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An Introduction to the Kubernetes Maturity Model - How to Use It

The Fairwinds team developed the Kubernetes Maturity Model over a year ago, and we continue to update and refine it to reflect the five stages you go through in your journey to Kubernetes maturity. If the Kubernetes Maturity Model is new to you, this is a helpful introduction and guide on how to use it.

Before you do anything, consider what a cloud native journey means to you and your organization. Kubernetes isn’t right for everyone, so make sure you understand where to start, who to trust, and how to prove value by embracing Kubernetes.

  1. Phase one of the maturity model is about transformation, such as setting up Kubernetes infrastructure and shifting workloads.
  2. Phase two covers the implement and deployment processes, setting up CI/CD, empowering your developers, and limited monitoring and observability.
  3. Phase three is all about building confidence in your Kubernetes core competencies, so you can regularly deploy and ship features successfully.
  4. Phase four covers improving your operations and control, specifically cluster security, efficiency, and reliability.
  5. Phase five is the last phase, and it’s really about control. This final phase is when you gain a deeper understanding of workloads using sophisticated monitoring to drive policies and controls.

Of course, any maturity model is a process, and you’re likely to move back and forth between phases, and some will take longer than others. Even once you’ve reached phase five, you’ll always be working on ongoing optimization, removing human error and effort, and improving reliability and efficiency.

So now that you understand the basics, how do you actually use the Kubernetes Maturity Model? In this post, we’ll just explore the first few phases to get you started. First, the model is intended to be used by anyone, whether you’re new to Kubernetes or you’re already an experienced user. Let’s look at an example.

Example 1:

You have two developers who have tried Kubernetes and want to deploy it across your engineering team. Start at the preparation phase, and use it as a checklist to ensure that you (and your organization) are on the same page on these key issues:

  • The problem Kubernetes is going to solve
  • The importance of open source software now and in the future
  • The project aligns with your business goals

Move to phase 1: Spend time outlining your business goals and getting organization-wide acceptance. Now you’re ready to start setting up your Kubernetes infrastructure and planning how you’re going to shift workloads. During this phase, you need to take a few critical steps to truly get started with your Kubernetes transformation:

  1. Prioritize your workloads — decide which workloads you want to start with. Don’t expect to migrate all of your workloads at once; you’ll want to plan a phased approach.
  2. Undertake a proof of concept (POC) with Kubernetes so you understand what’s involved and how to do that successfully. You may find it helpful to work with Kubernetes experts to make sure that you’re setting up your first clusters correctly, so they can meet the demands of your workloads.
  3. Undertake a technical transformation. This isn’t a small undertaking. You’ll need to do a deep dive into your existing stack and determine your technology requirements as you move to Kubernetes. You’ll also need to think about application containerization, your cloud and Kubernetes infrastructure, YAML or Helm charts, external dependencies, your Git workflow, your CI/CD pipeline, testing, and finally promoting your application to production.

The preparation step and moving to phase 1 are time consuming steps, and you’ll learn a lot as you go through them. Don’t rush; this learning phase and the technical transformation steps are critical to achieving your overall goals.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, which will outline phases two and three. We’ll cover phase four and five in a final post. Meanwhile, read all about the Kubernetes Maturity Model in our resources, or check out our new eBook to learn more.

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