Common Ways to Optimize Kyverno Policy Engine

Common Ways to Optimize Kyverno Policy Engine


The cognitive overload of container management is a well-documented pain point within the use of multi-cloud container environments. For all the benefits that Kubernetes’ flexible and extensible function brings to the multi-cloud space, there are still numerous concerns regarding its use at the enterprise level. Mainly security and the rapidly-increasing complexity of configuration management

Kubernetes is versatile in connecting multiple platforms and applications. As a result, these environments have numerous access points, all of which need to be regulated by features like role-based access controls to prevent too many cooks in the kitchen. 

On the other hand, the sheer complexity of Kubernetes environments at the enterprise level is enough to cause headaches for even the most experienced DevOps personnel. There is a huge technical debt to adequately understand the various frameworks, tools, and languages used across the multi-cloud environment. From a governance perspective, each component must be regulated by a policy to ensure that functionality, security, and simplicity (if it can even be called that) is maintained. 

Some of the specific challenges that companies experience during their day-2 Kubernetes operations include:

  • Leveraging metadata annotation for pods and other container components
  • Creating role-based access controls at the resource level, also known as resource padlocks
  • Fully functional namespace provisioning across multi-cloud and -tenant environments.

Kyverno, an open-source project created by container experts Nirmata, is a Kubernetes-native policy engine that simplifies policy management functions in Kubernetes environments. Workers who develop, operate, and secure Kubernetes containers are better served by Kyverno than other policy engines because there is no need to learn a new language. The engine also has extended functionality.

Kyverno Policy Engine

Nirmata developed Kyverno to reduce the complexity of Kubernetes policy management. The adoption of Kyverno is skyrocketing since it’s open-source release by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation late last year. Because of this, it’s now the leading container policy engine for enterprises around the world. Essentially, Kyverno creates and enforces the rules and regulations (called policies) that determine what functions the Kubernetes system and its users can carry out. Kyverno also allows companies to change these rules when necessary and even create new ones to accommodate the ever-changing Kubernetes environment. 


The three core functionalities of this Kubernetes-native policy engine are helping DevSecOps teams worldwide address the issues above with container management. 

Validation Validation rules are the most common, practical tool that Kyverno offers. They allow DevSecOps teams to define everything required for the creation of a new policy resource. New resources that do not meet the validation standards are blocked, ensuring that all policies are relevant and functional. 

Mutation — Sometimes, resources need modification to match the constantly changing needs of a Kubernetes environment. Mutation rules make this process easier and reduce the probability of a resulting error. 

Generation Generate rules are unique to the Kyverno policy engine and allow DevSecOps teams to create additional resources required for application security and governance. Automating this process ensures that the applications are always compliant and secure. 

Individually, each of these functions is crucial to maintaining a healthy and secure Kubernetes environment. But by combining all three into a native-language engine, Kyverno makes it much easier to navigate the issues surrounding configuration management, load balancing, resource padlocking, and namespace provisioning. Unfortunately, many DevSecOps teams that utilize Kyverno as their policy engine are not necessarily experienced enough or encouraged by leadership to implement validation, mutation, and generation functions optimally. 

Policy Management Best Practices

When it comes to best practices for Kubernetes policy management, there are some key actions that enterprises need to take after implementing Kyverno. Because of the open-ended nature of the Kubernetes environment, countless policies need to be enacted up, down, and across the multi-cloud environment hierarchy. These will reduce the likelihood of user error, security breaches, and cognitive load for DevSecOps while improving the system’s efficacy overall.

To improve the use of Kyverno in enterprise multi-cloud application environments, here are some of the policy management best practices of which industry stakeholders and decision-makers need to be aware.  

Namespace Provisioning 

Namespace provisioning is one of the most important—but also most complicated—aspects of safely hosting a high volume of users on a Kubernetes cluster. By default, namespaces include NetworkPolicies, Role-Based Access Control, and other resources relevant to secure governance. That’s why it’s so critical that DevSecOps teams provision their namespaces properly. 

Resource Annotation 

We live in the era of big data. Enterprises are collecting terabytes of data at an unimaginable rate thanks to digital infrastructure, and this data is essential to success. For Kubernetes environments, the metadata is also crucial as it can help direct digital processes. Annotations provide this information, and Kyverno’s mutation function allows companies to replace their custom annotation systems through simplified automation. 

Resource Padlock 

Role-Based Access Controls are highly beneficial in maintaining namespace security. Unfortunately, they cannot provide fine-grained resource-level access within a given namespace—it’s all-or-nothing. But, when properly applied, Kyverno allows enterprises to offer lower-level access controls, reducing the likelihood of common RBAC errors. 

Many Kyverno users are also unaware that the tool can simplify both Roles and ClusterRoles by creating resource padlocks. This essentially extends RBAC capabilities to the resource level, providing more flexibility and protection for internal and external users. 

In addition to these major Kyverno best practices, enterprise DevSecOps teams and other stakeholders need to be aware of other policy management best practices. These include the use of sidecars, copying and synching of secrets, and, of course, staying abreast of new developments in Kyverno’s functionality. 

To learn more about how your team can optimize their policy management through the use of Kyverno, contact the container software experts at Nirmata today. In addition to developing the popular Kubernetes-native policy engine, the Nirmata team provides cloud strategy services to multiple large-scale organizations, gaining ground-level insights into the complex world of container management. 


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