According to the study carried out by the CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) in 2020, the adoption of Kubernetes has grown from 78% to 83% last year, representing a 300% increase in the use of containerization since 2016. Gartner, in fact, estimates that by 2022, more than 75% of organizations worldwide will make use of containerized applications in production, a much higher percentage than the current 30%.
Therefore, an application scenario is anticipated in which the adoption and use of Kubernetes will be increasingly more widespread, all thanks to a series of benefits. These include the automated management of containers in hybrid and multi-cloud environments, optimization of the underlying hardware resources and the ability to quickly scale applications up or down.
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However, in order to avoid eventual inefficiencies, opting for the open source orchestrator requires specific expertise and a structured implementation path. In this article we will examine 3 common mistakes that you might run into when adopting Kubernetes.
Error 1: Not being prepared on the CI/CD pipelines
According to the DevOps approach, Continuous Integration (CI) is a method that makes it possible to integrate into a build and very frequently test source code changes made by different teams. The aim is to identify and correct errors in a timely manner, through a quick feedback loop.
On the other hand, continuous Delivery (CD) enables the acceleration of the release of code that has passed the CI process and subsequent verification, within a central repository, building production-ready elements. Continuous Deployment is the final step of the process, as it automates the deployment of apps into production, making use of the repository’s validated codebase.
In short, the CI/CD pipeline is a process that enables the development team to accelerate the modification, testing and release of the software, but requires specific skills to ensure correct execution and control. Fortunately, many tools are available that help teams in this regard. Some of the most popular ones include: Github Actions, GitLab, Jenkins, Travis, Helm and CircleCI.
Kubernetes makes it possible to automate container management, freeing DevOps teams from executing some of the most common repetitive and manual error-prone orchestration tasks. Of course, complexity is the flip side of containerized environments and Kubernetes automation takes away the DevOps teams’ visibility into processes. Without specialized knowledge of CI/CD processes and implementation of an effective pipeline, it can become quite difficult to manually intervene with application updates and hotfixes.
When implementing Kubernetes, the first major mistake is, therefore, attributable to poor preparation along the CI/CD pipelines.
Error 2: Not considering security-related aspects
The second mistake, on the other hand, concerns underestimating security-related issues. Today, Kubernetes environments tend to run multiple applications – many even mission-critical – and the trend is growing. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to protect applications by implementing a future-proof strategy, which takes into account several key aspects.
A common mistake is to overlook configuring role-based access control (RBAC), a feature that makes it possible to define resource usage policies within Kubernetes environments, making them available to specific users and only if strictly necessary.
Another mistake is not adequately protecting the underlying infrastructure. Kubernetes is designed to dynamically distribute the containers on the cluster nodes, dealing only with allocating pods to nodes as long as there are resources available and does not provide security tools for the hardware that hosts the applications.
Moreover, Kubernetes does not include functionality for securing the application runtimes running in the Pods, so it is important to pay close attention to any security flaws that could then escalate all the way to the host. In order to partially overcome these problems, it is possible to rely on the Network Policies API, implementing OPA policies at the application level.
In case you decide to outsource the implementation, management and maintenance of Kubernetes clusters to third parties, as part of a Managed Services offering, don’t make the mistake of not evaluating the security guarantees provided, or neglecting the protection of the nodes (the virtual or physical machines that make up the clusters) and of the master system that controls them.
Error 3: Not carrying out a proper cost analysis
Automation has always been seen as a tool that helps improve operational efficiency and thus cuts costs. However, when tackling a Kubernetes adoption project, attention must also be paid to the subsequent maintenance costs. The orchestration platform is, in fact, capable of hiding a great deal of complexity, technical details and application management operations. Still, it does not actually eliminate the need for updating, monitoring and provisioning of the nodes, tasks that remain in the hands of the IT team.
Therefore, the Kubernetes infrastructure requires constant maintenance, which usually falls under the responsibility of the Operations team, with a surplus of work.
Moreover, migrating to Kubernetes often means going through an application modernization process. In some cases, legacy applications can in fact be incorporated into containers and used on the Cloud without the need to make major changes. However, in other situations modernization is required through the adoption of the latest development techniques in order to ensure optimal application performance in the new environments. Obviously, this process requires a certain amount of time, resources and additional investments.
Several useful tools are available to help monitor costs, including:
To summarize, Kubernetes is a powerful tool in terms of efficiency and savings, as it automates and optimizes the management of containers in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. However, its implementation, configuration and maintenance are not always easy and require specific skills and expertise.
Our main piece of advice is to carefully evaluate all the collateral aspects that revolve around the adoption of Kubernetes. First, you must have a clear understanding of DevOps practices so that the CI/CD pipeline is favored through the automated orchestration offered by Kubernetes, rather than compromised.
Moreover, you should always keep a firm grip on the infrastructure that powers the applications, ensuring that all the various security aspects that Kubernetes leaves uncovered are dealt with. A careful and timely configuration of the platform's functionality can, indeed, represent an excellent starting point.
Finally, before starting with the adoption, you must ensure that you have a clear picture of the Total Cost of Ownership, which takes into account the maintenance costs of the Kubernetes infrastructure and any eventual application modernization that may be needed. It may actually be a good idea to start with small deployments on a limited number of applications to evaluate the actual benefits of Kubernetes for your business.
Relying on an experienced partner is, of course, always a valid starting tip, allowing you to obtain maximum returns and reduce complications during the migration to Kubernetes.
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