Why Kubernetes Governance Is Critical To Cloud-Native

Ritesh Patel is Co-founder and VP of Product at Nirmata. He has 20+ years of experience building enterprise software solutions.

Kubernetes governance is an essential practice for enterprises to save themselves from potential bankruptcy following a data breach. It ensures the consistent delivery of business results while reducing risk, allowing businesses to move quickly. Also, with enforceable targets like security policies and policy management, businesses become production-ready at scale.

It ties into the growing adoption of cloud-native technologies throughout the pandemic, reflecting the improved agility that these technologies provide. When people think about cloud-native technologies, they think about Kubernetes, with the two elements working hand-in-hand to solve issues such as developer inefficiencies and slow-release cycles while also providing a more robust security structure.

There is a lot of business value in incorporating Kubernetes governance along your cloud-native journey.

Kubernetes governance is relevant to your cloud-native journey.

Kubernetes governance is vital for enterprises that want to be production-ready at scale.

As a CIO, you must establish Kubernetes governance, considering that most of your valuable assets—your applications—are running in Kubernetes. While cloud governance optimizes costs and security, it does not offer visibility into Kubernetes, with the tools and infrastructure being static.

Cloud-native processes, meanwhile, allow you to outpace disruption and enhance programmability. Unlike cloud governance, Kubernetes governance is continuous, giving stronger visibility into Kubernetes and the infrastructure that facilitates it.

When you talk about Kubernetes, you need something that’s always on because your applications and infrastructure are dynamic, and users are frequently deploying applications and changing configurations inside Kubernetes. Your policies need to be applied dynamically.

How should enterprises think about Kubernetes governance?

Within the IT landscape, it’s become increasingly noticeable since 2020 that more companies are embracing Kubernetes, as well as cloud-native approaches, to add extra layers of security and flexibility to their applications. In 2021 alone, more than 5.6 million developers used Kubernetes, marking a 67% increase from the year before. During the same period, cloud-native tech also grew significantly, with statistics indicating a huge growth in cloud-native development as more enterprises become aware of the benefits accompanying this more agile approach to policy management and deployment.

In my observation, enterprises cannot provide enhanced customer experiences or achieve scalability without adopting Kubernetes governance. Governance helps them establish their infrastructure and standardize it with more control, prevent costly misconfigurations and enable visibility.

Scaling Kubernetes requires centralized governance.

Scaling a layered and complex open-source system such as Kubernetes brings business value for leaders seeking the kind of operational fluidity necessary for the long haul.

To maintain a competitive advantage, you must develop applications, experiment, and enter new markets quickly. Enterprises need efficiency from all processes to be assured of the well-layered security of the assets while also achieving cost optimization.

Scaling Kubernetes operations helps CIOs and their companies achieve new maturity levels. Many businesses want to leverage Kubernetes to improve their agility and scalability but often find themselves stuck at the “build and operate” phase. For traditional companies to make cloud-native adoption a realistic proposition, leaders must adopt Kubernetes governance, using policy-as-code to define and manage all rules and conditions effectively.

Waiting too long to apply Kubernetes governance exposes you to threat actors and prevents you from retroactively introducing policies. The key is to establish Kubernetes governance through policies early so that developers don’t independently create habits that are hard to undo down the road. The idea that you can wait to establish governance is a myth that must be eradicated. Business value and benefits are realized when you execute Kubernetes governance early on, preventing implementation issues and cutting costs.

What are the policies around Kubernetes governance that enterprises should prioritize?

Policies are the crux of Kubernetes governance, making it achievable and providing robustness to ensure applications run without interruption. With Kubernetes’s strong container orchestration abilities comes great responsibility, as securing it ensures that enterprises meet compliance requirements and prevent data leakage.

Policy management in Kubernetes development has become more commonplace, with policy enforcement becoming more active in production. Also, teams are using policy management for admission control.

Today, companies often start with automation and move to security, governance and compliance later. This is a mindset that must change to achieve higher levels of operational efficiency. Enterprises should start with security, compliance and governance policies, considering policies including pod security, multitenancy and supply chain security.

They can enforce these policies to set a standard that developers and applications must follow. Putting approvals and automation in place that are independent of developers ensures best practices are enforced.

Determining the policies and targets that must be defined depends on the end goal—whether it’s to meet organizational conventions or legal compliance. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the most standard ways to define policies, using a network policy API to control network traffic. For pod security, optional admission controllers enable the policies, ensuring pods are being created securely within clusters.

Three key dimensions should be established to establish a governance framework: Targets (clusters and workloads), policies and triggers (where the policies are checked). There are different options to implement frameworks, including implementation at the top of a centralized Kubernetes platform, particularly if it has an API that’s accessible through various clusters and characteristics. Tools like Kyverno can be utilized to create the necessary frameworks.

Through multicluster management and visibility, in which operators can successfully view and manage disparate clusters, as well as configuration management to identify software vulnerabilities, optimal Kubernetes governance becomes more achievable.

Scaling Kubernetes by optimizing Kubernetes governance has enabled enterprises to shift left, encouraging collaboration between developers and SecOps professionals while enabling them to achieve things sooner in the development cycle. Detecting problems early in the software cycle prevents costly inefficiencies and maximizes cost savings for enterprises.

By prioritizing Kubernetes governance, enterprises implement the necessary guardrails to successfully protect their most prized assets and achieve the scalability that makes them more secure and robust.

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