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DevOps / Kubernetes

Kubernetes Maturity Model: Your Expected Business Outcomes

Adopting Kubernetes should have a direct line of impact to your business objectives. In each phase, there are business results you should expect.
May 12th, 2021 6:58am by
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Danielle Cook
Danielle is the vice president of marketing at Fairwinds.

No one’s moving to Kubernetes just because they like the name or because everyone’s doing it. Rather, organizations adopt Kubernetes anticipating business advantages, including outcomes like cost savings over time, improved performance and increased security.

There are many different ways to realize these efficiency, reliability and security benefits. For example, your team may ship features faster or waste less money on over-provisioned resources — both of those are efficiency benefits. When you can scale more easily based on demand for your app, you won’t experience downtime,  thus increasing reliability. Increased security comes when you maintain visibility across your teams and clusters to identify and remediate Kubernetes security risks.

To help organizations understand the processes and phases involved in adopting Kubernetes, the site reliability engineers at Fairwinds used their experience to create a Kubernetes Maturity Model. Broken into seven phases, each phase outlines what to expect from the beginning of your Kubernetes journey through to optimization. Adopting Kubernetes should have a direct line of impact to your business objectives. In each phase of the maturity model, there are business results you should expect.

Phase 1: Prepare

In phase one, you’re unlikely to see many specific business outcomes, but that doesn’t mean you can skip it. This preparation phase must include alignment on your business goals and how Kubernetes helps you achieve them. It’s vital to pair your technical plan with business and leadership buy-in and have clearly defined success measurement in place. Some examples include:

Business Goal How Kubernetes Helps
Scale to 1 million users Provides flexible, scalable infrastructure based on the number of users.
Provide exceptional customer experience Ensures the app is reliable and responsive to meet end user expectations.
Deliver features faster Enables building apps using a microservices approach.

Uses APIs to minimize cross-team communication required to build and deploy.

Phase 2: Transform

This phase of Kubernetes maturity primarily focuses on technical transformation. Your technology team already completed a successful proof of concept (POC), so you have initial ideas about how Kubernetes can improve your app.

Business Goal How Kubernetes Helps
Kubernetes POC Initial findings indicate cost savings, faster time to market and improved reliability.

Phase 3: Deploy

Once your development team deploys one application to a production environment, business outcomes become more visible. Use documented business goals to track your Kubernetes progress, but don’t expect them all on day one. Examine business outcomes and explain them to business stakeholders, including engineering leadership, application owners, the CEO and the board of directors. Without alignment through these discussions, maturing your Kubernetes deployment through next phases is unlikely to be appreciated or understood.

Business Goal How Kubernetes Helps
Reduce spend on app infrastructure Improves resource utilization.
Reduce app infrastructure focus Enables fast failover.
Increase security Reduces DDoS impact with limits, role-based access control, Kubernetes secrets and encryption.
Improve compliance Restricts and tracks app access.
Ship features faster Enables rolling updates via CI/CD pipeline integration.

Phase 4: Build Confidence

Building confidence in Kubernetes at your organization requires experience. In this stage, try new add-ons to improve security, efficiency and reliability. You’ll revisit some decisions made when you first rolled Kubernetes out to improve outcomes. You’re also ready to implement monitoring during phase four, helping your business get reports on what’s working and what’s not. Monitoring provides insights into:

  • Resource utilization
  • Performance

If you’re uncertain whether your Kubernetes infrastructure is production-grade, consider a Kubernetes audit to check achievements against business goals.

Business Goal How Kubernetes Helps
Evaluate resource utilization and performance Enables monitoring that tracks to business goals.

Phase 5: Improve Operations

Expect to make significant gains in security, efficiency and reliability during phase five. So far, your teams have focused on learning and gaining confidence in using Kubernetes. Now take that knowledge and apply it to your business goals.

Business Goal How Kubernetes Helps
Increase security Enables controls around container configuration (root), privileges and more.
Improve efficiency Measures CPU and memory usage.
Maximize reliability Allows readiness probes and replication through cluster configurations.

Phase 6: Measure & Control

In phase six you can measure more of what you’ve put in place, which helps you demonstrate business outcomes. Expect to see:

  • Established protocols and procedures in Kubernetes.
  • Enforced compliance standards through policies.
  • Comparison between apps built on Kubernetes vs. not.

Because you can measure more, you have increased reporting on compliance, security, performance, and cost. A single dashboard view of your clusters helps both technical and business leadership see progress.

Business Goal How Kubernetes Helps
Increase reporting against metrics Offers many open source and third-party tools for reporting.
Compare apps built on K8S vs. not Demonstrates value and shows which apps will benefit from K8s migration.

Phase 7: Optimize & Automate

In this final phase of maturity model, you’ve probably achieved the desired business outcomes, because the previous phases provided measurable results to share with your leadership teams. You’re not done, though. During phase seven, you’ll optimize Kubernetes workloads against more advanced cost and performance metrics. That’s an ongoing process.

Kubernetes best practices are to automate as much as possible to avoid security and performance problems due to human error. This automation includes implementing policy enforcement against your cluster configurations. Mature Kubernetes users already know that misconfigurations can cause organizations to miss business goals and put them at risk for security breaches, scaling issues and significant cost overruns.

Business Goal How Kubernetes Helps
Achieve business goals Provides demonstrable results.
Automate Reduces human error.
Optimize Enables continuous improvement.

Kubernetes Maturity Model

Use the Kubernetes Maturity Model to measure your technical and business outcomes. Remember, this model is a way for your organization to measure where it is in the process of adopting Kubernetes. This is a transformative process that will take time, so enjoy learning new best practices and technologies as the Kubernetes ecosystem continues to grow.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma.
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