2020 has been a challenging year for many companies due to the global pandemic, which has had a varying impact on businesses. The software technology industry, for the most part, has been able to react faster to the changing landscape, with many verticals witnessing incredible levels of innovation. Rafay has been part of the latter this year, with our SaaS offering for Kubernetes management and operations. Because of application modernization initiatives being fast-tracked at so many technology-focused companies, we’ve had a busy 2020. Based on our experience working with dozens of enterprises over the past year, here’s a look at several themes we expect to drive important initiatives in the DevOps and Kubernetes world in 2021.
More K8s Security Breaches on the Front Page
Kubernetes projects seem to be moving en masse from labs to production, sometimes without the proper security measures in place. Combine this with widespread adoption and new vulnerabilities, we’re collectively making it easier for attackers to use Kubernetes as the point of penetration. Companies such as Capital One and Tesla have made front-page news, but not for good reasons. Each was attacked as a result of misconfigurations in their K8s infrastructure.
In 2021, attack vectors will only increase as companies move from hybrid environments to multi-cloud and the number of application clusters multiply with the growth of edge computing.
Kubernetes managers will need to be quick studies of security concepts and work alongside their CISO’s team to rapidly apply security best practices. They will also need to leverage tools that bolster and automate infrastructure and control plane security for their mission-critical K8s clusters.
The Evolution from Single- to Multi-Cloud Environments
Companies that have moved to the cloud years ago have employed what is called a hybrid strategy. That is, their environment spans an on-premise data center as well as one cloud provider.
However, because of specific application requirements, mergers and acquisitions, and CSPs’ race for differentiated features, companies are now running multi-cloud environments. In fact, in a recent Gartner survey of public cloud users, 81% of respondents said they are working with two or more cloud service providers.
What does this mean for enterprises in 2021? Certainly not fewer K8s clusters, that’s for sure. Enterprises need to build new processes and tooling to manage the lifecycle of K8s clusters and modern apps, as well as simplify compliance and control across multiple CSP environments.
GitOps Automation Everywhere
A relatively new entrant to the DevOps workflow is GitOps. With GitOps, a Git repository becomes the declarative single source of truth for defining, creating and updating a company’s architecture. In the GitOps model, when changes are made to the Git repository, code is pushed to (or rolled back from) the production infrastructure, thus automating deployments quickly and reliably. This same paradigm can be used for applications, server infrastructure and even Kubernetes clusters.
Given the complexity of hybrid, multi-cloud, and edge application deployments, Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, among others, have announced support for the paradigm. Look for more cloud service providers and other infrastructure technology providers to announce support in 2021.
Service Mesh Becomes the MO
IT professionals understand that technologies, and exactly where they reside in the technology stack, evolve over time. And in 2021, the service mesh is poised to become a key enabler for application security and monitoring. Although enterprises have been talking about this idea for a couple of years, with microservices being built across the board in many enterprises, service meshes will become key components of the modern application infrastructure.
Why is a service mesh important? Well, if you are building applications on top of Kubernetes clusters, then the standard, yet ubiquitous, features that a service mesh provides doesn’t need to be built and replicated within each application. It’s simply baked within the platform for ALL applications to leverage.
It’s a win-win in 2021: developers can solely focus on their application logic while platform architects can focus on the supporting technologies. This means application development and deployment can be done much more quickly and support processes can become much more efficient.
The Rise of the KubeMaster
In the 90s, the new job function titled WebMaster was created. WebMasters were individuals with the cross-technology experience — such as web hosting, CGI, digital certificates, client-side scripting, etc. — required to manage a successful website.
Going forward, we should expect a new job function to materialize called KubeMaster. Similar to a WebMaster, this role will go beyond what is required to be a certified Kubernetes admin (CKA) — or a web developer back in the day — and will require the individual to have a deep understanding of K8s internals, expertise in the surrounding K8s technology ecosystem, prowess in K8s security, and knowledge of how to operationally scale.
Becoming a KubeMaster will be no small task, and may take years of experience. Why? Because this role needs to be a jack-of-all-trades related to the orchestration of modern applications. This includes but is not limited to:
- Application Operations: managing and automating CI/CD pipelines and GitOps deployment for dozens of application environments
- Cluster Operations: provisioning, upgrading both clusters and the K8s technology ecosystem that is required (e.g., Hashicorp Vault)
- Securing the K8s Infrastructure: managing SSO, RBAC to kubectl as well as network security and secret management
- Support, Monitoring & Logging: managing, alerts & notifications, integrating with external log aggregators and triaging bugs/errors with operations and engineering
- Compliance: Ensuring compliance with internal policies & external regulations and supporting periodic audits
Stay tuned for more education and insights from successful KubeMasters in 2021!
Looking Ahead to 2021
I’m sure we speak for everyone by wishing the world a much better 2021. In today’s competitive (and global) environment, business models evolve quickly and the technology that supports them needs to evolve just as fast. Predicting the future is incredibly difficult. But given our collective experience in the modern application infrastructure space, we’re confident that the trends above will have a big influence on 2021. If you violently agree or disagree with the above, let’s chat.