image-blog-akana-how-to-use-kubernetes-for-multicloud-management
April 27, 2021

Kubernetes & Multicloud Management: How to Reduce Complexity & Unlock Innovation

Cloud
API Lifecycle Management

What happens when a large enterprise embraces DevOps, digital transformation, 12-factor apps, Kubernetes and multicloud environments?

Digital complexity is unleashed.

So how can the enterprise grapple with this complexity? The resounding answer is API management.

Read along or jump ahead to the section that interests you most:

The Landscape: Multicloud and Kubernetes On the Rise

To begin with, the majority of enterprises are embracing multicloud environments. According to Gartner, 81% of public cloud users are leveraging two or more providers. According to IDC, 81% of enterprise organizations use multiple public clouds alongside one or more private clouds to support application workloads, maintain privacy, and reduce IT spending.

In addition, large enterprises are gaining maturity in working with container technologies. Among container orchestrators, Kubernetes stands head and shoulders above the rest. In fact, it runs in half of all container environments, while 78% of enterprises use Kubernetes for container orchestration.

To put it bluntly, Kubernetes simply is many organization’s multicloud strategy. But if you’re a large enterprise in the midst of a digital transformation, you will eventually run into increasing endpoint complexity as you scale new clouds, 12-factor apps, services, APIs, and Kubernetes clusters. Simply implementing Kubernetes alone is not enough.

In order to succeed and create a pain-free digital transformation with Kubernetes and multicloud, you’ll need to:

  • Understand how to best leverage Kubernetes for multicloud management.
  • Learn how to use API management best practices to reduce complexity, improve security, and maintain control over your new digital ecosystem.

Kubernetes for Multicloud Management

Kubernetes is technically a container orchestrator, often used for automating aspects of scaling, deploying, and managing applications. As multicloud environments have become increasingly popular, Kubernetes has proven immensely useful in managing these complex environments.

Why? Kubernetes can standardize workloads and configurations across separate cloud providers.

Kubernetes manages clusters of containers, apps, and hosts. You can think of a Kubernetes cluster like a collection of computers running in a data center, or virtual machines, or any other system. Kubernetes brings the nodes of this cluster together as a single entity. Which means developers do not have to worry about memory, storage, CPU, and network connectivity. Kubernetes takes care of this. Well, most of it anyhow.

kubernetes-cluster-akana-blog

In the illustration above, organizations will often add APIs to apps, or other layers, within each container. This enables a microservices, or service mesh model, in which apps and services can communicate and function with one another more easily across an entire digital ecosystem.

Deploying and Running Akana in Kubernetes

Watch the webinar below to learn how you can deploy full lifecycle API management (like Akana) with Kubernetes.

 

Benefits of Managing Multicloud via Kubernetes

Stability

Multicloud deployments in Kubernetes can provide service redundancy and add stability. There is inherent ecosystem stability, fault tolerance, and streamlined application management with Kubernetes. This allows IT management to stabilize workloads across the multicloud environment.

Scalability

Kubernetes supports flexibility, rapid deployments, testing, and quick application version rollouts.

Cost Savings

Stitching together a multicloud environment via Kubernetes eliminates vendor lock-in. You can quickly compare costs and negotiate pricing based on shifting enterprise needs. 

Consistency

There’s consistency to managing a multicloud environment with Kubernetes. Deployments can be treated universally. Kubernetes can also automate workflows and modify multiple cloud environments.

Now that you know the benefits, how do you actually scale a multicloud environment in Kubernetes? Here are a few key considerations and steps.

How to Scale a Multicloud Environment via Kubernetes

1. Configure Your Clusters

The first step is to map out a cluster configuration. For an enterprise operating at scale, you may have several different cluster, node, and container configurations depending on your application needs and cloud providers.

For most multicloud environments, you will want to create a separate cluster for each cloud provider. Within each cluster, you can decide which apps and services are best suited to run in various cloud environments.

2. Automate

After your initial configurations, you can automate many aspects of your Kubernetes deployment. If you have the IT or production staff to support it, you may be able to handle multicloud automation.

That being said, once your Kubernetes environment is up and running, you will have many endpoints to secure and track. While Kubernetes provides ample orchestration capabilities, it does not account for endpoint security and monitoring at scale.

3. Ensure Environment Parity

Using declarative methods, you can standardize environments from a single central management plane. This approach allows enterprises to provide version control and push code changes and upgrades with much less effort.

4. Scale the API Layer

As many organizations have discovered, APIs are a critical factor in enabling digital transformation. While Kubernetes offers many benefits for managing multicloud environments, it cannot create innovation at the application or service layer. In order to expose services, applications, and products to external developers or audiences, you’ll need to scale APIs and adopt a 12-factor application methodology.

When an organization adopts the 12-factor app methodology, their pods, Docker containers, Kubernetes clusters, and apps create exponentially higher numbers of endpoints to secure and manage.

Unfortunately, Kubernetes offers no convention for managing endpoint security and scale. But API management offers a clear route forward.

Reduce Complexity of Kubernetes Multicloud Implementations & Unlock Innovation

As we’ve established, Kubernetes can only take an enterprise so far. Want to unlock efficiency? And enable a microservices architecture? Orchestrating your containers and organizing your digital ecosystem into multicloud silos can help.

You’ll need full lifecycle API management to:

  • Innovate at scale.
  • Remain secure.
  • Manage all layers of your environment.

Let’s get one thing straight. There are plenty of technology players out there selling API gateways as full lifecycle API management products. They’re not. And unfortunately, even some of the large players in the API management space offer scant IT and implementation support once a customer has onboarded. Additionally, few consider or even support the intricacies of security required for large enterprises, such as OAuth 2.0 and OIDC for open banking.

Large enterprises looking for an API management platform must consider security, API monetization, the API marketplace, full lifecycle management, and much more. We recommend selecting your partner with this in mind.

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So, let’s pretend you now have five data centers running Kubernetes. You’ve enabled several 12-factor microservice domains. You’re managing these environments via Kubernetes and seeing major efficiency gains.

Now you need to create a competitive advantage as an enterprise. How do you make this reality? 

Full lifecycle API management provides the central layer of abstraction, mediation, and innovation.

Related Content >> What Is Full Lifecycle API Management?

Ultimately, this approach reduces complexity, unlocks innovation, and enables a service mesh strategy. Additionally, it allows large enterprises to reduce operational costs, increase security, and improve DevOps efficiency. With full lifecycle API management, you can easily route data between clouds, scale apps up and down, and manage your digital ecosystem from a single plane.

With that in mind, let’s unpack full lifecycle API management further.

API Creation: Scaling APIs on Services, Apps, and Systems

The first step is building APIs on all relevant systems, applications, services, and applications. Once APIs are in place, you can secure and manage all endpoints from a single interface. This is a critical step in creating a secure digital ecosystem and reducing digital complexity.

With APIs, you get a view of systems and applications. And you gain control over these various endpoints from a single interface. 

API Management: Exposing Relevant APIs via Developer Portals & Marketplaces

The next step is to manage your APIs at scale. This includes governing, securing, and maintaining the health of APIs. Yet, this phase also includes safely exposing functionality of relevant applications and systems to an external audience via public or private APIs.

API developer portals provide a central repository of APIs for internal, external, or third-party developers. These portals allow API managers to provide tiered access to relevant audiences. And they ensure that the exposed APIs function securely and optimally.

An API marketplace allows organizations to publicly scale many APIs and create a thriving developer community. While the developer portal and API marketplace will work in conjunction, they are not one in the same. An API marketplace is a key aspect in API monetization and should be marketed accordingly.

Building an internal or external developer community can:

  • Expose relevant services and APIs to innovation.
  • Create new channels for consumption.
  • Open up a new world of opportunity for the enterprise.

Many travel, insurance, and data aggregators were built on this model. These are simply a collection of available public APIs with a slick interface.

API Monetization: Promoting APIs Within and Outside the Business

Your developer portal and API marketplace will be foundational to your API monetization strategy.

Using a product mindset, you can promote APIs for consumption in the same fashion as any other digital product or service. This requires selecting a relevant API monetization model based on your industry and expertise.

API Security: Monitoring Systems, Applications, & Users via APIs

API security can go well beyond the secure functioning of APIs in the enterprise. It can extend to business analytics packages, consumer analytics, and other monitoring systems. As a result, you can effectively create a single plane for managing enterprise security.

Likewise, with the user controls generated via developer portals, you can manage who has access to your enterprise APIs, applications, and data at scale. There is no limit to the number of APIs and systems you can integrate. This could include everything from mainframes, cloud providers, Google Analytics packages, or databases. The opportunity to monitor enterprise-wide security via APIs is simply vast.

API Consumption: Incorporating Relevant External APIs Within Your Ecosystem

A final opportunity with APIs lies in the consumption of other organization’s APIs — aka third party APIs. This could include relevant partner APIs, competitor APIs, or any other API that would be valuable to your customers or employees.

Consider any features, software, or business that your customers would want in addition to your offering. Are there relevant APIs you could incorporate with your services that would add value?

As was mentioned above, many aggregators build their entire business revenue by simply collecting and repackaging other companies’ APIs. There is no reason the modern enterprise cannot make good on the same opportunity.

Achieve Multicloud Innovation with Akana and Kubernetes

The Akana API platform provides the best way to accelerate digital transformation in the enterprise with technologies like Kubernetes.

That’s because Akana delivers the full lifecycle management capabilities you need to create a competitive advantage.

With Akana, you can:

  • Create and deploy APIs quickly, so you can accelerate time-to-market.
  • Manage APIs at scale and accelerate adoption with an all-in-one API marketplace and internal portal.
  • Monetize your APIs easily within the marketplace and drive revenue.
  • Apply security policies automatically and easily manage access.
  • Meet customer needs by consuming third party APIs.

Plus, using Akana enhances the benefits of multicloud management with Kubernetes, including:

  • Stability and security. Akana can secure dozens of endpoints and keep your multicloud environments and clusters running efficiently.
  • Simplify scalability. When applications, services, and systems are managed via APIs, Akana gives enterprises the ability to scale up or down from a single interface.
  • Drive cost-savings. Akana’s API management platform streamlines multicloud management, which reduces the need to hire additional developers and IT staff.
  • Deliver consistency. Akana automates deployment of APIs, which improves consistency. When multicloud environments and applications are managed via APIs, these environments gain the same benefits.

Enterprises around the world rely on Akana. See for yourself why the Akana API platform is ideally suited for the enterprise.  

Watch the on-demand demo to see Akana in action.

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