Kubernetes Practices Gap Assessment

Using Kubernetes to orchestrate containerized software has proven value for DevOps value streams. To get the maximum value from Kubernetes, it is important to use recommended best practices, inclusive of people, processes and technologies. A gap assessment is a great way to efficiently evaluate an organization’s practices for Kubernetes, and determine a strategy for improvement. Gap analysis provides valuable inputs for formulating a strategy and roadmap to improve on a topic, including Kubernetes.

My SlideShare, Gap Survey, Assessment and Analysis For Kubernetes, explains how my Nine Pillars Gap Assessment tool greatly speeds up the gap survey, gap assessment and gap analysis process for Kubernetes.

DevOps Connect:DevSecOps @ RSAC 2022

It is important to clarify a few definitions for this blog because I have found that different people and organizations use these terms differently. In this blog, and in my consulting work, I use the following definitions:

  • Gap survey is a discovery tool used to collect information about the current state of practices for a topic.
  • Gap assessment is a process to determine differences (gaps) between current practices and recommended practices for a topic. Gap assessment is also used to refer to the entire collection of activities in this list.
  • Gap assessment workshop is a meeting in which the gap assessment is validated prior to gap analysis.
  • Gap analysis is the process of determining priorities for reducing gaps found during a gap assessment.
  • Gap assessment tool is software that helps perform gap surveys, gap assessments and gap analysis.

For those that want to dig deeper on this topic, additional definitions and contextual information related to the way I do Gap Assessments are clarified in my book Engineering DevOps.

I define a seven-step process for gap assessments. The steps are as follows:

  1. Pick a topic to analyze. The same processes and tools can be applied equally well to almost any topic.
  2. Determine recommended practices for the topic. Something that is worth doing a gap assessment for, such as Kubernetes, will normally be fairly complex with dozens, if not hundreds, of practices. Categorize the practices into groupings (I call the groups “pillars”) to make the list of practices more understandable and meaningful. This will require some research and work. For example, I have a database of practices and pillars for DevOps, continuous testing, DevSecOps and SRE and some other topics, such as Kubernetes.
  3. Enter the practices from step two into a gap assessment tool. The tool can be a simple survey tool you create, a commercial survey tool or something custom-made.
  4. Determine who needs to be included in the gap survey.
  5. Collect data using the gap survey.
  6. Perform a gap assessment.
  7. Perform a gap analysis.

For the remainder of this blog, I explain these seven steps for Kubernetes.

Step One: Pick a Topic to Analyze  

In this blog, the topic is Kubernetes.

Step Two: Determine Recommended Practices for Kubernetes 

For an example Kubernetes assessment, I used the practices under the nine practices categories described in a blog that I co-authored called Nine Pillars of Kubernetes Best Practices. The nine practice category pillars are:

  • Leadership
  • Collaborative culture
  • Design for DevOps
  • Continuous integration
  • Continuous testing
  • Continuous monitoring
  • Elastic infrastructure
  • Continuous delivery
  • Continuous security

Step Three: Enter the Practices From Step Two Into a Gap Assessment Tool 

A gap assessment tool, pre-loaded with sample Kubernetes practices in a file called “Kubernetes Assessment,” can be downloaded for free from one of the resource pages found on my website Engineering DevOps. You can edit the practices categories and add/delete practices from each category if you prefer to make changes.

Step Four: Determine Who Needs to be Included in the Gap Survey

For the gap analysis to be comprehensive, people in roles that are affected by Kubernetes practices need to be surveyed, or at least represented, to ensure their perspectives are included. The following are example roles that typically are included.

  • Business leaders – because they influence culture and budgets for Kubernetes.
  • Developers – because they need to design in accordance with Kubernetes practices.
  • Project owners – because they influence product work priorities.
  • QA testers – because they need to test in accordance with Kubernetes practices.
  • Ops – because Kubernetes practices affect operations.
  • Security – because Kubernetes affects security practices.

The survey can be conducted for an individual application, a group of applications, or all the applications in the enterprise.  However, it is important that the gap assessment and gap analysis be performed on the segment of the organization that is being targeted for improvement.

Step Five: Collect Data Using the Gap Survey

A gap survey should allow each surveyed person to enter an importance level score, a practice level score and comments for each practice. All this information is essential for the gap assessment and gap analysis.  In the gap survey included within in my Gap assessment tool, survey respondents are asked to score the importance of each practice as 0=Not relevant, 1=Not important, 2=Nice to have, 3=Important, 4=Very important, or 5=Critical. Practice level choices are 0=Not sure, 1=Rarely, if ever, 2= Sometimes, 3=Most of the time, 4=Always or 5=We are really good at this. Comments that are relevant to qualify or explain the scores entered for each practice should also be entered, especially if there is any doubt or ambiguity.

Step Six: Perform a Gap Assessment

The gap assessment process requires all the practices scores recorded during the surveys to be collected and assembled to calculate an aggregate set of scores. Gap scores are calculated using a formula that weights each practice level score with the corresponding importance level score. A visual representation helps to identify practices areas and individual practices that have the highest, most important gaps.

No matter how professionally written the practices and score definitions are, it is not unusual for some people to misunderstand and to enter scores that they would not have otherwise. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the data collected is validated before conducting the gap analysis. The preferred approach is to conduct a gap assessment workshop with key representatives from each role that participated in the survey. During the workshop, the scores for each practice that have a high deviation from what was recorded in survey responses are discussed and, if necessary, adjusted.

Step Seven: Perform a Gap Analysis

The gap analysis process involves extracting the high gap practices and tagging and ranking each of them against solution categories that are determined by a consultant or topic expert.

The result of the gap analysis indicates where solution strategies and implementation roadmaps need to be focused to reduce the most important gaps.

What This Means

While you can easily stand up a Kubernetes tool quite quickly, this alone will not realize the benefits of following effective and safe Kubernetes practices. Those who are serious about Kubernetes would do well to learn from others, and be serious about using recommended Kubernetes best practices. This blog explained a gap assessment approach, which uses my nine pillars of best practices for Kubernetes. My free Kubernetes gap assessment tool facilitates getting a gap analysis for Kubernetes and outlines priorities to improve Kubernetes practices for an organization.

Marc Hornbeek

Marc Hornbeek, a.k.a., DevOps-the-Gray esq. is a globally recognized expert for DevOps, DevSecOps, Continuous Testing and SRE. He is CEO and Principal Consultant at Engineering DevOps Consulting , author of the book "Engineering DevOps", and Ambassador and Author for The DevOps Institute . Marc applies his unique, comprehensive Engineering Blueprints, Seven-Step DevOps Transformation Blueprint and 9 DevOps Pillars discovery and assessment tools, together with targeted workshops skills to create actionable and comprehensive DevOps transformation roadmaps and strategic plans. Marc is an IEEE Outstanding Engineer, and 45-year IEEE Life member. He is a DevOps leadership advisor/mentor. He is the original author of the Continuous Delivery Ecosystem (CDEF) and Continuous Testing Foundations (CTF) certification courses that are offered by the DevOps Institute. He is a Blogger on DevOps.com and ContainerJournal.com. He is a freelance writer of DevOps content including webinars, and white papers. He is a freelance trainer for DevOps, DevSecOps and SRE courses offered by partners of the DevOps Institute.

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