Gearing Up for the Unexpected: 3 Common Challenges to Expect From Kubernetes

If you’re in the process of deploying containers and managing existing clusters, Kubernetes may be the long-awaited salve for common scaling woes.  For those unfamiliar, Kubernetes distributions like these are an open-source development tool that

If you’re in the process of deploying containers and managing existing clusters, Kubernetes may be the long-awaited salve for common scaling woes. 

For those unfamiliar, Kubernetes distributions like these are an open-source development tool that works best for cloud-based services and organizations that want to implement continuous delivery. According to Google, the objective of continuous delivery is to release software efficiently and sustainably. However, despite the recent meteoric and wide adoption of Kubernetes, there are several challenges with Kubernetes that developers face.

If you’re willing to travel the winding road to less costly deployment models, better management via modularity, and reduced dependency on the underlying infrastructure, brace yourself for the challenges characteristic of Kubernetes ahead. 

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes has become an attractive DevOps tool because it allows companies to react quickly and in real-time. With built-in continuous delivery, developers can release code whenever they need to. Cloud-based services and applications that deliver information and capabilities at the moment are necessary for today’s business environment. Not only are customers demanding more, but so are employees. 

Remote and hybrid work arrangements have necessitated cloud-based applications so that employees can still collaborate from different locations. However, clients who may want immediate answers and solutions can’t get that if a business is still running only legacy applications. 

Kubernetes can automate the necessary background processes for applications that are hosted on separate servers. As a result, containerized applications can travel back and forth between multiple servers without a significant degree of human intervention. Kubernetes allocates the correct amount of resources, such as memory, that applications need. The tool also manages the assignment of IP addresses and how information travels through various points on the network. 

What are the main challenges with Kubernetes? 

The challenges with using Kubernetes as a DevOps tool are related to security, internal resources, and the ability or need to use the tool to scale. IT leaders can solve some of these challenges by training their staff and understanding the full capabilities of Kubernetes. The challenges related to scale require an honest evaluation of what an organization does and how many internal and external customers it needs to serve. 

Dealing with security challenges

One of the significant security challenges associated with Kubernetes has to do with the tool’s default features. It’s critical to understand what features the tool has turned on and off automatically. Due to the plethora of available features, it can be challenging to comprehend the resources within an IT department’s grasp. 

Some security features that can better manage clusters may still be in beta form and are not turned on automatically. However, an organization might need this level of security to protect its data and network from unauthorized access. A good resource is the Center for Internet Security’s configuration guidelines. These guidelines include instructions for setting security features within Kubernetes to give a company solid protection. 

Having a set of guidelines and instructions to refer to can be invaluable, especially if the IT staff is relatively new to Kubernetes. It may also be beneficial to seek assistance from outside vendors that have a greater level of expertise. 

In addition to enabling and configuring security features, there is the challenge of deciding what workloads should run on different clusters. Configuring workloads and managing them on various clusters can lead to chaos-inducing scenarios unable to be resolved with application provisioning tools. Fortunately, turning on features like resource quotas and network policies related to cluster segmentation can help in times of crisis.

Once the configuration is finalized, conducting a security audit can identify weak points, along with policies and features that staff may need to implement. For security audits, employees may want to reach out to a firm specializing in cybersecurity so that they don’t make the mistake of overlooking their blindspots. 

Handling resource challenges

Dealing with internal staff challenges can often be like trying to climb up a steep mountain. It takes time and steady persistence to reach a destination. Unfortunately, there are only so many tools to deal with challenges related to the big picture. 

Some of the difficulties have to do with individual staff skill sets and knowledge. Others have to do with the capabilities of the group. An organization may have more to do than the number of employees can handle. In some cases, it’s the physical resources and tools an organization has (or doesn’t have) at its disposal that are causing problems. 

Dealing with skill sets and knowledge requires the willingness to step back and assess. Solicit feedback from employees on what they’re comfortable with and what frustrates them. Remember that not all employees may feel safe enough to open up if there is no clear communication about why feedback is necessary. Thoroughly explain the purpose, how the input will serve the company and department’s mission, and assure them that these constructive criticisms will not be used against them. 

Staff may bring up challenges with Kubernetes that training can address. Bringing in trainers who are well-versed in configuration and development challenges can work. When in-person training sessions aren’t possible, turn to online courses and webinars. See if there are self-paced resources employees can utilize during downtime or designated training hours. 

In some cases, it may be advantageous to expand the IT department. For example, hiring employees who are already skilled in Kubernetes could complement the knowledge of the existing staff. However, avoid placing the entire burden of training veteran staff on new employees, as offloading these training possibilities can stir animosity and distrust amongst the team. 

As a solution, hire external vendors to handle some of the workload demand is another solution. Vendors can take over some of the responsibilities that are related or unrelated to the deployment of Kubernetes. 

Assessing your operational needs

Despite the buzz, Kubernetes is not for every company. Organizations that operate on a smaller scale may find it incredibly challenging to configure and manage the tool. If a company has multiple locations and needs to run lots of web-based applications and servers, Kubernetes will be an invaluable tool. But with companies that don’t need to operate at this level, it may be better to research alternatives that are easier to manage and capable of meeting simple needs. 

Final thoughts

As a DevOps tool, Kubernetes has enormous potential. With the proper skill set and knowledge, organizations can overcome security, resource, and operational challenges.