Top 5 Challenges Kubernetes User Faces and Their Solutions

middleware team

MW Team

August 24, 2021

Top 5 Challenges Kubernetes User Faces and Their Solutions

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Kubernetes or K8s, as you know, is an open-source container orchestration system that is used for automating computer application scaling, management, and deployment. Designed by Google and maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Kubernetes is the solution of choice for many developers.

It can prove to be the ideal solution for most problems related to the delivery of microservice applications. However, it comes with its own challenges that may prove to be roadblocks for users.

According to popular surveys and reports, Kubernetes challenges generally come in areas like security, networking, deployment, scaling, vendor support, etc. With a variation in usage and function patterns, the challenges may vary for specific users. But, most of the hurdles can be classified under these categories.

While some of these challenges may be typical of all technological platforms, some turn out to be unique to Kubernetes. They arrive at the forefront during setup and management and can hamper daily tasks if not addressed efficiently.

Thus, it is crucial to pick a suitable container orchestration solution after considering all criteria and identifying which factors to be addressed before adopting Kubernetes. The most important thing to be noted is that usage of Kubernetes often requires changes in roles and responsibilities of multiple departments under the IT organization. Hence, it must go through an organization-wide settle-in period to handle the learning curve.

It also affects cloud systems and on-premise systems differently. Organizations with exclusively on-prem servers face deployment issues that the public cloud may not experience. Similarly, security might pose a bigger risk in the cloud as compared to on-prem.

With regular observations and surveys, we can figure out the most common Kubernetes challenges that users face and arrive at their solutions.

5 Kubernetes Challenges and Solutions

Security

Security is one of the biggest challenges of Kubernetes, owing to its complex and vulnerable nature. If not monitored properly, it can become a big issue in pointing out vulnerabilities. Since you have multiple containers deployed, it becomes tough to investigate vulnerabilities, which gives outsiders an easy way to breach your system.

One example of this breach was back in 2018 when Tesla’s Kubernetes admin console was infiltrated by hackers. This led to the mining of cryptocurrencies by Tesla’s cloud resources on AWS. To avoid these kinds of security challenges, there are a few things you can do.

Solution

Kubernetes container orchestration security can be enhanced through a few measures.

  • You can enhance security through modules like AppArmor and SELinux.
  • Arguably, the simplest way is to enable RABC (role-based access control). This works by making authentication compulsory for every user and regulating the data each person can access. Based on their role, they can be grant specific access permissions.
  • Another way to ensure security is separate containers. For instance, a front end or user container and a backend container. If these two are separated with regulated interaction, the private key is hidden for maximum security.

Networking

Traditional networking approaches are not very compatible with Kubernetes. Hence, the challenges keep increasing with the scale of deployment. Some problem areas include complexity and multi-tenancy. 

  • If deployment involves more than one cloud infrastructure, Kubernetes becomes more complex. The same happens when there are mixed workloads from different architectures, like VM and Kubernetes.
  • Some addressing challenges may occur due to static IP addresses and ports on Kubernetes. Since pods can use an infinite number of IPs in one workload, implementing IP-based policies may be challenging.
  • Multi-tenancy problems arise when there are multiple workloads sharing resources. It affects other workloads in the same environment if resource allocation is not done properly.

Solution

Networking challenges can be solved by implementing the container network interface (CNI) plug-in. It allows Kubernetes to integrate smoothly with the infrastructure and access applications on different platforms.

You can also use service mesh to solve this issue. A service mesh is an infrastructure layer inserted into an app, which handles the network-based inter-communication using APIs. It also allows developers to be stress-free about networking and deployment. 

These solutions make container communication smooth, fast, and secure, thus leading to a seamless container orchestration process.

You can also use delivery management platforms to perform activities like manage Kubernetes clusters and logs, and ensure full observability.

Kubernetes challenges

Source

Interoperability

Just like networking, interoperability can sometimes become a problem with Kubernetes. While enabling interoperable cloud-native apps on Kubernetes, communication between the apps can be a little tricky. It also affects the deployment of clusters as the app instances included can have trouble running on individual nodes in the cluster.

Kubernetes does not work as well in production as it does in development, QA, or staging. After all these stages, when you migrate to an enterprise-grade production environment, it leads to many complexities of performance, governance, and interoperability.

Solution

Some steps can be implemented to reduce interoperability challenges in Kubernetes.

  • Using the same API, user interface, and command line can help reduce this issue to some extent.
  • Kubernetes’ interoperability movement is fueling, which is good news for users facing production problems.
  • You can enable interoperable cloud-native apps through the Open Service Broker API to increase portability across offerings and vendors.
  • Collaborative projects across multiple organizations (like Google, Red Hat, SAP, IBM, etc.) can aid in delivering services to apps running with cloud-native platforms.

Storage

Storage can be a problem with Kubernetes for larger organizations, especially for organizations that use on-premises servers. One of the reasons for this is that they manage their entire storage infrastructure, without relying on any cloud resources. This may lead to vulnerabilities, storage crises, and so on.

Even if the infrastructure is handled by a separate IT team, a growing organization would find it difficult to handle storage. The New Stack Analysis of Cloud Native Computing Foundation Survey in 2017 stated that of all organizations deploying containers on on-premises servers, 54% identified storage as a challenge.

Solution

The most permanent solution for storage issues is to move to a public cloud environment and reduce dependency on on-prem servers. Some other things you can do include opting for temporary storage options.

  • Ephemeral storage can be a savior. It refers to the volatile temporary storage that can be attached to your instances during their lifetime. It can be used to store data like cache, session data, swap volume, buffers, etc.
  • Persistent storage or storage volumes can be associated with stateful applications like databases. They can also be used after the individual container’s lifetime is over.
  • Other solutions to storage and scale issues can be persistent volume claims, storage, classes, and stateful sets.

Scaling

Any organization aims towards increasing the scale of operations over time. If their infrastructure is ill-equipped to handle scaling, it can be a huge drawback. Since Kubernetes microservices deployments are complex and involve generating a lot of data, it can become a major task to diagnose and troubleshoot any form of issue.

security is top challenge for kubernetes users

Source

Without the help of automation, this task may prove to be impossible. For any organization that works in real-time or with mission-critical applications, outages can prove to be highly detrimental to revenue and user experience. The same goes for customer-facing services that depend on Kubernetes.

The application density and dynamic nature of the computing environment only make the problem worse for a few organizations. Some issues include:

  • Difficulty in managing multiple clouds, clusters, set users, or set policies
  • Complexity in installation and configuration
  • Differences in user experience, depending on the environment they are using

Another issue with scaling is that the Kubernetes infrastructure might not play well with the other tools. With errors in integration, the expansion would be a tough feat to achieve.

Solution

Luckily, there are a few ways to deal with the scaling problem in Kubernetes. One of them is using the autoscaling/v2beta2 API version that lets you specify multiple metrics for the Horizontal Pod Autoscaler to scale on.

If this does not solve your problem, you can choose an open-source container manager that runs Kubernetes in production. It helps manage and scale applications, irrespective of whether they are hosted on the cloud or on-prem. Some features of these container managers include:

  • Common infrastructure management across clusters and clouds
  • Easy-to-use interface for configuration and deployment
  • Pods and clusters that are easy to scale 
  • Management of workload, RBAC, and project policies

Conclusion

As a solution, Kubernetes helps you to manage and scale the deployments of containers, nodes, and clusters. Hence, it is obvious that there will be some challenges in management and scaling across cloud providers. If you can overcome these challenges and make an effective plan specific to your problem areas, Kubernetes gives you a simple and declarative model for programming complex deployments.

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