How to Successfully Migrate from OPA to Kyverno

How to Successfully Migrate from OPA to Kyverno

Gatekeeper vs Kyverno or Kyverno vs OPA – Kyverno wins the day! - image

Pandora’s box of multi-cloud application environments has been opened in the cloud services industry, and there’s no turning back now. Enterprises looking to scale rapidly simply cannot pass up the freedom and flexibility that application containerization affords. Unfortunately, the flip side of this CI/CD tradeoff is that properly securing container management systems like Kubernetes is difficult. There are simply too many cooks in the kitchen and too few regulations surrounding what they can access. This is why policy management engines have become indispensable to enterprise success. 

Policy engines, or Policy-as-code (PaC), allow for the conversion of high-level policies into text files for implementation and automation across vast multi-cloud application environments. These text files can be applied across the entirety of your clusters or targeted towards a specific container and application. Every aspect of DevOps can be influenced through the use of PaC solutions, from version and access controls down to automated testing and deployment.

Kyverno vs OPA (Open Policy Agent)

The rise in popularity of the container management system Kubernetes has created two front-runners in the battle for PaC solution supremacy. One solution has been available for many years and has a strong foundation of support and use cases to assist with implementing its custom language – Open Policy Agent, or OPA. The other is newer to the game and has specifically set its sights on enterprises that use Kubernetes extensively for their cloud services. The PaC competition at this point has essentially been reduced to Kyverno vs OPA


Open Policy Agent is the wily veteran of the policy management space. As the name suggests, this policy engine is open-source and can be used generally across platforms through a custom language called Rego. This language allows enterprises with diverse container management needs and solutions to apply OPA policies across their cloud services environments. Unfortunately, Rego is notoriously difficult to learn and requires DevOps teams to invest in the learning, development, and implementation of a whole new coding language. Though they do have a Kubernetes-specific solution called Gatekeeper, Open Policy Agent is a more generalist solution and can run into difficulties when it comes to managing policies in environments that are exclusively run on Kubernetes.


Kyverno is a more recent policy engine. It is an open-source project governed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and donated by Nirmata. Kyverno has the same policy validation and mutation capabilities as Open Policy Agent and provides an additional resource generation feature that allows for the creation of fine-grained policy resources. Alongside these powerful new features, Kyverno has the key benefit of being Kubernetes-native. This means that your DevOps teams don’t need to learn any additional language to apply your company’s policies across cloud services environments.   

While Open Policy Agent remains a popular PaC option for enterprises with diverse container management systems, Kyverno is quickly taking over alongside the increased adoption of Kubernetes. With the CNCF and many other industry leaders adopting Kubernetes, other firms are increasingly following suit. 

If you’re looking to adopt a Kubernetes-native PaC solution for your cloud services container management, here are some key steps to a successful migration from OPA/Gatekeeper to Kyverno.

Successful Migration from OPA to Kyverno

Cloud services migrations are a stressful time for firms of any size. Thankfully, when it comes time to migrate the policy management of your Kubernetes clusters from OPA to Kyverno, your CTO and DevOps teams can take solace in the fact that there are no additional language requirements. As long as everything is backed up and all relevant protocols applied across the company, the process of migrating to Kyverno from Open Policy Agent is relatively straightforward. Here are some of the important steps to achieving a successful policy management migration. 

Proper Translation from Rego 

One of the most important aspects of your policy engine migration is ensuring that your OPA Rego policies are properly translated into Kubernetes-native policies. Whether you have a dedicated team of Rego experts within your DevOps or need to outsource to specialists, it’s crucial that all policy management functions are transferred over to Kyverno. Since not every Rego policy applies to Kubernetes, having experts that can identify the policies that are Kubernetes relevant is essential in order to maintain your enterprise’s efficient and secure cloud services environment. In fact, it is extremely likely that a Kyverno policy already exists for your corresponding OPA policy. Check out the Kyverno policy repository.

Incorporate Kyverno’s Additional Features

As outlined earlier, Kyverno allows for extended policy management functions like resource generation and API object hookups. Your previous OPA policies will cover the validation and mutation needs of your multi-cloud application environment, but now you can bolster policy management with Kyverno’s enhanced functionality. With Kyverno, your DevOps teams can automate the generation of supplementary resources after every new policy update.

Stakeholder Collaboration 

It’s imperative that multiple stakeholders from security, IT, and the C Suite come together to ensure that your Kubernetes clusters are being properly secured and optimized by the addition of Kyverno. Because each application, container, and cluster can now have specific, Kubernetes-native policies applied to them, all existing resources should be reverified, and new resources must be developed. This collaboration between stakeholders from across the organizational hierarchy increases the likelihood that your vast cloud services network is correctly moved from Open Policy Agent over to Kyverno. 

If you have any more questions about how to successfully migrate your policy management over to a Kubernetes-native code, or want more information on the Kyverno vs. OPA debate, reach out to Nirmata today. Our team of container management experts is well-versed in the use of Kubernetes-native programming and has made massive contributions to the industry. Our work is world-renowned and has been highlighted by the CNCF and multiple other industry-leading enterprises. 

Learn more about Kyverno for Kubernetes configuration security in this blog post.

Discover more on why, when it’s Kyverno vs OPA, Kyverno wins the OPA/Gatekeeper vs Kyverno competition – in this blog post.

Link to:

Kubernetes Supply Chain Policy Management with Cosign and Kyverno
Kyverno: The versatile solution for Kubernetes configuration security
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