Exploring the New Kubernetes Maturity Model
Regardless of whether you’re just starting to explore Kubernetes or you already have experience deploying in Kubernetes, you know by now that it is complicated and will require new skills and an adjustment in the way you think about deploying applications.
Originally designed by Google and today maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), Kubernetes (also commonly called K8s) works with a range of container tools and runs containers in a cluster. Whichever tools you’re working with, learning and adopting Kubernetes and the related ecosystem takes time. So it’s helpful to have a set of best practices, like the Kubernetes Maturity Model.
The Kubernetes Maturity Model reviews the entire end-to-end journey, identifying each of the seven phases you go through, along with the skills and activities you need to learn in each as you move from getting started, all the way to learning how to enforce policies, improve reliability and maximize efficiency. Based on experience testing and managing hundreds of K8s production instances — with a focus on secure, reliable and scalable environments — a group of site reliability engineers (SREs) at Fairwinds built this model to help Kubernetes users. The goal is to help you self-identify which stage you are in, understand gaps in your environment and gain insights into enhancing and improving your Kubernetes stack.
Kubernetes Isn’t a One-Way Road
It’s important to remember that just because you have completed one or more phases of the model, that doesn’t mean you’ll never revisit them again. Also, keep in mind that Kubernetes maturity is a process. It doesn’t happen in one day or one week. Because the Kubernetes ecosystem continues to mature, you’ll continue to learn and share your experiences with others, whether that’s relevant to phase one or phase seven. Use the Kubernetes Maturity Model to help you understand where you need to focus your attention right now, when to ask for help and what your next steps are. This is your journey to cloud native, and while it might have some turbulence, you’ll find that your unique path will benefit you and your team.
Here’s a brief summary of each phase of the Kubernetes Maturity Model.
Kubernetes Maturity Model Phase 1: Prepare
During this phase, you’ll consider how cloud native and Kubernetes can help you drive your business and technical objectives, what it will cost to make this shift, and what you intend to achieve in your organization.
Kubernetes Maturity Model Phase 2: Transform
You’re getting started by setting up your Kubernetes infrastructure and learning how to shift workloads to the platform. Now is when you’re becoming familiar with Kubernetes terminology and getting comfortable with mapping existing technologies to a cloud native context.
Kubernetes Maturity Model Phase 3: Deploy
Prepared with a baseline understanding of Kubernetes concepts, you’re practicing fundamental concepts by exercising development, deployment, administrative and troubleshooting skills. You’ll also be implementing the build and deploy process via CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous deployment), empowering developers to self-service and introducing limited monitoring and observability.
Kubernetes Maturity Model Phase 4: Build Confidence
You’re in the middle of this maturity model, building confidence in your core competency to regularly deploy and ship features successfully. Your deeper understanding of Kubernetes is allowing you to customize, experiment and deploy across your organization, and to begin using monitoring tools to help you understand service challenges.
Kubernetes Maturity Model Phase 5: Improve Operations
Now you’re actively deploying Kubernetes across your business successfully. You’re working on improving security, efficiency and reliability by spending time with Kubernetes cluster configuration. Your challenges may be more complex, requiring Kubernetes expertise from outside your organization.
Kubernetes Maturity Model Phase 6: Measure & Control
You’re using sophisticated monitoring and alerting to provide a deeper understanding of your workloads. You’re asserting stronger opinions and stricter controls related to allowed behaviors, security, configuration and standards. You’re also exploring network policy, workload identity and service mesh to lock down workload ability.
Kubernetes Maturity Model Phase 7: Optimize & Automate
In this final phase, you’re employing sophisticated tooling that will help you remove human error and effort while improving reliability and maximizing efficiency. You’re enforcing compliance through policy-driven configuration validation of containers and Kubernetes.
Journey to Cloud Native
It’s important to remember that a maturity model doesn’t ensure improvement or change in your organization — it’s a way for your organization to measure where it is in the process of adopting Kubernetes. Remember, organizations adopting cloud native technologies are going through a transformative process that will take time and involve a lot of learning for your teams. Enjoy learning new best practices and technologies as Kubernetes continues to evolve.