The convention service provides a means for people in operational roles to express their hard-won knowledge and opinions about how applications should run on Kubernetes as a convention. The convention service applies these opinions to fleets of developer workloads as they are deployed to the platform, saving operator and developer time.

The service is comprised of two components:

  • The Convention Controller: The Convention Controller provides the metadata to the Convention Server(s) and executes the updates Pod Template Spec(s) as per the Convention Server(s) requests.

  • The Convention Server: The Convention Server receives and evaluates metadata associated with a workload and requests updates to the Pod Template Spec associated with that workload. There can be one or more Convention Servers for a single Convention Controller instance. The convention service currently supports defining and applying conventions for pods.

About Applying Conventions

The convention server uses criteria defined in the convention to determine whether the configuration of a given workload should be changed. The server receives the OCI metadata from the convention controller, if the metadata meets the criteria defined by the convention server, the conventions are applied. It is also possible for a convention to apply to all workloads regardless of metadata.

Applying Conventions Using Image Metadata

Conventions can be defined to target workloads using properties of their OCI metadata.

Conventions can use this information to only apply changes to the configuration of workloads when they match specific critera (for example, spring boot or .net apps, or spring boot v2.3+). Targeted conventions can ensure uniformity across specific workload types deployed on the cluster.

All the metadata details of an image can be used when evaluating workloads, and can be seen with the docker CLI command docker image inspect IMAGE.

Note: Depending on how the image was built, metadata might not be available to reliably identify the image type and match the criteria for a given convention server. Images built with Cloud Native Buildpacks reliably include rich descriptive metadata. Images built by some other process may not include the same metadata.

Applying Conventions without Using Image Metadata

Conventions can also be defined to apply to workloads without targeting build service metadata. Examples of possible uses of this type of convention include appending a logging/metrics sidecar, adding environment variables, or adding cached volumes. These types of conventions can be a great way for operators to ensure infrastructure uniformity across workloads deployed on the cluster while reducing developer toil.

Note: Adding a sidecar alone does not magically make the log/metrics collection work. This requires collector agents to be already deployed and accessible from the Kuberentes cluster and also configuring required access through RBAC policy.

Convention Service Resources

There are two Kubernetes resources involved in the application of conventions to workloads.


apiVersion: conventions.apps.tanzu.vmware.com/v1alpha1
kind: PodIntent

PodIntent applies conventions to a workload. The .spec.template's PodTemplateSpec is enriched by the conventions and exposed as the .status.templates PodTemplateSpec. When a convention is applied, the name of the convention is added as a conventions.apps.tanzu.vmware.com/applied-conventions annotation on the PodTemplateSpec.


apiVersion: conventions.apps.tanzu.vmware.com/v1alpha1
kind: ClusterPodConvention

ClusterPodConvention defines a way to connect to convention servers, and it provides a way to apply a set of conventions to a PodTemplateSpec and the artifact metadata. A convention typically focuses on a particular application framework, but may be cross cutting. Applied conventions must be pure functions.

How it works

API structure

The PodConventionContext API object in the webhooks.conventions.apps.tanzu.vmware.com API group is the structure used for both request and response from the convention server.

In the PodConventionContext API resource: * Object path .spec.template field defines the PodTemplateSpec to be enriched by conventions. * Object path .spec.imageConfig field defines ggcrv1.ConfigFile. Each entry of imageConfig is populated with the name of the image(.spec.imageConfig[].image) and its OCI metadata (.spec.imageConfig[].config). These entries are generated for each image referenced in PodTemplateSpec (.spec.template).

Following is an example of a PodConventionContext resource request that is received by the convention server. This object is generated for Go language based image built with Cloud Native Paketo Buildpacks that uses Go mod for dependency management.

apiVersion: webhooks.conventions.apps.tanzu.vmware.com/v1alpha1
kind: PodConventionContext
  name: sample # the name of the ClusterPodConvention
spec: # the request
  imageConfig: # one entry per image referenced by the PodTemplateSpec
  - image: sample/go-based-image
      - "/cnb/process/web"
      domainname: ""
      architecture: "amd64"
      image: "sha256:05b698a4949db54fdb36ea431477867abf51054abd0cbfcfd1bb81cda1842288"
        "io.buildpacks.stack.distro.version": "18.04"
        "io.buildpacks.stack.homepage": "https://github.com/paketo-buildpacks/stacks"
        "io.buildpacks.stack.id": "io.buildpacks.stacks.bionic"
        "io.buildpacks.stack.maintainer": "Paketo Buildpacks"
        "io.buildpacks.stack.distro.name": "Ubuntu"
        "io.buildpacks.stack.metadata": `{"app":[{"sha":"sha256:ea4ec23266a3af1204fd643de0f3572dd8dbb5697a5ef15bdae844777c19bf8f"}], 
        "io.buildpacks.build.metadata": `{"bom":[{"name":"go","metadata":{"licenses":[],"name":"Go","sha256":"7fef8ba6a0786143efcce66b0bbfbfbab02afeef522b4e09833c5b550d7`...
      - name : workload
        image: helloworld-go-mod

PodConventionContext Structure

Let's expand more on the OCI Image metadata structure present in PodConventionContext. A convention server can use this BOM (Bill of Materials) information to enrich podTemplateSpec (.spec.template).

  • io.buildpacks.stack.metadata: This label contains information about Buildpack's lifecycle metadata for every layer. For more information about individual fields, see buildpacks spec documentation.

  • io.buildpacks.stack.*: This set of labels contain information about Buildpack stack ID, maintainer, distribution details, etc. For more information on stack related labels, see buildpacks spec documentation.

  • io.buildpacks.build.metadata: Contents for label with key io.buildpacks.build.metadata is expanded for the example above. The JSON is converted to YAML for readability.

"io.buildpacks.build.metadata": `{
  #  Bill of Materials for the image
      # Name of the buildpacks used
      # list of Buildpack stacks
    # Buildpack id and version
    "buildpack": {"id":"paketo-buildpacks/go-dist","version":"0.3.1"}
  # detected group of buildpacks
  # contain the version of the launcher binary included in the app
  # launcher.source.git contains the git repository and commit containing the launcher source code. Refer to https://github.com/buildpacks/spec/blob/main/platform.md#launch for more information on launcher process
  "launcher":{"version":"0.11.1", "source":{"git":{"repository":"github.com/buildpacks/lifecycle","commit":"75df86c"}}},
  # buildpack contributed processes

Template Status

The enriched PodTemplateSpec is reflected at .status.template, which can be watched by the owner of the PodIntent resource. The field .status.appliedConventions is populated with the names of any applied conventions.

The following is an example of a PodConventionContext response with the .status field populated.

apiVersion: webhooks.conventions.apps.tanzu.vmware.com/v1alpha1
kind: PodConventionContext
  name: sample # the name of the ClusterPodConvention
spec: # the request
status: # the response
  appliedConventions: # list of names of conventions applied
  - my-convention
      - name : workload
        image: helloworld-go-mod

Chaining Multiple Conventions

Platform operators can define multiple ClusterPodConventions that can be applied to different types of workloads. It is also possible for multiple conventions to apply to a workload.

The PodIntent reconciler lists all ClusterPodConvention resources and applies them serially. To ensure the consistency of enriched podTemplateSpec, the list of ClusterPodConventions is sorted alphabetically by name before applying conventions. If desired, strategic naming can be used to control the order in which the conventions are applied.

After the conventions are applied, the Ready status condition on the PodIntent resource is used to indicate whether it is applied successfully or not. A list of all applied conventions is stored under the annotation conventions.apps.tanzu.vmware.com/applied-conventions.

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