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Refcard #344

Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Management and Governance

Due to the performance nature of modern cloud-native applications, Kubernetes environments need to be highly distributed. Proper multi-cluster management and governance ensure consistent, secure operations across all environments. In this Refcard, we further explore Kubernetes multi-cluster management and governance, why it's important, and core practices for success.

Published: Jan. 26, 2021
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author avatar Stefan Thorpe VP Engineering, Cherre
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Refcard #344

Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Management and Governance

Due to the performance nature of modern cloud-native applications, Kubernetes environments need to be highly distributed. Proper multi-cluster management and governance ensure consistent, secure operations across all environments. In this Refcard, we further explore Kubernetes multi-cluster management and governance, why it's important, and core practices for success.

Published: Jan. 26, 2021
2,542
Free PDF for easy Reference

Written by

author avatar Stefan Thorpe VP Engineering, Cherre

Brought to you by

Mesosphere
Table of Contents

Introduction

What Is Multi-Cluster Management?

What Is Kubernetes Governance?

Core Practices for Successful Kubernetes Governance

Why Is Multi-Cluster Management and Governance Important?

Conclusion

Section 1

Introduction

In today’s technology landscape, Kubernetes plays a vital role. Container usage is only increasing, with 86% of IT leaders prioritizing containerization for more applications. (Cloud Container Adoption In The Enterprise, 2020) 

Kubernetes is an open-source container management system designed by Google that brings significant agility, automation, and optimization to those running containers in a DevOps environment.  

Thanks to Kubernetes’ extensibility, it’s able to meet the most diverse requirements and constraints in application development, and sits firmly in the prime spot as the most common open-source container orchestration framework.   

However, enterprise organizations who are operating and serving customers at scale need to consider how best to leverage the complexity of Kubernetes to fully take advantage of wider geolocated cloud features.  

Kubernetes is originally designed to support workload consolidation in a single cluster. However, there are many problem scenarios that require a multi-cluster approach to optimize performance and results. These can include workloads across regions, limiting outage blast radius, compliance issues, hard multitenancy, security, and specialized solutions. For example, enterprise-scale organizations might leverage multiple Kubernetes clusters spread across multiple clouds or hybrid clouds with on-premises and with one or more cloud providers.  


This is a preview of the Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Management and Governance Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

Section 2

What Is Multi-Cluster Management?

Due to the performance nature of modern cloud-native applications, Kubernetes environments need to be highly distributed. Proper multi-cluster management ensures consistent operations across all environments, enterprise-grade security, and workload management.  

 Below is a visual representation of an example Kubernetes multi-cluster architecture:      

Leveraging multiple Kubernetes clusters can solve many of the aforementioned problem scenarios, but managing multiple clusters is a difficult task. As the cluster grows, the complexity in managing them also increases. There are multiple operations that occur in a well-managed Kubernetes cluster, such as adding/removing a node, securing the cluster, upgrading it from time to time, maintaining the cluster, etc.  

These operations' complex nature at scale requires a proper Kubernetes multi-cluster management system to monitor everything happening on all the clusters. Taking a best practice approach, SREs in operations teams can better monitor the health of the cluster environment and maintain application performance when multi-cluster architecture is more uniform. 

Kubernetes multi-cluster operations include: 

  • Creating, updating, and deleting Kubernetes clusters across different environments (data centers; private, hybrid, and public clouds; and at the Edge) 
  • Updating the control plane and compute nodes 
  • Managing application life cycles across hybrid environments 
  • Scaling, securing, and upgrading clusters (perhaps even provider-independent) 
  • Maintaining and updating multiple nodes 
  • Searching, finding, and modifying any Kubernetes resource 
  • Implementing Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) over the clusters. (For example, an admin can have access to all clusters, but a developer might only need access to the dev cluster.) 
  • Defining the resource quotas among the clusters 
  • Creating pod budget policies 
  • Creating network and governance policies 
  • Defining taints and toleration on the clusters 
  • Scanning for risks and vulnerabilities 

This is a preview of the Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Management and Governance Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

Section 3

What Is Kubernetes Governance?

Governance is about synchronizing clusters and enforcing centralized policy management. Kubernetes governance refers to a set of rules created through policies that need to be enforced on all Kube clusters. This is a critical component for enterprises being production-ready and working at scale in Kubernetes. Typically, this process means enforcing conformance rules across Kubernetes multi-clusters as well as applications running in those clusters.   

It would help if you had a solid plan in place to be production-ready at scale. Kubernetes governance may sound dull, but it’s going to pay off in the long run, especially if implemented across a large organization. Suppose you continue to grow the number of clusters in use without governance. In that case, they will exist in different pockets with different rules and implementations, which basically translates to a huge amount of extra time and work for your teams to manage in the near future. However, there are only a few very important components for creating successful Kubernetes governance, and these are outlined below.  


This is a preview of the Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Management and Governance Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

Section 4

Core Practices for Successful Kubernetes Governance

When considering a successful Kubernetes governance strategy, the first component is ensuring that good multi-cluster management and visibility are well in place. It is necessary to maintain control over how and where clusters are provisioned and configured, as well as which versions of software can be used. For visibility, ideally, you should be able to centrally view and manage clusters to better optimize resources and troubleshoot issues. Improved management practices and better visibility can also save you the headache of having to deal with a number of security risks and performance issues down the road.  

Next, you need to have an authentication and access management system. Having centralized authentication and authorization is going to help your organization in a big way. Not only will it make the process of login easier, but it’ll also help track who is doing what, so you can ensure the right people are performing the right tasks at any given time.  

Finally, for Kubernetes governance, you should optimize policy management. Think about how Kubernetes is going to impact your engineering culture and how to find the right balance for developers’ flexibility within it. Governance — with an appropriate level of flexibility — ensures that you can meet customer needs and deploy critical services in a uniform and consistent way. 

The two governance dimensions consist of:  

  • Policy scope: where a specific rule should be applied, enforced, or verified 
  • Policy targets: what should be enforced and verified 

When you think about policy targets for governance, there can be many aspects. Here, we are discussing security policies, network management, access management, and image management.  

Limit User Access 

In security policies for Kubernetes governance, it’s important to limit users' access on the pods in the clusters. Users of the cluster should have well-defined access depending on the privilege, which is based on their role. To achieve this, implement security policies in place that will have rules and conditions related to access and privileges. In these policies, define that the containers should have only read access to the file system and enforce allowPrivilegeEscalation=false in the policy so that the containers and child processes cannot be subject to privilege changes.  


This is a preview of the Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Management and Governance Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

Section 5

Why Is Multi-Cluster Management and Governance Important?

The complexity of managing a Kubernetes cluster only increases as the size of the cluster increases. Cluster sprawl can begin with multiple different application teams using it for different projects. The solution to this is identifying and implementing best practice governance early and quickly to avoid major leg work in the future. Implement multiple smaller clusters and a single centralized management system to keep track of all the clusters and optimize observability (for monitoring, alerting, capacity control, and cost management, etc.).  

This approach will help in reducing complexity and ensure that applications running on the clusters are highly available. You will also see an improvement in performance because you can deploy your application on a cluster in the nearest available region where your application needs to be deployed. Implementing governance early makes sure that everything is working as per rules defined in the policies and the employees of the organization comply with it.   

The key advantages of optimizing multi-cluster management and governance include: 

  • Reduced complexity 
  • Enhanced cluster visibility  
  • Better application availability 
  • Improved monitoring and logging 
  • Ensured conformance and compliance 
  • Reduced latency 
  • Improved disaster recovery 
  • Ability to deploy legacy and cloud-native application across multiple cloud/hybrid environments 
  • Enhanced cloud solutions 
  • Standardization with built-in automation to reduce operational costs and improve efficiency  
  • Better security posture (through visibility, centralized control, consistency, and standardization) 

This is a preview of the Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Management and Governance Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

Section 6

Conclusion

There are many established vendors like D2iQ, Red Hat OpenShift, Google Anthos,      Rancher, and VMware Tanzu that are capable of supporting you in the management and governance of Kubernetes multi-clusters at scale with ease. Any one of these vendors can help you reap the benefits and solve most of the possible challenges faced in the industry while working with Kubernetes at scale.  

For those interested in following an open-source path for multi-cluster management and governance (perhaps to reduce OPEX costs), there are a lot of open-source tools available. Tools like K9s, Kontena Lens, WKSctlcAdvisorand Weave Scope can help you overcome the basic challenges involved in managing and governing Kubernetes multi-clusters.  

The benefits of investing in a Kubernetes management platform lie predominantly in the cost savings an organization can experience by making sure everything in production runs smoothly and that applications can run at scale across the globe without any hiccups. Optimizing such a tool can also help you reduce manual effort amongst your engineers through the multiple automated solutions available in their features. Any one of these vendors can help you reduce the workforce power involved and the bandwidth required to manage multiple Kubernetes clusters across a large-scale enterprise.  

So, when considering how to manage multi-cloud, multi-distribution clusters, DevOps teams should take a look at these platforms as an alternative to overcome the pain of multi-cluster management and governance on their own. 


This is a preview of the Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Management and Governance Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

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