Kubernetes is the golden standard for managing, automating, and scaling containers. Its adoption in recent years has shown its popularity as a tool for deploying cloud-native applications in testing and production environments.
Organizations migrating to Kubernetes have seen increased agility, improve development, and reduced friction in the processes but running its day-to-day operations is not as easy as it seems.
Kubernetes application lifecycle consists of many stages-design, deployment, and operations which developers have to consider when deploying clusters and maintaining them in the long term.
Indeed, it is typically the production operations stage where developers face challenges when the underlying architecture induces different complexities as it grows.
The complexities represent an opportunity for vendors to help organizations properly maintain Kubernetes clusters based on the workload and even take control of monitoring and management to reduce redundant steps.
All of these procedures/operations performed by organizations or vendors to simplify and refine the Kubernetes stack for automating the platform’s management come into Day 2 Operations.
A day here refers to the phases of organization Kubernetes application lifecycle Day 0 refers to the design phase, Day 1 is the deployment phase, and Day 2 is when the application shifts from a development project to the production environment.
With CNCF survey 2019 indicating 58% of respondents evaluating the container orchestration platform already in production. Kubernetes has moved past Day 0 and Day 1 and is now in the Day 2 phase for most companies.
Successfully moving to Day 2 Kubernetes operations not only comes with improving just your application but the way they operate it in production. Organizations need to consider monitoring, maintenance, and troubleshooting so the applications meet security, agility, and compliance requirements.
Day 2 operations are considered the longest phase for any application in production as enterprises have to understand how the application will survive into a broader technical architecture.
Day 2 operations can easily be neglected by organizations in a rush to deploy and can result in decreased Kubernetes success, especially for mission-critical applications where reliability, risk, and management are not an option.
To take full advantage of cloud-native functionalities and enable rapid development and deployment of new applications. We have curated this blog that will mention the common Kubernetes Day 2 challenges companies run into and help you prepare for the challenges to avoid the pains that come after implementation.
Day 2 Kubernetes often requires advanced observability features, which are not offered by monitoring tools used in Kubernetes development environments.
Kubernetes clusters running in production are typically deployed alongside various technologies, which have to be debugged comprehensively to know the root cause.
So to have metrics data on each part of the infrastructure, a stack of open source technologies has to be built to help with Day 2 Kubernetes monitoring and logging.
Security for Day 2 Kubernetes is challenging and differs widely from security in testing environments. Organizations have to ensure secure parameters for the production application and deploy strict governance policies that apply to all production workloads.
This can become challenging with increasing infrastructure complexity unless guardrails are properly placed to secure the resource hardware, network/pod policies, container images from vulnerabilities.
Another challenge for Day 2 Kubernetes operations is scaling. According to Knaup, the founder of D2IQ, “The most common challenges organizations face when it comes to adopting Kubernetes are security concerns and difficulty scaling up effectively.”
The ability to scale for an organization in production is important as challenges in Day 2 can easily increase the number of nodes and scale applications to suit business goals.
For Day 2 Kubernetes operations, there are different scalability parameters like location, the number of clusters, physical nodes per cluster that have to be taken into consideration so enterprises having teams worldwide can easily collaborate and develop mission-critical applications.
Debugging or troubleshooting storage operations in Kubernetes production environments are quite different from testing environments.
Large Enterprises running Kubernetes in production often implements cloud storage like AWS Elastic Block Store (EBS), Azure Disk, GCE Persistent Disk, a specific persistent storage structure requiring storage specialists re-learn the technology to manage day 2 Kubernetes storage issues successfully.
Also, the binding of volumes with claims is specific to cloud vendors. It depends on size and storage class, which can add complexities and make storage management time-consuming when running containers in large numbers.
High availability in Day 2 Kubernetes is challenging for business-critical apps because the ability to meet service level agreements and uptime decreases with infrastructure’s growing complexities.
Cluster administrators struggle to understand the working between clusters since teams can have different cluster environments challenging to manage and troubleshoot.
Breaking up clusters into smaller sizes does isolate problems. Still, organizations struggle to find the right balance between the cluster size and the locations resulting in infrastructure that does not guarantee high availability.
Kubernetes is an open-source technology that encourages users to collaborate and to update and copy the source code. Frequent contributions to the community result in monthly releases of Kubernetes updates, which have to be applied timely into production clusters.
Typically traditional IT teams are adopted to larger vendors’ yearly updates. With Kubernetes monthly updates, they have to develop a strategy from Day 2 onwards that upgrades Kubernetes features and patches security vulnerabilities securely and frequently.
Almost all organizations that run cloud-native technology like Kubernetes in enterprise environments have run into challenges, mostly during the development phase). This is wholly due to the scarcity of fully skilled Kubernetes developers that are needed to accelerate Kubernetes adoption.
Developers who are available on-premise are qualified to run clusters in testing environments and experiment with new features, but when these features have to be maintained as a part of Day 2 operations. Most processes require custom coding and automation, which requires a huge amount of expertise that most traditional development teams lack.
As a result, developers are forced to manage these processes themselves, which often leads to building applications that create a friction point in the Day 2 workflows and have trouble integrating with DevOps and CI/CD in production.
Kubernetes in production can have components to configure that quickly become complex to visualize or manage with scale. So to ensure proper functioning, here are some of the practices that can be implemented on day 2 to ensure correct configuration and make sense of the logs
Implementing the ability to control the entire organization’s Kubernetes infrastructure through a unified dashboard is a great way to improve cycle time, reduce context switching for Day 2 operations.
With the entire system in one place, the operations team can easily handle and visualize all the telemetry data related to different tools. Simultaneously, the developers can entirely focus on the logic of the application without spending time learning Kubernetes skills.
A single platform also allows the Kubernetes team to create and centrally manage governance policies at the cluster level so teams can easily have a high-level view of cluster connections and ensure that Kubernetes production workloads are configured in tandem with the organization’s security and compliance policies.
According to Knaup, Kubernetes Operators provides all the necessary tooling to automate complex Day 2 operations. Operators are deployed into Kubernetes clusters and implement Day 2 activities like updates, backups, and failovers.
Operators are managed through an Operator Framework toolkit developed by RedHat.The toolkit consists of an SDK for building custom operators to meet specific Day 2 needs, such as:
A single centralized Kubernetes platform optimized for Day 2 operations must provide robust monitoring and logging capabilities that can be automated through operators to establish a centralized log collection mechanism and detect availability, security, and performance issues.
Management of workloads in Kubernetes is largely done through YAML manifests and config files which are complex to write. Especially in production workflows where there are endless numbers of YAML files for containers. Operators are implemented to automate the management of YAML manifests.
GitOps is a DevOps methodology that can be easily integrated into companies’ Kubernetes infrastructure to improve Day 2 operations.
GitOps uses Git as a single source for declarative infrastructure and applications in delivery pipelines to accelerate operations and deployments in Kubernetes.
GitOps applies to CI/CD in Kubernetes and allows developers to deploy cloud-native apps with higher reliability and consistency using Continuous Integration tools.
CI tools like Jenkins or CircleCI automates CI with each container as complexity grows, so developers don’t have to make manual, time-consuming configuration changes at the time of rollout and rollback.
As organizations move towards their Kubernetes migration journeys and manage Day 2 operations, the demand for Kubernetes skills only increases. Organizations typically mediate the developer’s load and support the high demand through extensive training, but the path has challenges unique to every enterprise.
In these scenarios, the organization’s right strategy would be building central teams of Kubernetes expertise that can handle operational tasks while supporting the typical development teams. Central teams will act both as developers and administrators and reduce the number of people required to support the entire Day 2 journey.
Kubernetes is a powerful tool that solves all the requirements for businesses running critical applications in the cloud, but when it comes to the configuration and management of Kubernetes infrastructure in long-term processes has to be automated, which is where Day 2 operations come into play.
Day 2 operations are largely influenced by the decisions enterprises take during the design and implementation phases. Teams have to establish strategies for centralized monitoring, maintenance, optimizations, and future upgrades before the application runs into production. Ensuring that the Day 2 strategies are in place for teams and developers also increases businesses’ availability and performance levels while simplifying operations.
Many times, all the Day 2 concerns mentioned above are not considered essential, so Kubernetes adoption lacks large enterprises and business corporations.