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Why Kubernetes Policy Enforcement

Once you’ve overcome the hurdle of deploying Kubernetes, migrating and/or launching your app, now you have to manage Kubernetes. This is no small problem itself. With a sprawl of clusters, piles of users and even multiple departments within an organization, how do you ensure your policies are followed? 

We all know that to be compliant with any industry regulations and organizational guidelines, we cannot simply write the policy and leave it up to individuals. Policy enforcement is already the norm for security and network access for example. It must become the norm for Kubernetes as well. 

Who Owns Kubernetes Policy Enforcement?

Unfortunately there is a gap between dev teams and ops teams managing Kubernetes. Ops teams need to create policies to maintain standards and compliance. Dev teams must have the freedom to develop new features and functionality and make updates. The two areas are often at odds with each other. Kubernetes policy enforcement can bridge this gap. Software can help by allowing ops teams to establish Kubernetes policies, set rules and then automate and enforce these. If applied throughout the CI/CD pipeline and into production, devs can avoid problems in production and own their services at every stage of the life cycle. Ops teams can gain visibility into what is actually happening and adjust policies based on their dev teams. 

What is Kubernetes Policy Enforcement?

Kubernetes policy enforcement is the ability to automate, monitor, and enforce guardrails and best practices around security and compute resources. More specifically, it allows you to gain visibility into multiple clusters, and check that new and existing clusters comply with policy so that your team isn’t introducing security vulnerabilities or wasting money on over provisioned resources. It takes policy enforcement to ensure cluster consistency.

When to Apply Kubernetes Policy Enforcement?

When new to Kubernetes, it is completely normal to stop at “just getting it running”. But often stopping there doesn’t factor in the settings required to stay secure. As part of preparing for Kubernetes adoption, consider applying policies. As you and your team journey through Kubernetes maturity, you’ll want to include policy enforcement in your CI/CD pipeline. Doing so means you won’t introduce problems in production. 

Why Kubernetes Policy Enforcement?

Kubernetes policy enforcement is insurance that Kubernetes is done right. Without it, there are a number of problems. 

  1. Lack of visibility and consistent enforcement of best practices across multiple clusters and dev teams causes delays in scaling for production. Without this visibility, Ops teams cannot pinpoint errors that lead to security and compliance events, downtime, and spending too much on compute resources.

  2. Kubernetes is not secure by default, requiring teams to monitor and patch security vulnerabilities in infrastructure and applications. Unmanaged security vulnerabilities in applications and Kubernetes infrastructure can lead to attackers accessing sensitive data and resources. Organizations may inadvertently expose themselves to compliance violations without a process for monitoring Kubernetes security - potentially damaging customer trust, brand, and incurring financial penalties.

  3. A key benefit of Kubernetes is scalability, however, developers often neglect to set resource requirements correctly. This can introduce reliability issues, consume data center capacity, and often waste ridiculous amounts of money.

  4. If organizations neglect to establish internal standards for Kubernetes configurations, or find themselves making frequent updates to these guidelines, configuration drift occurs causing unnecessary tech debt and complexity. This increases the cost of upgrades and patching, leaving organizations exposed to security vulnerabilities longer and impacting time-to-market.

  5. Developers are familiar with software that inspects code, but current tools lack contextual recommendations for Kubernetes. Developers often neglect to follow best practices because the alternative is to waste time through trial-and-error (e.g., setting CPU and memory requests and limits). Without actionable recommendations, developers default to propagating configuration mistakes leading to over-provisioning and security over-permissioning. Policy enforcement can help monitor usage so best practices can be applied.

How to Enforce Kubernetes Policies?

Fairwinds Insights is configuration validation software that automates, monitors and enforces Kubernetes best practices. It provides out-of-the-box, pre-built integrations for multiple Kubernetes tools that address configuration errors for security, workload efficiency, and reliability in a single platform. The centralized, multi-cluster dashboard aggregates and enhances findings to enable seamless prioritization and remediation.

You can use Fairwinds Insights for free, forever. Get it here.

Fairwinds Insights provides continuous security auditing for both containers and Kubernetes configurations at every point in the development lifecycle - during CI/CD, at the time of admission, and in production. It adds historical usage data and cost impact estimates to provide precise, pod-level CPU and memory recommendations. With Insights, you get pre-built policies and an intuitive user interface to save time and reduce complexity when applying guardrails across multiple clusters in your organization.

Fairwinds Insights is free to try. You can also check out our getting started overview that provides more information on what you’ll see from action items. 

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