Kubernetes Visually – With VMware Octant

Kubernetes Visually – With VMware Octant

August 20, 2019 0 By Eric Shanks

I don’t know about you, but I learn things best when I have a visual to reference. Many of my posts in this blog are purposefully built with visuals, not only because I think its helpful for the readers to “get the picture”, but also because that’s how I learn.

Kubernetes can feel like a daunting technology to start learning, especially since you’ll be working with code and the command line for virtually all of it. That can be a scary proposition to an operations person who is trying to break into something brand new. But last week I was introduced to a project from VMware called Octant, that helps visualize whats actually going on in our Kubernetes cluster.

Octant gives us a graphical user interface to view whats going on in our Kubernetes cluster. The project runs on your local workstation, so you don’t need a web server or anything provisioned first, and when you’re done using it, you can stop it. Once the service has been installed, you can run it whenever you want just by typing “octant” in your shell.

Once the tool is running, you can open a browser to the dashboard and begin poking around your own Kubernetes cluster. Octant uses the kubeconfig file that was configured to connect to your cluster, so if you’re missing permissions to a certain namespace for example, you won’t be able to view it with octant either.

On the left hand side of the dashboard you’ll have a list of objects to view. Selecting one of those will show a table with the objects and some details about them. For example, you can see the “Selector” configured for a particular deployment in my example below.

Once you find an interesting object to look into further, simply click the object for find more details. For instance I can see my metadata about my pods, and their status.

OK, right now it still kind of looks like a web GUI to show us code again, but take a look at the resource viewer tab. Here, we can see just how our pods, services, ingress rules, replica sets and deployments are all hooked together. What a great way to quickly view resources in your cluster.

If you’re trying to learn Kubernetes, or have just been stuck running dozens of “kubectl” commands over and over just to troubleshoot something, I urge you to take a peak at octant and see if that helps.

Lastly, if you’d like to know more about octant, this TGIK (Thank God it’s Kubernetes) session with Bryan Lisles was a really great show.