suitable deployment approach between Helm Charts and Kubernetes YAML necessitates evaluating your specific requirements and needs. Helm Charts and Kubernetes YAML editors offer distinct application deployment approaches, each with strengths and considerations.

Understanding these differences and evaluating your needs empowers you to select the best deployment approach for your projects. With Ozone, teams can centrally manage all the Helm charts and create and deploy Helm microservices with zero learning curve. All Helm charts are catalogued on Helm channels that can be modified with a few clicks. 

Regarding YAMLs though, Ozone completely takes away the need to work with them by offering pre-built task, pipeline, and release templates. Editing YAMLs within the templates can be done as well should there be a need to customize them.  

This way, Ozone abstracts away complexities, significantly reduces the learning curve, and streamlines pipeline management in a way that was never done before. 

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