One of the fundamental capabilities of Kubernetes is its ability to automatically launch new pods when additional capacity is needed and shut them down when loads decrease. This horizontal autoscaling is a useful feature, but it can only work if the nodes needed to host the pods already exist. While Cluster Autoscaler can do some rudimentary cluster expansion triggered by pod failures, it has limited flexibility; Karpenter, however, is an open-source Kubernetes Operator autoscaler with more smarts built in: it analyzes the current workloads and the pod scheduling constraints to automatically select an appropriate instance type and then start or stop it as needed. Karpenter is an operator in the spirit of tools like Crossplane that can provision cloud resources outside the cluster. Karpenter is an attractive companion to the autoscaling services cloud vendors provide natively with their managed Kubernetes clusters. For example, AWS now supports Karpenter as a first-class alternative in their EKS Cluster Autoscaler service.