Migrating to Kubernetes is an important shift that offers organizations multiple benefits, such as improved scalability, agility, and resource utilization. However, like any major infrastructure change, this transition comes with complexities and risks. These include challenges related to security, resource management, compliance, operational consistency, and cost efficiency. So, what are the crucial aspects of Kubernetes migration? And how can platform engineers mitigate potential risks and set development teams up for long term success?
We get into more of the details below.
Kubernetes is powerful, but complex. It offers great flexibility, which means you can configure it exactly as desired. However, that means it’s easy to misconfigure as well. If you aren’t putting security guardrails in place, it can open the door to a variety of threats, including unauthorized access and data breaches. Security in Kubernetes is multi-faceted, involving network policies, Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), encryption settings, and more. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) continue to update the Kubernetes hardening guide to ensure a strong defense-in-depth approach.
Kubernetes promises efficient use of resources, but it needs to be managed correctly. The over-provisioning of resources or under-utilization can drive up costs unexpectedly. Without automated checks and standardized policies, it’s easy to see unreliable day-to-day operations, frequently because CPU and memory resource requests and limits are not properly set.
Whether your organization is in financial services, healthcare, the public sector, or another highly regulated industry, chances are you need to comply with industry-specific regulations, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) for financial data or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule for healthcare data. Ensuring Kubernetes configurations meet these compliance standards adds another layer of complexity.
Kubernetes configurations must remain consistent across different environments to avoid the risk of configuration drift. When you begin operating a large number of clusters that were deployed manually and configured inconsistently, discrepancies in your configurations across your containers and clusters is nearly inevitable. That makes it quite difficult to identify inconsistencies and correct them using manual processes, resulting in significant negative consequences.
As organizations migrate to Kubernetes and begin to deploy at scale, complexity inevitably increases. You’ll add more clusters, containers, teams, and clouds, and as you do, it becomes challenging to manage the resulting complexity. Governance enables platform teams to maintain control over this increasing complexity. In the context of Kubernetes, governance is primarily about managing the system so that it aligns with the business goals of the organization, the needs of the platform engineering and development teams, and meets security and compliance requirements.
If you set up Kubernetes governance at the beginning of your migration process, you can establish policies that everyone must follow when deploying to Kubernetes infrastructure. It makes it easy for dev teams to follow the same policies and feel comfortable knowing that they are doing things the right way.
When you’re in the process of a Kubernetes migration, guardrails offer teams the lines on the road and protective rails next to curves and cliffs that help keep your migration team on track. Staying on track helps you avoid potential hazards, of course, but how else can guardrails accelerate the migration process?
In these four ways, guardrails can help you accelerate your Kubernetes migration. You can prevent errors that frequently result in problems related to security, cost and cloud management, performance, and compliance. Instead of a slow, chaotic Kubernetes migration process, you can adopt Kubernetes in a controlled and efficient manner.
Migrating to Kubernetes offers many benefits but it doesn’t come without risks. By putting guardrails in place at the beginning, you can begin your migration using a unified framework for managing these risks and complexities. Make sure your guardrails include key aspects of Kubernetes, including security hardening, cost-optimization, compliance management, and configuration standardization. This will help your organization mitigate risks and set you up for long-term operational excellence.