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Is Kubernetes Service Ownership the Key to Better Container Security?

In the world of software development and Kubernetes, service ownership means development teams take responsibility for supporting the products they deliver, at every stage of the service life cycle. This model gives development teams greater control over how their software runs in production, and frees up operations teams to focus on core infrastructure instead of debugging and optimizing applications. 

One of the hottest conversations right now in Kubernetes revolves around the need for more comprehensive container security—and how this fundamental change can be facilitated through better overall service ownership. 

The Challenges of Container Security

Cloud native and Kubernetes service ownership helps development teams improve security by holding them accountable for security issues in both their application code and its configuration. Full-service ownership of Kubernetes clusters is what enables the shift left to address security issues earlier in the development process, something all teams should be looking to codify into regular practice. In other words, proper service ownership is what puts the “Sec” in DevSecOps, now considered the gold standard for software security. 

Many organizations face challenges when trying to adopt Kubernetes at scale, mostly because they lack the tools, processes and experience to properly launch secure container environments. This can be a real struggle. Because Kubernetes and containers present a new approach for deploying applications, operations and security teams question whether the applications and data will be secure when they adopt microservices, containers and Kubernetes to develop and deploy applications. 

Why? Because many traditional security tools and processes no longer apply. Containers create new security blind spots, along with new attack surfaces, making visibility across containers and clusters even more challenging. As such, developers must assume responsibility for some of the new security challenges, a role they’re unaccustomed to and reluctant to embrace. This is why organizations must learn to shift security “left” in the development process, giving them the view they need to address security problems. This approach sits at the heart of DevSecOps, where teams are tightly integrated, and helps businesses avoid five critical mistakes associated with Kubernetes ownership. 

Do you know the five mistakes you’re probably making?

The Service Ownership Solution

Kubernetes provides a framework to run distributed systems, built with microservices and containers to run the applications resiliently. That said, Kubernetes is complex, which means different teams need to own different layers of the stack. 

Take operations for example. Even with full service ownership in place, operations teams essentially own the Platform layer, otherwise known as the core infrastructure ensuring Kubernetes is available and ready to scale. Operations teams seeking success must have multi-cluster visibility and policy enforcement, which essentially allows them to drive actionable feedback to the development teams. 

Product and development teams also play a critical role in establishing a robust security posture in Kubernetes. For their success, service ownership has to be well established, so developers know exactly what security practices they’re responsible for.

Kubernetes service ownership may look a little different for infrastructure teams and application developers: infrastructure teams should focus mostly on the security of the core infrastructure, while crafting policies and compliance dashboards for application configuration; developers should focus on adhering to those policies as they construct their deployment configurations.

As a result, infrastructure and development teams require self-service tooling that allows them to communicate and collaborate. These observability tools are what enable them to diagnose and triage security, efficiency, and reliability issues. 

Download this complete guide to Kubernetes service ownership!

How Fairwinds Insights Enables 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 owns security and efficiency configurations in their applications, so it isn’t just an Ops problem.
  • Reliability — the service owners can configure Kubernetes policies using best practice guidelines, 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.

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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