Kubernetes has revolutionized the way organizations deploy and manage their applications and infrastructure. With its powerful orchestration capabilities, Kubernetes makes it easier to deploy, scale, and manage containerized applications. Enterprise platform engineering teams are increasingly building internal developer platforms using Kubernetes as the foundational technology. However, as Kubernetes infrastructure grows in size and complexity, it becomes challenging to manage it securely and efficiently. Platform engineering teams struggle to prevent cluster sprawl and it becomes challenging to ensure consistency across their fleet of clusters. This is where policy-as-code comes in, providing several benefits for Kubernetes clusters.
What is Policy-as-code?
Policy-as-code is a methodology that allows organizations to define, manage, and enforce policies as code. Policies define the desired behavior of the system, and policy-as-code tools i.e. policy engines enable organizations to enforce these policies automatically. In the context of Kubernetes, policy engines can help organizations ensure their Kubernetes clusters meet their security, compliance, and operational requirements.
Benefits of using Policy-as-code
Here are the top reasons why Kubernetes platform engineering teams are adopting policy-as-code:
- Security: Policy-as-code tools can help organizations enforce security policies, such as ensuring that only securely configured workloads are deployed to Kubernetes clusters.
- Automation: Policy engines automate the enforcement of policies, reducing the need for manual intervention. This automation saves time and eliminates the risk of human error.
- Compliance: Policy-as-code helps organizations ensure that their Kubernetes clusters meet regulatory compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR.
- Consistency: With policy-as-code, policies are defined once and enforced consistently across all Kubernetes clusters, ensuring that there are no inconsistencies or gaps in policy enforcement. When using a policy engine such as Kyverno, policies are defined as Kubernetes YAML manifests making them easier to deploy with the same tools that are used to deploy other Kubernetes resource manifests.
- Scalability: As Kubernetes clusters grow in size and complexity, it is very challenging to manage policies manually. Policy-as-code tools can help organizations scale their policy enforcement by automating the process.
- Standardization: Policy-as-code enables organizations to standardize their policy enforcement, ensuring that all Kubernetes clusters meet the same requirements.
- Auditing: Policy-as-code tools provide organizations with an audit trail of policy enforcement, making it easier to track policy violations and take corrective action. Storing policies in Git repositories also provide historic change information.
- Flexibility: Policy-as-code tools are flexible, allowing organizations to define policies that meet their specific requirements. For example, organizations can define policies that enforce specific labels or annotations on Kubernetes resources. Tools such as Kyverno also allow organizations to specify policy exceptions if needed for certain workloads.
- Collaboration: Policy-as-code tools enable teams to collaborate on policy definition and enforcement, ensuring that policies are aligned with organizational goals. Policies are often stored in Git repositories so developers can use tools that they are familiar with to request policy changes or exceptions.
- Faster Incident Response: Policy-as-code tools can help organizations respond to incidents faster by automating the detection and remediation of policy violations. In fact, policies can be applied in CI/CD pipelines so that violations are detected early and fixed before the workloads are deployed to Kubernetes clusters
Let’s look at an example of how policy-as-code can be used in Kubernetes. Suppose an organization has a policy that requires all Kubernetes deployments to have resource limits defined. Using a policy-as-code tool like Kyverno, the organization can define a policy that enforces this requirement. Kyverno can automatically reject any Kubernetes deployment that does not have resource limits defined, ensuring that all deployments meet the organization’s policy.
Policy-as-code provides several benefits for Kubernetes-based platforms, including automation, consistency, scalability, standardization, compliance, security, auditing, flexibility, collaboration, and faster incident response. By adopting policy-as-code, organizations can ensure that their Kubernetes-based platforms meet their security, compliance, and operational requirements, enabling them to focus on rapidly delivering value to their customers.
To know more about Kubernetes policies, and policy-as-code, please download this free ebook– Policy-based security and governance for Kubernetes.