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Everything You Need to Know About Kubernetes Ownership Right Now

Today, Kubernetes service ownership is an emerging way for software delivery and operations teams to have complete “ownership” over the services they support. In this model, ownership spans from software design and development to deployment in a production environment, and eventually to manage the sunsetting of the software. This shift in accountability produces dramatic improvements in the speed, reliability, cost and security of applications. 

That said, it’s not always clear what kinds of organizations require this level of organizational shift. As organizations grow, they often find pushing the delivery of applications and services through a gate of operations to be challenging, if not impossible. But as the value of the DevSecOps approach continues to grow, teams are now looking for ways to make this shift a reality within their workflows. As an enabler of DevSecOps, Kubernetes service ownership is what enables this fundamental change to take place. 

What do I need to know about Kubernetes service ownership?

It is important to understand where the configuration of your Kubernetes environment isn’t meeting industry standards and best practices. Take deployments for example. They may appear to work well without something as simple as liveness and readiness probes in place or without resource requests and limits set. But the truth is, ignoring these configuration settings is a recipe for disaster down the line. 

With regards to security, uncovering when a Kubernetes deployment is over-permissioned is challenging to say the least. In fact, many teams do over-permission containers and clusters, mostly because the simplest easy way to get something to work is to provide root access—which means full admin privileges. In this way, configuration can introduce significant security risk into the Kubernetes environment. 

On the other hand, when appropriate governance is in place, Kubernetes service ownership can help organizations ship code faster and with less risk, especially businesses with multiple teams and clusters. For a company running, say, 40 clusters, well-implemented service ownership can mean the difference between knowing who is responsible for patching a vulnerability and a security failure. This clear indication of ownership also ensures the right team or developer will check the cluster configuration and apply a patch when needed. Service ownership can help every development team find success in getting applications on Kubernetes successfully. 

Who needs this type of service ownership?

As valuable as the benefits of service ownership can be, it’s not necessarily the right model for every business. For example, small startups with only one application, one DevOps engineer, and one tiny development team likely won’t require service ownership. Typically, operations can still own all of the deployment configuration, regardless of whether they are running on Kubernetes or not. 

But as an organization grows, so too does the need for a model like service ownership. In businesses running dozens of clusters, it’s not uncommon for operations teams to manage the “ownership” of all deployment configurations for every single application. Here is where Kubernetes service ownership can offer real value, as it empowers developers to take ownership of the way their applications are configured away from one centralized team. Although this typically happens in larger organizations running a centralized Kubernetes platform, the model of effective ownership can apply to many business instances. In organizations where there are hundreds or even thousands of clusters it becomes nearly impossible to scale without some kind of service ownership in place. 

A less common scenario includes development teams gaining complete full-stack ownership. Although this normally happens with small teams, the companies themselves can be either large or small. In fact, 65% of companies use Kubernetes in production. And according to a recent 2021 study, those with over 500 developers are more likely (78%) to run all (or most) containerized workloads in production.

How can you enable Kubernetes service ownership?

Fairwinds Insights unifies development, security, and operations by simplifying complexity and enabling full service ownership. To help teams overcome cultural challenges and embrace service ownership, Insights facilitates:

  • Enablement — the Dev team can have visibility into appropriate security and efficiency configuration in their applications—it isn’t just an Ops problem because the dev teams now know what appropriate configuration looks like.
  • Reliability — the service owners can configure Kubernetes using best practice guidelines, even if they don’t know Kubernetes intimately, ensuring fast, reliable applications and avoiding downtime.
  • Continuous Improvements — the team can continuously improve how Kubernetes is used by integrating service ownership from CI/CD through production, broken deployments can actually be stopped from shipping through to production.

Fairwinds Insights provides DevOps teams with visibility into Kubernetes environments by providing a dashboard view of all clusters, helping teams understand misconfigurations that are causing security and compliance risks, and reducing the time required for vulnerability management through integrated vulnerability scanning. It also helps teams with some of the more challenging aspects of managing Kubernetes by identifying misconfigurations and vulnerabilities and assigning ownership to the person or team responsible for resolving those issues.

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