When is Kubernetes Service Ownership the Right Fit?

Why is Kubernetes service ownership emerging as the way for software delivery and operations teams to establish full “ownership” of the services they support? Because ownership covers the lifespan of software from development to deployment to the sunsetting process. And this shift to full-spectrum accountability brings about dramatic improvements in the overall speed, reliability, security and cost of applications. 

Of course, it’s not always easy to determine which organizations need this level of ownership. When businesses grow, they typically discover that pushing the delivery of applications and services through a gate of operations is challenging at best, impossible at worst. Even so, the DevSecOps mindset is on the rise, which means teams are now seeking ways to make this type of shift into more meaningful and effective ownership. It is the shift that enables a deep fundamental change to occur within an organization. 

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Kubernetes Service Ownership Explained

Do you know where the configuration of your Kubernetes environment is failing to meet industry standards and best practices? You should. Think about deployments for a minute. They may seem to work fine without something as simple as a liveness and readiness probe in place—or without resource requests and limits set—but the reality is that ignoring these configuration settings is a sure path to future problems. 

Now think about security. Uncovering when a Kubernetes deployment is over-permissions is pretty hard to do. And, in fact, many teams do over-permission containers and clusters, primarily because the easiest way to get something working is to provide root access or full admin privileges. As a result, configuration (or misconfiguration, as the case may be) can and does introduce considerable risk into the Kubernetes environment. 

When proper governance is in place, however, Kubernetes service ownership can help businesses to ship code faster and with far fewer security risks, particularly those businesses with multiple clusters and teams. 

Who Really Needs Kubernetes Service Ownership?

Truthfully, it’s not the perfect model for every organization. Small companies or startups with only one application, one DevOps engineer and one small development team probably don’t require such a model. Usually, operations can still own all of the deployment configurations, regardless of whether they are running on Kubernetes. 

However, as businesses grow, so does the need for a more comprehensive ownership model. Companies running several clusters must often manage the “ownership” of deployment configurations for every application. Kubernetes service ownership can offer real value here because it empowers developers to take possession of the way their applications are configured away from one centralized team. While this usually happens in larger businesses running a centralized Kubernetes platform, the model of effective ownership can apply to many business examples. In organizations where hundreds or thousands of clusters are running, scaling without some kind of service ownership model in place is nearly impossible. 

Development teams gaining complete full-stack ownership is less common. While it normally happens with smaller teams, the businesses themselves can be any size.  In fact, 65% of companies use Kubernetes in production. A recent 2021 Fairwinds study found that organizations with more than 500 developers are more likely (78%) to run all (or most) containerized workloads in production.

How to Easily Enable K8s Service Ownership

It is important to find a solution that unifies development, security and operations by simplifying complexity and enabling full service ownership of Kubernetes. To help teams overcome cultural challenges and embrace service ownership, organizations need to focus on:

  • Enablement — The Dev team can have visibility into appropriate security and efficiency configuration in their applications—it isn’t just an Ops problem because the dev teams now know what appropriate configuration looks like.
  • Reliability — The service owners can configure Kubernetes using best practice guidelines, even if they don’t know Kubernetes intimately, ensuring fast, reliable applications and avoiding downtime.
  • Continuous Improvements — The team can continuously improve how Kubernetes is used by integrating service ownership from CI/CD through production, broken deployments can actually be stopped from shipping through to production.

DevOps teams need visibility into Kubernetes environments with a dashboard view of all clusters and activities. This capability allows teams to better understand the misconfigurations causing security and compliance risks, reducing the time it takes to complete effective vulnerability management through integrated scanning. This ability also helps teams with the more challenging aspects of Kubernetes management because it can identify configuration problems and vulnerabilities while also assigning ownership to the team responsible for resolution.