Streamline Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Management – DZone Cloud

The footprint of Kubernetes is expanding rapidly in all industries. Many enterprises already operate multiple Kubernetes clusters in multiple regions to address the needs of global operations and reduce application latency for customers worldwide. You may already have a large number of Kubernetes clusters in on-premises data centers and a number of public cloud locations, possibly using several cloud providers to avoid lock-in.

Unfortunately, operating a distributed, multi-cluster, multi-cloud environment is not a simple task. Kubernetes is a relatively new technology. It’s hard to find staff with Kubernetes skills or to identify the best tools for multi-cloud Kubernetes management.

If your team is struggling with multi-cluster Kubernetes, you’re not alone. This blog examines three steps you can take now to reduce the time and effort spent on multi-cluster management:

  • Step 1: Adopt Zero Trust for Kubernetes access – Kubernetes Zero Trust can increase the security of your multi-cluster, multi-cloud Kubernetes environment.
  • Step 2: Enable continuous deployment – GitOps helps you ensure consistent deployment of clusters and applications across multiple Kubernetes clusters.
  • Step 3: Simplify multi-cluster lifecycle management – Kubernetes changes fast. The right multi-cluster management tools will help you keep up with deployments and upgrades.

Step 1: Adopt Zero-Trust for Kubernetes Access

Given the complexity of multi-cloud Kubernetes management, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a lot of serious security mistakes are happening. With cyber crime and data breaches expected to rise in 2022, you have to do everything possible to ensure security for your Kubernetes clusters and applications.

The best way to ensure access security for multi-cluster Kubernetes management is by adopting Zero Trust methods. Zero Trust is a security model that assumes all actors, systems, and services operating in and between networks cannot be trusted.

Kubernetes includes all the necessary hooks to implement Zero Trust to control access to each Kubernetes cluster in your fleet. These hooks fall into four key areas: Authentication, Authorization, Admission Control, Logging, and Auditing as shown in the image below. Our recent blog, Securing Kubernetes: Applying Zero-Trust Principles to Your Kubernetes Environment explains each of these areas in detail, including best practices.

Hook Four Key Areas: Authentication, Authorization, Admission Control, Logging, and Auditing

Step 2: Enable Multi-Cluster Continuous Deployment

Frequent application and infrastructure updates are the norms in multi-cloud, multi-cluster Kubernetes environments. In many cases, your team will need to deploy to multiple Kubernetes clusters at the same time. With dozens of clusters and hundreds of application instances it can be almost impossible to avoid drift: configuration inconsistencies between clusters and configuration mistakes that result in prolonged troubleshooting, downtime, or worse.

To solve these many challenges organizations are turning into GitOps, bringing the familiar capabilities of Git tools to infrastructure management and continuous deployment (CD). GitOps uses Git as a single source of truth for both infrastructure and applications. Because GitOps is declarative, it provides better standardization, enhanced security, and improved productivity.

A Git repository stores all the necessary information for defining, creating, and updating applications and infrastructure. When changes are made to the repository, code is pushed to (or rolled back from) your clusters, automating deployments quickly and reliably.

Changes made to the repository, code is pushed to (or rolled back from) clusters

While you can implement the GitOps methodology and GitOps workflows using standard Git tools, you’ll need some additional tooling to get the full benefits, especially the ability to ensure that the desired state is maintained.

Step 3: Simplify Multi-Cluster Lifecycle Management

In many enterprises, Kubernetes environments grow organically over time, with multiple Kubernetes distributions and cloud services, such as Amazon EKS and Azure AKS, to provide the necessary coverage across multiple regions. All these “flavors” of Kubernetes may be the same at the core, but the popular cloud environments, as well as distributions such as RedHat OpenShift, Rancher, and VMware Tanzu, have different management tools. This means that deploying and updating clusters in each environment can be significantly different.

Unless your organization has standardized on a single flavor of Kubernetes, the best solution is to find one tool that can perform lifecycle management for your entire fleet. Unfortunately, this remains a challenge because there are few available tools that cover both the popular Kubernetes distributions and cloud Kubernetes services. Many vendor tools, such as Rancher for multi-cluster workloads, only work with their own distribution or have other limitations.

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