Virtualization Technology News and Information
The Rise of Modern Day Kubernetes Operations

By Haseeb Budhani Co-founder and CEO, Rafay Systems

According to Gartner, by 2022, more than 75% of organizations will run containerized applications in production, up from less than 30% in 2020. As cloud-native and application modernization strategies continue to gain adoption -- across increasingly complex hybrid and multi-cloud environments -- many enterprises see operational cost, complexity and the resources required to manage it all increase at an alarming rate.

With a clear understanding that Kubernetes is one of the top enablers for application modernization strategies, it, however, leaves enterprises with the complexity of the very technology designed to streamline the management of modern applications. The first generation of Kubernetes solutions did an excellent job of tackling Kubernetes cluster provisioning. Still, many enterprises moving forward on an application modernization journey have to build production-level capabilities for automation, security, visibility and governance on their own. These additional capabilities are typically either cluster aware or application aware, but not both, thus limiting their ability to reduce complexity and streamline operations.

Connecting these tools to manage the lifecycle of Kubernetes infrastructure and modern applications forced many enterprises with platform teams to reinvent the operational wheel. As a result, operating production-level Kubernetes environments continues to require a massive investment of time, money and resources. In fact, there are numerous different system and toolset requirements that must be met in order to make Kubernetes truly operational. For example:

  • Cluster Provisioning: the process of creating clusters in one or more environments. Investing in automation for provisioning clusters is critical so each cluster can then be (re)provisioned easily by anyone in the operations team.
  • Cluster Blueprinting & Workload Templates: standardized cluster and application configurations with tools that the enterprise can reuse to deploy and support applications.
  • Continuous Deployment (CD): deploying containerized apps frequently and automatically to one or more clusters. A well-thought-through CD strategy is a key to ensuring your developers are moving as fast as possible.
  • Cluster & App RBAC and SSO: these solutions govern access and authorization to all your clusters - deployed across clouds and data centers - by systems and users.
  • Secrets Management: securely handle the credentials and other sensitive data applications need to deliver value.
  • Cluster & App Log Collection: collect application and system logs from across the cluster fleet. Review strategies for centrally collecting records from clusters in a consistent, repeatable way.
  • Ingress and Service Mesh: manage application traffic to/from clusters and manage application services such as transport security and tracing. It's essential to think through a multi-cluster strategy to ensure that the same application security rigor is applied to all clusters, everywhere.
  • Cluster Upgrading: upgrading, not just the Kubernetes distribution running on your clusters, but also the core components that help Kubernetes function. New K8s versions are available 3-4 times per year to deliver new capabilities to the community.
  • Storage Management: this is a common problem for enterprises running Kubernetes clusters on-premises. Many teams invest time and effort in building in-house solutions, but commercial solutions also address this requirement.
  • Cluster & Workload Backup & Restore: is critical to ensure continuous operations for production applications if/when disaster strikes. Open source tools and commercial tools are used by companies to address this requirement.
  • Kubernetes API Endpoint Security: arguably the most crucial requirement for enterprise-grade Kubernetes management, a cluster's API endpoint should only be available in a private subnet.
  • Enterprise-Wide Dashboards: provide a single, organization-wide view of resources consumed, user and access activity, critical alerts, and the overall health of every Kubernetes cluster deployed across all internal teams and business units.

As you can see, operational best practices for Kubernetes don't stop at cluster provisioning and management. Enterprise Platform/SRE teams must also consider the critical operational strategies for the entire lifecycle management of Kubernetes infrastructure and modern applications -- together.

The requirements listed above, which account for only some of the systems and tooling involved in deploying and operating an enterprise-grade Kubernetes environment, will impact the ways developers, SREs, DevOps teams and security teams interact. Keeping pace with emerging requirements requires a Kubernetes operations mindset to bring teams and tools together to develop processes for how the enterprise can deploy modern applications and resolve issues faster.


To hear more about cloud native topics, join the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and cloud native community at KubeCon+CloudNativeCon North America 2021 - October 11-15, 2021       


Haseeb Budhani Co-founder and CEO, Rafay Systems

Haseeb Budhani 

Haseeb Budhani is co-founder and CEO of Rafay Systems ( His passion is solving hard networking problems with elegant, cost-effective solutions. Prior to co-founding Rafay, Haseeb founded and was the CEO of Soha Systems, which was acquired by Akamai Technologies and previously held positions at Infineta Systems, NET and Citrix Systems.

Published Thursday, October 07, 2021 7:47 AM by David Marshall
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