Wikimedia Case Study

Using Kubernetes to Build Tools to Improve the World's Wikis

The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation operates some of the largest collaboratively edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia. To help users maintain and use wikis, it runs Wikimedia Tool Labs, a hosting environment for community developers working on tools and bots to help editors and other volunteers do their work, including reducing vandalism. The community around Wikimedia Tool Labs began forming nearly 10 years ago.


"Wikimedia Tool Labs is vital for making sure wikis all around the world work as well as they possibly can. Because it's grown organically for almost 10 years, it has become an extremely challenging environment and difficult to maintain. It's like a big ball of mud — you really can't see through it. With Kubernetes, we're simplifying the environment and making it easier for developers to build the tools that make wikis run better."

— Yuvi Panda, operations engineer at Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Tool Labs


  • Simplify a complex, difficult-to-manage infrastructure
  • Allow developers to continue writing tools and bots using existing techniques

Why Kubernetes:

  • Wikimedia Tool Labs chose Kubernetes because it can mimic existing workflows, while reducing complexity


  • Migrate old systems and a complex infrastructure to Kubernetes


  • 20 percent of web tools that account for more than 40 percent of web traffic now run on Kubernetes
  • A 25-node cluster that keeps up with each new Kubernetes release
  • Thousands of lines of old code have been deleted, thanks to Kubernetes

Using Kubernetes to provide tools for maintaining wikis

Wikimedia Tool Labs is run by a staff of four-and-a-half paid employees and two volunteers. The infrastructure didn't make it easy or intuitive for developers to build bots and other tools to make wikis work more easily. Yuvi says, "It's incredibly chaotic. We have lots of Perl and Bash duct tape on top of it. Everything is super fragile."

To solve the problem, Wikimedia Tool Labs migrated parts of its infrastructure to Kubernetes, in preparation for eventually moving its entire system. Yuvi said Kubernetes greatly simplifies maintenance. The goal is to allow developers creating bots and other tools to use whatever development methods they want, but make it easier for the Wikimedia Tool Labs to maintain the required infrastructure for hosting and sharing them.

"With Kubernetes, I've been able to remove a lot of our custom-made code, which makes everything easier to maintain. Our users' code also runs in a more stable way than previously," says Yuvi.

Simplifying infrastructure and keeping wikis running better

Wikimedia Tool Labs has seen great success with the initial Kubernetes deployment. Old code is being simplified and eliminated, contributing developers don't have to change the way they write their tools and bots, and those tools and bots run in a more stable fashion than they have in the past. The paid staff and volunteers are able to better keep up with fixing issues.

In the future, with a more complete migration to Kubernetes, Wikimedia Tool Labs expects to make it even easier to host and maintain the bots and tools that help run wikis across the world. The tool labs already host approximately 1,300 tools and bots from 800 volunteers, with many more being submitted every day. Twenty percent of the tool labs' web tools that account for more than 60 percent of web traffic now run on Kubernetes. The tool labs has a 25-node cluster that keeps up with each new Kubernetes release. Many existing web tools are migrating to Kubernetes.

"Our goal is to make sure that people all over the world can share knowledge as easily as possible. Kubernetes helps with that, by making it easier for wikis everywhere to have the tools they need to thrive," says Yuvi.