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7 Building Blocks for a Successful Internal Developer Platform for Kubernetes

As organizations continue to adopt Kubernetes for container orchestration, the need for a robust internal developer platform has become increasingly important. According to Gartner, eighty percent of software engineering organizations will establish platform teams that provide reusable services, components, and tools for application delivery. These platform teams will seek to build an internal developer platform (IDP) for Kubernetes to make it easier for development teams to self-service and build and deliver software faster. 

Kubernetes is the de-facto standard for container orchestration today, and adoption is only growing. That means that your internal developer platform must support Kubernetes and integrate well with the larger cloud native computing community — and be flexible so that new services and capabilities can be added and integrated as needed. At the same time, platform engineers don’t want or need all of the developers in their organization to become Kubernetes experts, thus they need to put Kubernetes governance in place to make it easier for developers to follow development best practices. 

There are seven building blocks platform engineers need to consider as they build a successful IDP for Kubernetes. This isn’t an exhaustive list — there are many other capabilities an IDP can provide, and of course each organization will have unique needs and context that need to be met. Let’s take a look at the building blocks that most IDPs need. 

1) Support for Diverse Deployments

Ensure that your IDP supports your deployment model. Every organization is unique, so making sure your developers can deploy applications in an on–prem environment, in hybrid environments, and across multiple cloud providers is essential. This provides the flexibility to choose the best deployment model and cloud provider for each application and for your unique business needs.

2) Infrastructure as Code

Infrastructure as code (IaC) is an essential component of modern software development. An IDP must support IaC tools such as Terraform, AWS CloudFormation, and Ansible, to enable developers to define and manage infrastructure using code.

3) CI/CD Pipelines 

Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines are critical for enabling rapid application development and deployment. An internal developer platform must support CI/CD pipelines, such as CircleCI, Jenkins, or GitLab, to provide a streamlined and automated deployment process. Most importantly, your IDP must support the tools that your developers already use and like. 

4) Security and Compliance

Security and compliance are critical to consider in every software development process. In Kubernetes, it’s particularly important because Kubernetes is not secure by default, and the complexities of the platform can result in new blindspots for security teams. It’s important to run security validation checks from development through to production to identify misconfigurations and vulnerabilities. An IDP can help you prioritize security risks based on severity and category as well, particularly if it can create incidents or messages in common developer tools, such as PagerDuty and Slack. The internal developer platform must include built-in security and compliance features, such as secure network segmentation, access control, and audit logging.

5) Observability

Observability is essential for ensuring the reliability and availability of applications running in Kubernetes. It’s important to have insight into what is occurring across applications, services, and systems in order for teams to react quickly based on real-time information. An internal developer platform must provide observability tools, such as Prometheus and Datadog, to enable developers to monitor and troubleshoot their applications.

6) Self-Service

The goal of an IDP is to provide developers with a self-service experience. In Kubernetes, that includes the management of K8s resources, scheduling, upgrades, and role-based access control as well as simplifying the process for making decisions about Kubernetes, such as how to manage bug fixes, feature requests, security issues. It should also include automated deployment workflows, pre-built templates, and easy-to-use dashboards to make it easier to gain visibility into how cost efficient, reliable, and secure their applications and services are.

7) Kubernetes Governance 

Governance plays a critical role in building an internal developer platform for Kubernetes. Kubernetes governance is the set of policies, processes, and procedures that define how an organization operates and how decisions are made. In an IDP, governance ensures that the platform team can implement standardization based on your organization's business objectives. It enables the platform team to avoid becoming a help desk while enabling compliance with relevant regulations and standards.

Implementing governance or Kubernetes guardrails is critical to building multiple aspects of an internal developer platform including:

  • Security and Compliance: Ensures the internal developer platform meets security and compliance requirements, including defining access control policies, enforcing data privacy rules, and adhering to industry standards and regulations.

  • Resource Allocation: Ensures that resources, such as CPU, memory, and storage, are allocated efficiently and effectively across the platform. This includes defining resource, CPU, and memory requests and limits.

  • Performance and Availability: Defines service level agreements (SLAs) and addresses performance and availability issues.

  • Cost Management: Defines cost control policies, requires resource usage optimization, and enables cost monitoring.

To build a successful internal developer platform for Kubernetes, you need to build on a solid foundation. Platform engineers must design, implement, and maintain the platform, as well as collaborate with developers to ensure that the platform meets their needs. Proper planning, testing, and documentation are also critical to building a successful IDP for Kubernetes. In addition, it’s important to continue to monitor and optimize the platform to make certain that it continues to meet the evolving needs of developers and the organization as a whole.

Fairwinds Insights is for platform engineers to enable developers on Kubernetes. It ensures internal developer platforms include policy, compliance, security and efficiency.

See how Fairwinds Insights reduces your Kubernetes risk!