Managing Kubernetes Complexity in Multicloud Environments
Kubernetes has become the ubiquitous choice as the container orchestration platform for building and deploying cloud native applications. As enterprises adopt Kubernetes, one of the key decisions they have to make is around adopting a multicloud strategy. It’s essential to understand the factors driving the need for a solution across public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) , Azure, GCP, Oracle, Alibaba, etc., and validate whether those factors are relevant currently or in the future. Some factors that influence multicloud strategy are:
- Specialized cloud technology needs/requirements for particular applications
- Multiple business units adopting separate clouds
- GDPR and other locality considerations
- Disaster recovery
- Mergers and acquisitions of other businesses that have adopted different clouds
- Dependency on a cloud-managed service
Specialized Cloud Technology Needs/Requirements for a Particular Application
Some applications require specialized cloud services only available on specific cloud platforms. For example, Google Big Table is a NoSQL database only available on Google Cloud. Similarly, Azure has specialized machine learning and AI services, such as Azure Cognitive Services.
In such scenarios, enterprises need to deploy their applications across multiple clouds to access the specialized services required for their applications. This approach can also help organizations optimize costs by choosing the most cost-effective cloud service for each application.
Multiple Business Units Adopting Separate Clouds
In large organizations, different business units may have unique requirements for their cloud services, leading to the adoption of separate cloud services. For example, one business unit may prefer Google Cloud for its machine learning capabilities, while another may prefer AWS for its breadth of services. As a result, the cloud environment becomes fragmented, and deploying applications across multiple clouds becomes complex.
GDPR and Other Locality Considerations
Regional regulations can also drive the need for a multicloud approach. For example, enterprises may need to store and process data in specific regions to comply with data residency regulations. For instance, Alibaba Cloud is China’s leading cloud provider and the preferred cloud in that region.
Deploying applications across multiple clouds in different regions can help enterprises meet their data residency and compliance requirements.
Implementing disaster recovery in the right manner is essential for enterprises, as downtime can lead to significant revenue loss and reputational damage. A multicloud approach can help enterprises ensure business continuity by deploying applications across multiple clouds. In such scenarios, primary applications can run in one cloud while secondary applications can run in another for disaster recovery.
This approach can also help enterprises optimize their costs by choosing the most cost-effective cloud service for disaster recovery.
Mergers and Acquisitions
When organizations merge, they may have different cloud environments that must be integrated. Similarly, when organizations acquire other companies, they may need to integrate the acquired company’s cloud environment with their existing cloud environment, hence the need for a multicloud approach.
Dependency on a Particular Cloud Service
Enterprises may need to deploy applications in a particular cloud due to the dependency on a specific service that a specific cloud provider only offers. For example, an organization may require managed Oracle for its databases or SAP HANA for its ERP systems. In this case, deploying the applications in the same cloud is necessary to be closer to the database. Platform and site reliability engineering (SRE) teams must now acquire skills to manage Kubernetes infrastructure on a new public cloud. Platform teams must thoroughly understand all their application team requirements to see whether any of their applications will fall into this category.
How to Manage Multicloud Kubernetes Operations with a Platform Approach
Enterprises may want to invest in a true Kubernetes operations platform if the multicloud deployment is a critical requirement now or in the future. A true Kubernetes operations platform helps enterprises develop standardized automation across clouds while leveraging public cloud Kubernetes distributions such as AWS EKS, Azure AKS, Google GKE, etc. On the other hand, deploying and managing Kubernetes infrastructure on multiple clouds without a Kubernetes operations platform requires a lot of manual effort and can lead to substantial operational costs, operational inconsistencies, project delays, etc.
- A Kubernetes operations platform can standardize the process for deploying and managing Kubernetes clusters across multiple clouds. Enterprises can use a unified interface to automate the deployment and management of Kubernetes clusters across multiple clouds. This automation helps improve consistency and reduce the risk of human error. It also reduces the need for specialized skills.
- Enterprises also need to maintain a unified security posture across clouds. In a multicloud environment, each cloud provider has its own security policies, which makes it hard for enterprises to implement standard security policies across the clouds. A Kubernetes operations platform can provide consistent security policies across clouds, enforcing governance and compliance uniformly.
- Consistent policy management and network security policies across clouds are critical for adopting multicloud Kubernetes deployments. A Kubernetes operations platform should provide standardized workflows for applying network security and Open Policy Agent (OPA) policies for Kubernetes clusters spanning clouds. Policies, including network policies, ingress and egress rules, can be defined in a centralized location and deployed to all Kubernetes clusters, ensuring consistency and reducing operational complexity.
- A true Kubernetes operations platform should provide a unified bimodal multitenancy (cluster and namespace) across clouds. This platform should allow multiple teams and applications to share the same Kubernetes clusters without affecting each other, providing better resource utilization and cost efficiency. Similarly, for teams, applications or environments that require dedicated clusters, the Kubernetes platform should offer cluster-as-a-service where the individual teams can create their clusters in a self-serve manner adhering to the security, governance and compliance set by the platform and SRE teams.
- Kubernetes access control, role-based access control (RBAC) and single sign-on (SSO) across all clouds are essential for a Kubernetes operations platform. However, access management becomes increasingly complex when deploying Kubernetes across multiple clouds. A unified access management solution can simplify the process and reduce the security risk.
- Finally, a single pane of administration offering visibility for the entire infrastructure spanning multiple clouds is essential for a Kubernetes operations platform. A single management plane can provide centralized visibility into Kubernetes clusters across multiple clouds, allowing enterprises to monitor, manage and troubleshoot their Kubernetes clusters more efficiently.
A multicloud strategy may be an important consideration for enterprises that are adopting a Kubernetes operations platform for managing their Kubernetes infrastructure. Enterprises should carefully look at all factors that influence a multicloud deployment and decide whether multicloud is required for their organization. A true multicloud Kubernetes operations platform should provide standardized automation, consistent security policies, unified Kubernetes bimodal multitenancy, access management and a single administration pane, offering visibility for the entire infrastructure spanning multiple clouds.