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Six Key Ways for Reining in Kubernetes Chaos as You Scale

Tips to manage a fleet of increasingly complex Kubernetes clusters, get the most out of them and position IT organizations for success.
Jul 7th, 2022 6:32am by
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As Kubernetes continues to grow in popularity as an IT strategy of choice for many organizations, companies are faced with increasing complexities to keep up with customer demands, diverse applications and scaling compliance requirements.

Cliff Malmborg
Cliff  is senior product marketing manager at Rafay Systems, a dynamic product marketing leader with more than 15 years of experience. He is passionate about telling stories and bringing complex products to life.

As these organizations increase the number of clusters in their Kubernetes fleet to stay ahead of needs, they are then presented with the challenge of managing this growth.

With clusters spread across on-premises, cloud and edge locations, and with different configurations and tools, you can see how organizations are left wondering how to scale while remaining in control of the chaos.

In this article, we will discuss some of the key ways to manage a fleet of increasingly complex Kubernetes clusters, get the most out of them and position their IT organizations for meaningful, sustained success.

Key 1: Embrace Hybrid and Multicloud

With more and more companies embracing remote work, hybrid and multicloud have seen a rapid increase in popularity. Kubernetes itself is a highly portable option, which means you can use the cloud for workload deployment while also improving both customer and employee experiences. This means delivering applications with lower latency and improved performance.

With that said, leveraging hybrid or multicloud may deliver better results for your Kubernetes, but it can also mean increased K8s complexity. For that reason, it is important to use the right tools to enable you to operate across multiple clouds or data centers while maintaining standardization.

Key 2: Focus on Automation

Many organizations start out on their Kubernetes journey and are amazed at how simple it is to manage and maintain a few clusters. But as your business grows, it can get much more complex quite quickly. For that reason, it is important to take advantage of automation opportunities anywhere you can. From automating common cluster or application operations, or standardizing and automating tests — anywhere you can reduce the manual workload to scale your K8s, the better.

One of the most popular ways of achieving this is through GitOps. GitOps combines git tools, which many developers are already familiar with, with infrastructure management and continuous deployment. In fact, in the 2021 AWS Container Security survey, 64.5% of those surveyed said they use GitOps — and this number will only continue to grow.

The beauty of GitOps is that when changes are made to a Git repository, that code is pushed to the production environment, making deployments faster and more reliable. But GitOps is not the only option. Open Policy Agent — or OPA — is a general-purpose policy engine that helps enforce policies across a whole slew of Kubernetes-related items (like microservices, CI/CD pipelines, API and more). This is a great way to build policy-based management into your Kubernetes.

Key 3: Make Security a Priority

We all know that in 2022, security is not just “nice to have” but mission-critical. For Kubernetes, it is important to ensure that security is truly a priority and that your most important clusters and applications should have top-tier security and control. One common recommendation is to deploy zero trust principles to secure Kubernetes — in fact, K8s is built in a way that easily supports zero trust.

Key 4: Maintain Visibility through Monitoring

What you don’t know can hurt you, especially when it comes to Kubernetes. Like other facets of K8s, monitoring becomes more difficult as your organization scales and grows in complexity, as keeping tabs on many clusters, applications and configs is not necessarily an easy task. At the same time, maintaining visibility is essential — so what is an IT organization to do?

A common best practice is to keep a base level of monitoring through centralized logging and create alerts and visualizations for your most important items. This is commonly achieved using Prometheus and Grafana.

For companies that are less interested in building their own monitoring platforms with these open source tools, there are many SaaS options on the market that help do the hard work for you and can centralize your monitoring, even across diverse configs and applications.

Key 5: Take Advantage of SaaS

Using Kubernetes can mean managing a lot of moving parts and complexity. Building out a team that can handle all the ins and outs of your K8s environment can be a significant (and perhaps unsustainable) investment, both in terms of skills and time. To help alleviate this pressure, we recommend turning to services whenever possible.

One common area where services shine for K8s is managed Kubernetes. Many public cloud providers like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud have managed Kubernetes offerings that can help organizations scale and manage complexity. There are also a growing number of SaaS tools available to help companies deal with K8s management, monitoring, security and more.

Key 6: You Do Not Need to Go It Alone

Many organizations, particularly when they are first getting started with Kubernetes, try to bootstrap their way with K8s. This means building your own infrastructure, compiling upstream code and even developing your own tools. But the Kubernetes of the past are not the Kubernetes of today, and there are many tools and services on the market to make K8s easier. By partnering with the right companies, you can simplify your operations, increase your productivity, and spend more time innovating and less time management K8s. Why should Kubernetes be any harder than it needs to be?

Take the Complications Out of Complexity

Like many things, Kubernetes gets more complex as you grow. But by focusing on the key ways above — and considering them early in your Kubernetes journey — you can set up your organization for success, both in the near and long term. With a helping of foresight and by working with the right partners, Kubernetes can help you deliver outstanding results, even as your organization scales and changes.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma.
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