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An Intro to Kubernetes Best Practices: Start Your K8s Right

There’s no single right way to achieve success with Kubernetes, but as the cloud native ecosystem continues to expand rapidly, many organizations beginning their Kubernetes journey are unsure which path to follow. Luckily, there’s more than one way to deploy K8s successfully — the main goal is to make sure that you understand Kubernetes best practices, so you can cover your bases and avoid common mistakes. There’s a reason for the adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you can avoid making a poor decision and paying for it in the future, why wouldn’t you?

What are your business needs and priorities?

So, how can you start your organization off on the right path? Choose the one that best addresses the needs and priorities of your business.

  • Are you in the finance or healthcare sector, where security is non-negotiable?
  • Do you have a team of data scientists or machine learning workloads, which require resource efficiency?
  • Can your applications and services tolerate downtime, or is 99.99% (or higher) reliability a priority?

Answering these questions (and many, many more) can help you decide how to implement Kubernetes, create processes, and clarify tasks and priorities as you get started. Once you’ve spent the time necessary to understand the bigger picture of how Kubernetes can enable your cloud native journey, you’re ready to start making choices and review the best practices available — and make the choices that are right for your organization.

Kubernetes Best Practices

The Fairwinds team has considerable K8s expertise, gained through years of experience deploying and tuning hundreds of production grade Kubernetes clusters. Our site reliability engineers have helped many companies ship cloud native applications faster, more cost effectively, and with less security risk. The Kubernetes website offers guidance for getting started with K8s, including considerations for large clusters, running in multiple zones, validating node setup, and PKI certificates and requirements. Our Kubernetes best practices guidance focuses on helping our clients adopt cloud native infrastructure securely, efficiently, and reliably.

5 Key Best Practices for Kubernetes

  1. Kubernetes security best practices: avoid missteps due to the misconception that K8s is secure by default. Although Kubernetes has native security controls, they aren’t enabled or configured by default. Organizations continue to be vulnerable to three common security threats: denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, exploitation of application code, and internal threats. Configure Kubernetes properly to plan for these and other threats.
  2. Kubernetes cost optimization best practices: Kubernetes is a dynamic system that adapts automatically to your workload’s resource utilization, allowing you to set specific resource requests and limits on your workloads. Setting these limits can prevent unnecessarily large bills from your cloud service provider.
  3. Kubernetes reliability best practices: achieving Kubernetes reliability is complex, and incorrect configurations can have a significant impact on how reliable your applications and services are. Cloud native methodologies provide an opportunity for you to adjust how application components communicate and scale, and maximize reliability.
  4. Kubernetes policy enforcement best practices: most organizations pilot Kubernetes with a single application, but managing cluster configurations becomes a challenge when adopting Kubernetes for multiple applications, development teams, and operations teams. Inconsistent configurations are hard to manage and modify, but automating policy enforcement minimizes inconsistencies.
  5. Monitoring and alerting best practices: K8s environments are always changing, and monitoring configuration is an afterthought. Optimizing monitoring and alerting in Kubernetes can save a lot of stress and time across your development, operations, and security teams.

There are hundreds of different use cases and transformations for Kubernetes, and there’s no single “right” way to deploy your clusters. There’s a lot of flexibility in Kubernetes, which ultimately means that there are probably no two identical K8s environments. We’re sharing the hard-won expertise from our team to help you start off on the right track, so you can take advantage of the long-term advantages of Kubernetes.

Read the Kubernetes Best Practices white paper to get comprehensive guidance on setting up your Kubernetes environment in the ways that are right for you and your organization.

Read the updated 2021 Kubernetes Best Practices white paper