Open standards can make or break a Kubernetes implementation
Adopting open standards for Kubernetes is relatively easy to do. Maintaining these standards, however, requires your team to be active and vigilant. To implement open standards correctly, DevOps teams need to appraise the existing standards, understand how they can lapse within an organisation, and appreciate the importance of working with the open source community to create and maintain the standards.
Kubernetes has emerged as the backbone for cloud-native infrastructure, with it now running nearly nine out of every ten container clusters. Since Kubernetes is now entrenched in the industry, the concern of DevOps teams is how to ensure that their way of implementing Kubernetes is integratable, delivers what is needed for use cases, and is aligned with industry practices.
Open standards, which serve to codify the best practices for implementing Kubernetes, play a vital role in supporting this implementation. Sticking to these standards can help protect teams from hitting unforeseen barriers in their implementation, while also guaranteeing the smoothest learning curve for new members of the team. Open standards are set by the open source Kubernetes community, rather than by one particular vendor, ensuring greater efficiency, avoidance of vendor lock-in, as well as easier integration of other software into the technology stack.
To implement open standards correctly, DevOps teams need to appraise the existing standards, understand how they can lapse within an organisation, and appreciate the importance of working with the open source community to create and maintain the standards.
Making sense of the standards
There are two organisations, familiar to most vendors and developers, that are responsible for setting the key open standards regulating the use of Kubernetes and containers. The first is the Open Container Initiative, which has developed container runtime and image requirements, and governs how containers should be configured and launched.
The second is the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, an organisation that supports the cloud native ecosystem. It is also responsible for operating the Certified Kubernetes Conformance Program, which reviews vendor products to ensure their Kubernetes distribution meets a set of key delivery requirements.
Ensuring that the items in your stack comply with the CNCF guidelines is the best way to guarantee that everything in your Kubernetes and cloud native deployment works the way it should. CNCF conformance also helps to guide you in developing a fully cloud-native infrastructure, adding in components such as a microservices architecture, APIs and service meshes into your environment.
Prevent standards from fragmenting
Making sure your deployment of Kubernetes conforms to the above standards is dependent on your team’s shared understanding of what your own deployment should look like. One of the most common ways that organisations can undermine this is by deploying more than one Kubernetes stack, which aren’t compatible with one another or consistent with the standards.
One reason why this contributes to a deterioration of organisational standards is because it encourages the dispersal or siloing of knowledge between teams working on different stacks. This means that deviations from standards in one stack might not be spotted by another team.
Also, once there are divergent Kubernetes stacks within an organisation, it can be hard for one person to track the development of each of them, which means that monitoring for standards can fall by the wayside. This can be the case even if one assigns a dedicated team to track the development of the stacks. Missing even a few small but important details can quickly snowball into outright fragmentation of standards within an organisation.
Reach out to Kubernetes’ open source community
Kubernetes is an open source project, and the guidelines set by the OCI and CNCF are derived from discussions held across that community. This means that understanding what is being debated within the community and the issues being raised by developers is crucial to understanding how the specifications for Kubernetes and its ecosystem are being formally and informally established.
The open source community, along with serving as a source of formal standards, also offers the opportunity to learn what a successful implementation looks like from other teams. It’s a chance for your team to pick up on the informal best practices others have implemented within their own organisations, including how best to integrate it with other community-produced software.
Adopting open standards for Kubernetes is relatively easy to do. Maintaining these standards, however, requires your team to be active and vigilant. You need to be observant as to the development of your own tech stack while also keeping an eye on conversations in the open source community about what the best practices of today and tomorrow are.