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Simplify Policy Management with Rafay and OPA Gatekeeper

In a previous blog post, we described how OPA Gatekeeper can be leveraged to enforce policies and strengthen governance in Kubernetes environments. We also covered the challenges customers face when implementing OPA Gatekeeper at scale across many clusters. To summarize, these challenges broadly fall into two categories:

  1. Ongoing effort required to maintain a consistent policy configuration for entire fleets of clusters requires significant overhead to create, test, tune, deploy, and verify policies.
  2. Obtaining feedback and visibility into how clusters are faring against configured compliance policies regularly.

This post will describe how Rafay’s Kubernetes Operations Platform (KOP) can make it significantly easier to define and manage OPA Gatekeeper policies for Kubernetes using a policy-as-code approach. As deployments scale, the ability to rely on code-based automation to eliminate manual processes and enforce security and governance becomes critical to reduce the risks of human error. A platform like KOP provides tools for customers to natively support policy-as-code. By centralizing both the configurations and ongoing operations for OPA Gatekeeper policies, implementing the desired state with visibility and alerting for violations not only speeds up remediation, but dramatically simplifies kubernetes compliance.

1. Centralizing Governance through Cluster Blueprints

Rafay offers a Cluster Blueprint capability that allows centralized configurations for cluster standardization that can encompass security policies, software add-ons such as service mesh, ingress controllers, monitoring, logging and backup and restore strategies. For example, required controls and software components may vary across development, QA, and production departments. It is incredibly challenging, operationally cumbersome, error-prone, and time-consuming to do this manually. Blueprints address this challenge by ensuring that clusters are always in compliance. Rafay also offers drift detection to protect Blueprint configurations from manual, out-of-band changes (inadvertent or malicious).

Software components could be managed add-ons (e.g., OPA Gatekeeper) or custom add-ons. For add-ons like OPA Gatekeeper, Rafay manages the entire lifecycle, including deployment and updates across clusters.

2. Workflows to enable a Phased Approach for Policy Enforcement

OPA Gatekeeper policies are enforced through Constraints/ConstraintTemplates. When Constraints/ConstraintTemplates (policy controls) are defined and deployed to the cluster, OPA Gatekeeper validates resources during:

  1. Admission Requests: whenever a resource in the cluster is created, updated or deleted
  2. Audit Runs: periodic evaluation of already deployed resources

The enforcement action (for a policy violation) is specified as part of the Constraint spec with Dry Run, Warn and Deny being the available options.

Rafay’s KOP captures detailed audit logs for both Admission requests and Audit Runs making it easier for customers to adopt a crawl (Dry Run), walk (Warn) and run (Deny) approach to orchestrating new policies. On the screenshots below, you can see examples of how these violations are captured:

  • Dashboard: OPA Gatekeeper Policy Violations

  • Detailed Audit Logs: OPA Gatekeeper Policy Violations

3. Contextual Visibility into Policy Violations

In addition to surfacing violations in a user-friendly manner, Rafay’s KOP also enforces already defined role based access controls (RBAC) to enable selective access to violations. This means that a cluster or a namespace owner will only have visibility into violations for the resources they have been assigned to.

4. Regulatory Requirements

Detailed audit logs are captured for the creation/deployment of policies to clusters and the policy violations. This data can be sent to external monitoring systems (e.g., SIEM tools). In addition, all historical policies are maintained, and this can be used as proof to auditors that the appropriate controls are in place to meet organizational compliance requirements.

Rafay’s Kubernetes Operations Platform can help customers operationalize OPA Gatekeeper policies in minutes and altogether remove the need for any continual DIY investment. Policy Management is one of several services that Rafay’s Kubernetes Operations Platform offers, which means that the benefits go significantly over and beyond just managing Gatekeeper policies. If you are ready to leverage the real power of Kubernetes with a platform that provides best-in-class Policy Management capabilities, sign up for a free trial of Rafay today.

To learn more about OPA Gatekeeper and Rafay, check out our getting started guide and watch our OPA Gatekeeper demo.


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