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Multicloud Kubernetes: Centralizing Multicloud Management

Multicloud is a cloud architecture composed of more than one cloud vendor, possibly in combination with private cloud or on-premise resources. Organizations prefer a multicloud deployment because it enables them to avoid vendor lock-in, reduce costs and enjoy the relative benefits of different cloud providers. Multicloud storage can help reduce storage costs and improve interoperability between services running in different clouds. 

However, multicloud architectures are extremely complex and difficult to monitor and manage. Kubernetes multicloud enables organizations to centralize multicloud management, making it practical and efficient.

In this post, we’ll examine the main use cases and best practices of multicloud Kubernetes, and show how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help optimize Kubernetes storage for multicloud deployments.

In this article, you will learn:

What Is Multicloud Kubernetes?

Multicloud Kubernetes is the deployment of Kubernetes over multiple cloud services and providers. Kubernetes can also be a way for organizations to efficiently manage multicloud architectures.

Most enterprises are already using a multicloud strategy. By combining cloud services, organizations can choose the best services for them at the lowest cost. However, multicloud can get complex, and this is where Kubernetes comes in. By standardizing workloads on Kubernetes, and leveraging Kubernetes features like Federation, organizations can deploy large scale workloads on multiple clouds with central control.

Multicloud Kubernetes Use Cases

There are many reasons an organization might adopt a multicloud Kubernetes deployment. Below are a few of the most common reasons.

1. Cloud bursting

Cloud bursting traditionally referred to the use of cloud resources to cover excess workload demands, beyond the capacity of on-premise systems. In a multicloud infrastructure, “bursting” involves using resources from one cloud to supplement the resources of another. This is needed when one cloud offers a better solution, or lower costs for high performance or high throughput workloads.

2. Disaster recovery, backup, and archive

You can use multicloud resources for disaster recovery to achieve greater resilience and availability than in a single cloud infrastructure. By spreading recovery resources across clouds, you reduce the chances that a cloud vendor becomes your single point of failure.

In this type of setup, one cluster is typically responsible for read/write operations and secondary clusters may be read-only. If a host goes down, workloads can be failed over to the recovery resource on another provider.

3. Multi-site active-active

An active-active configuration is similar to a disaster recovery or backup configuration with the exception that all clusters are read/write. This enables you to keep clusters synchronized in real-time and to distribute workloads continuously and immediately. This method is useful for mission-critical applications and services, such as user validation.

How Kubernetes Can Address Multicloud Challenges

Kubernetes can help you manage your multicloud infrastructures and successfully address any challenges that arise. Some of the most common challenges you might face are addressed here.

Provisioning Multicloud Systems

Provisioning resources in a multicloud system can be a challenge since there is often not a single tool you can use. Public cloud vendors do often have proprietary tools available to help you automate the process within their cloud. However, you can typically only use these tools with the specific provider supplying the tool.

Alternatively, you can use third-party provisioning tools, such as Ansible or Terraform. However, these often still require manual customizations for each cloud provider. In contrast, Kubernetes hosted workloads are uniform across cloud vendors. This enables you to use the same configuration regardless of the host. Additionally, since Kubernetes configurations are defined as code, you benefit from consistent efficiency and Kubernetes-driven automation during the provisioning process.

Multicloud Monitoring

Like provisioning, in a multicloud you need to find a way to incorporate the monitoring capabilities of a range of vendors. This is true even if you use third-party application performance management (APM) tools.

In contrast, when you run all your workloads in Kubernetes, you can focus your efforts on monitoring Kubernetes. This is relatively simple since the platform already supplies accessible metrics for most of your monitoring needs.

Multicloud Security

A multicloud infrastructure has a larger attack surface than a single cloud and more opportunities for configuration errors. While Kubernetes cannot eliminate the need to ensure that your host resources are properly secured, it can simplify application security. It does this by standardizing your configurations and providing visibility across your workloads.

Additionally, Kubernetes grants access to native features that supplement your security toolkit. These features include role-based access control (RBAC), network policies, and pod security policies.

Multicloud Cost Control

Multicloud can help you save on costs but can also provide more opportunities for costs to rack up. Arguably, the same can be true of Kubernetes, however, it is generally easier to control and manage Kubernetes resource use. Standardized, automated provisioning helps ensure that resources are not wasted or forgotten about, both of which increase costs. Additionally, if you are using a managed Kubernetes solution, the pricing is often clearer than that of cloud vendors.

Best Practices for Managing Multicloud Kubernetes

There are several best practices you can follow that will make the management of your multicloud Kubernetes deployment easier. Below are some of the most important.

Cluster configuration
Multicloud deployments require multiple nodes but beyond that, the cluster configuration is up to you. One option is to set up a single Kubernetes cluster with worker and master nodes in separate cloud services.

Another multicloud deployment option is to configure multiple, highly-available clusters that each operate in a separate cloud service. The option you choose should be dictated by your service needs and performance requirements.

Environment parity
Try to keep your various staging, development, and production environments as similar as possible to minimize compatibility issues. Using a GitOps model, you can leverage the declarative nature of Kubernetes to minimize inconsistencies. Git enables you to automatically push configuration changes across your clusters.

To further limit any issues you may face, consider choosing a common OS for your containers. Although this prevents you from using cloud-specific operating systems, it ensures more consistent Kubernetes configurations.

Kubernetes automation
Although you can configure and deploy Kubernetes from scratch, you are more likely to run into issues if you do. Rather, you should automate this process as much as possible to ensure uniformity. This is especially important for continuous delivery across multiple cloud services.

Security
Multicloud environments require you to detect and respond to security threats across clouds, simultaneously. This requires visibility and centralized detection and management engines. System information and event management (SIEM) solutions that can ingest data from multiple providers are ideal for this purpose.

What Is Google Anthos?

Anthos is Google’s major new offering for multicloud Kubernetes. It is an open-source platform for hybrid and multicloud applications. You can use it to modernize legacy applications or build new applications to run in the cloud.  

Anthos was created by Google and is based on a number of open-source technologies, including Istio, Knative, and Kubernetes. It also integrates Velostrata, the industry's first physical-to-Kubernetes (P2K) migration tool.

Anthos is designed to create consistency between on-premise and cloud environments and to support the fast development of cloud-native applications. Anthos features provide: 

  • A complete solution for hybrid and multicloud environments—manages workloads in any public cloud, including Azure and AWS. Anthos also supports both hybrid stacks and multicloud stacks. Using Anthos provides developers with a consistent environment for building and deploying applications to any cloud infrastructure.
  • Configuration management—operates as a declarative tool that you can use with source control systems, such as Git. Configuration files are treated as source code and are stored in a central repository. These files define your cluster states and help you monitor clusters for compliance.
  • Enhanced security, compliance, and service operations—uses Istio as an underlying communication channel for services to enhance security and improve traffic visibility. It can also integrate with Stackdriver Service Monitoring to simplify the management of dependencies and service locations. In combination, these tools provide a single console from which you can manage your Anthos environment.

Multicloud Kubernetes Management with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides Cloud Manager, a UI and APIs for management, automation and orchestration, supporting multicloud architectures. Cloud Manager can help you centralize multicloud management, for Kubernetes and any other deployment of your choice.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps users with dynamic persistent volume provisioning using NetApp Trident provisioner in your multicloud Kubernetes environments.

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