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Savitha Talks About Kubernetes

I’m happy this week to be talking to a fellow MathWorker: Savitha Raghunathan. Why, you may ask, should I use the MATLAB Community blog to talk to someone I work with? Because Savitha is a dedicated and active participant in the larger open source software development community, something that’s very important to us at MathWorks. She works in a platform infrastructure role here that supports the product development teams. That means she’s on the leading edge of learning about cloud technologies and how we can use and deploy them. In the world of cloud computing these days, all roads lead to (or through) the open source container management system Kubernetes. A few years ago Savitha took a great interest in Kubernetes and decided to get involved. And that is where our story begins.

Incidentally, you may notice a theme running through Savitha’s comments, a theme that I always like to spotlight and amplify: contributing to a community brings joy. It’s a kind of sunshine, good for the soul. And we could all use a little bit of soul-cleaning these days, right?

Q. What is your role at MathWorks?

A. I love to research and prototype. During my Platform engineering roles here at the MathWorks, I have been able to research technologies starting from application hosting to container orchestration. So, I would say that I am an experimenter of cloud-native technologies at MathWorks.

Q. When and how did you get involved with Kubernetes?

A. In 2018, I was designing a self-serve PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) to host internal applications on-demand using Kubernetes. The more I learned about Kubernetes while working on the project, the more fascinated I became. Slowly I started to learn about the K8s (shorthand for Kubernetes) community, and I got this incredible opportunity to attend KubeCon North America 2018. I registered to participate as a mentee in one of the speed mentoring sessions. I would say that this session was a turning point in my life. I came to know about contributing back to the ecosystem, got a lot of pointers on how and where to get started, and learned about shadow programs. It gave me the much-needed push to be a part of this project. I diligently attended several SIG (Special Interest Group) meetings. My first contribution was fixing a 404 URL in https://kubernetes.io/, and I have not looked back since then.

Q. What roles have you played at Kubernetes?

A. I started as a contributor and became a member of the Kubernetes organization. I have been a part of the Kubernetes Release Team since 1.18. I was a docs team shadow in 1.18, and then I led the K8s 1.19 docs team. Currently, I am a Release Lead Shadow for 1.20. In addition to that, I am also a New Membership Coordinator (NMC) for Kubernetes organizations. As a part of this role, I get to welcome new members into the organization, which is exciting.

Q. What attracted you to the project?

A. Kubernetes community. It is comprised of truly kind, passionate, and outstandingly smart folks who want to help and mentor newcomers, in addition to making Kubernetes so cool.

Q. What are some things that you’ve learned from your work on Kubernetes?

A. The Kubernetes 1.19 release cycle started in April 2020 amidst the pandemic, and it was one of the longest release cycles that I have been a part of. It taught me to be compassionate, not to be afraid to ask for help, lead a geographically diverse volunteer-based team, be a good mentor, be kind, and helpful.

Q. Do you plan to keep contributing to Kubernetes or to other open source projects? What are some roles you’d like to fill in the future?

A. Yes, contributing to OSS makes me happy. I will continue to contribute to Kubernetes documentation, release, contributor experience, mentoring, and security efforts. I will be tech leading sig-security-documentation sub-project.

Q. What would you say to someone who is considering participating Kubernetes or something like it?

A. Contributing to open-source projects allows learning something new. It lets me give back and be a part of that community. It also provides a way to meet folks from all around the world, which teaches how to work asynchronously. There are a lot of ways to contribute. Find your passion! Be it Documentation, Marketing, Program Management, Community engagement, Automation, and so on, Kubernetes and many other open-source projects are always looking for new contributors.

Q. Given that contributing to open source projects like Kubernetes isn’t strictly part of your day job, would you say you have a good work-life balance?

A. Yes. MathWorks is a wonderful place to work, where work-life balance is guaranteed. I also have a supportive team and management who encourage and help with balancing OSS work. The key to finding the right balance is to talk to your team & management first, win over their support, do not over-commit, ask for help in the OSS community as there is always someone willing to help.

Q. What’s a good way to get started with Kubernetes?

A. There are plenty of resources and processes to welcome new contributors to the Kubernetes community.

Talk to your management and legal team about your intention to contribute to open source and get the required approval.

Start here – https://www.kubernetes.dev/docs/

Look for issues with the tags good-first-issues or help-wanted.

Participate in SIG (Special Interest Group) meetings in which you are interested.

Apply for shadow opportunities in the Release team.

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