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8 Advanced Strategies to Help You Optimize Kubernetes Reliability

If you’ve covered all the basics of improving reliability for your Kubernetes apps and services, you might be wondering what else you can do to make it even better. Based on my experience at Fairwinds and as a site reliability engineer and IT administrator, I have some more advanced strategies you may want to explore for optimizing reliability. (If you’re not there yet, check out my post about building a strong reliability foundation.)

1. Service Meshes (such as Istio and Linkerd)

A service mesh is a dedicated infrastructure layer that is intended to handle service-to-service communication. It's responsible for reliable request delivery, service discovery, security, observability, and more. Istio and Linkerd offer these capabilities, helping to manage the complexity of distributed systems, which can help you increase reliability.

2. Chaos Engineering

While it might sound counter-intuitive, intentionally introducing failures into your systems can (actually) improve reliability. This practice, known as chaos engineering, tests the resilience of your applications and infrastructure, helping you to identify weak points and improve them.

3. GitOps

GitOps is a way to manage cloud-native systems powered by Kubernetes using an operations by pull request approach to define and manage networking, infrastructure, application code, and the GitOps pipeline. Using Git as the single source of truth for declarative infrastructure and applications, GitOps enables you to automate deployments and rollbacks, which can increase both the speed and reliability of your deployments.

4. Continuous Observability

Continuous observability extends traditional monitoring to provide more in-depth, real-time insights into your running systems. By analyzing metrics, logs, and traces continuously, you can proactively identify and address potential issues before they can impact reliability.

5. Policy-as-Code

Policy-as-Code is a strategy that organizations can use to manage and provision policy enforcement tooling through machine-readable definition files. The Open Policy Agent (OPA) is a general-purpose policy engine where you can define and enforce policies across Kubernetes. Polaris is an open source policy engine built by Fairwinds for Kubernetes. It validates and remediates Kubernetes resources to ensure compliance with configuration best practices. Fairwinds Insights includes a lot of Kubernetes policy-as-code out of the box, leveraging best-in-class open source tooling across Kubernetes best practices in security, efficiency, and reliability  — as well as support for Open Policy Agent and Polaris for enforcing custom policies in CI/CD and at admission.

6. Multi-cluster Management

As your workloads grow, you might need to span your applications across multiple Kubernetes clusters or across different cloud providers. Multiple cluster management means reducing redundant efforts and operational overhead. In an enterprise environment, it’s important to be able to view, manage, and consolidate information so you can optimize resources appropriately and handle issues quickly, eliminating configuration drift. 

7. Secure the Software Supply Chain

The reliability of your applications is only as good as the security of your software supply chain. Using Fairwinds Insights, you can scan multi-cluster environments and run security validation checks from development through production. This can help you prevent vulnerabilities and misconfigurations from being deployed into production environments as well as identify CVEs in running containers. 

8. Cost Optimization

Cost optimization is a critical aspect of a sustainable Kubernetes strategy. By using Kubernetes cost optimization techniques, including right-sizing your pods and nodes, using spot instances, and implementing cluster auto-scaling, you can ensure your applications run reliably without unnecessary cloud spend.

Achieving Advanced Reliability Configuration in Kubernetes

Kubernetes offers many advanced reliability configuration options, in part because the open source community continues to bring new offerings to help advance cloud native computing. 

Together, we are empowering organizations to build resilient, secure, and cost-effective applications and services, ensuring high availability, fault tolerance, and efficient resource utilization. 

Read this whitepaper to learn how to identify security and reliability misconfigurations in Kubernetes.