4 Myths of Kubernetes Data Protection, Debunked

Kubernetes, an open-source container orchestration platform, has gained widespread adoption due to its ability to automate the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Based on the April 2023 ESG survey, “Measuring the Current State and Momentum in the Enterprise Market for Kubernetes Protection”, by Christophe Bertrand, practice director at ESG, Kubernetes is maturing. In fact, 66% of respondents affirmed that they already use Kubernetes to manage and orchestrate their containers.

As organizations transition toward cloud-native architectures, Kubernetes serves as a cornerstone in facilitating agility and scalability. According to the same survey linked above, nearly 1 in 5 organizations reported greater Kubernetes usage, with a range of 51-100 container-based applications being currently managed in production with Kubernetes. This survey also found that today’s most common Kubernetes workloads in production are customized web applications, databases, and transactional applications that require high availability for both the application and its associated data.

The emergence of Kubernetes has significantly altered the paradigms of application development and deployment. However, alongside its benefits come new challenges, particularly regarding data protection and management. When applications and workloads are modernized, there’s a ripple effect that needs to be accounted for as well. This is especially true with the increasing complexity of Kubernetes deployments, so implementing robust data protection is paramount.

This means it’s imperative that we dissect the prevalent myths that surround data protection in Kubernetes. By delving into some recent evaluations by ESG, we will investigate the most common incorrect preconceptions you may have about your Kubernetes data protection strategy and uncover how your organization can properly fill these gaps.

Role of Data Protection in Kubernetes

Before we dive into the common myths, let’s take a step back and review the concept behind them: Kubernetes data protection.

Data protection requirements in Kubernetes environments are the same as any other platform. These basic requirements include the protection of data integrity, risk mitigation, and business continuity.

  • Ensuring data integrity: Data protection mechanisms in Kubernetes aim to ensure the integrity and availability of critical data, thus safeguarding organizations against data loss and corruption.
  • Mitigating risks: By implementing robust data protection measures, organizations can mitigate risk and therefore the cost associated with data breaches, ransomware attacks, and compliance violations.
  • Enabling business continuity: Effective data protection enables seamless recovery and operation continuity, which minimizes downtime and revenue loss in the event of failure or disaster.

Challenges in Kubernetes Data Protection

While it’s clear that Kubernetes data protection is critical, that doesn’t make it easy. The following challenges with Kubernetes data protection were identified by users in this ESG survey:

  • Dynamic nature of Kubernetes workloads: Unlike traditional monolithic applications, containerized workloads in Kubernetes are ephemeral and distributed across multiple clusters. This dynamic nature poses challenges when using traditional backup and recovery solutions.
  • Data persistence and recovery: Kubernetes focuses on maintaining the availability of compute resources but does not inherently address data persistence and recovery. Organizations must implement their own dedicated data protection solutions to safeguard critical data.
  • Security risks: Despite Kubernetes’ robust security features, it’s still susceptible to ransomware attacks that target critical data that’s stored within containers. Without proper data protection measures in place, organizations risk data breaches and financial losses.

Top 4 Myths Surrounding Data Protection in Kubernetes

Many teams who are new to Kubernetes (and even those who have some experience with it) have some preconceptions when it comes to engaging with containerized environments. Their “window on the world” is informed by the experiences they have had with other technologies, regardless of whether those lessons were relevant or not. As organizations harness the power of this container orchestration system, it becomes imperative to dispel the myths surrounding Kubernetes data protection, illuminate the realities, and guide practitioners towards robust strategies that can help safeguard their valuable data assets. That’s why we’ve continued our research with ESG through this new technical validation report, “Dispelling the Myths of Kubernetes Data Protection,” by Alex Arcilla, senior validation analyst at ESG. Only by identifying and dismissing false assumptions can teams move forward to successfully deploy Kubernetes without jeopardizing their organization’s critical application data.

 Top misconceptions include:

A: Myth: “Using my existing backup and recovery solution is sufficient for a Kubernetes environment.”

  • Contrary to popular belief, traditional backup and recovery solutions are ill-equipped to handle the dynamic nature of Kubernetes environments. Unlike monolithic applications, the containerized, microservice-based workloads in Kubernetes require specialized data protection mechanisms to ensure integrity and availability. Simply backing up Kubernetes worker nodes, or the Kubernetes configuration database, does not ensure that applications can be successfully recovered.

B: Myth: “Kubernetes supports high application availability, so my data is protected.”

  • While Kubernetes does enhance application availability through features like auto-scaling and self-healing, this does not inherently guarantee data protection. High availability and effective data protection are not the same thing. Organizations must implement dedicated, purpose-built data protection solutions like Veeam Kasten to safeguard their critical data and ensure business continuity.

C: Myth:” Kubernetes is impervious to ransomware.”

  • Despite Kubernetes’s robust security features, it remains just as susceptible to ransomware attacks that target critical container data as applications within legacy virtual environments. In fact, we are seeing some threat actors specifically target workloads hosted in Kubernetes to exploit the fact that it’s a relatively new platform that may lack proper organizational controls or data protection. Without proper data protection measures in place, organizations risk falling victim to ransomware extortion and data breaches.

D: Myth: “I already know how to move applications with my traditional solution.”

  • Migrating applications in Kubernetes environments requires specialized knowledge and tools tailored to the intricacies of container orchestration. Traditional backup and recovery solutions are not optimized for Kubernetes application mobility, which often leads to increased complexity and inefficiency during the migration processes. Furthermore, while containerized images add a layer of portability not previously achievable, they still depend on other resources and data outside of the containerized image. This requires purpose-built cloud native mobility solutions.

What to Look for in an Effective Kubernetes Backup Solution

Now that we understand the common misconceptions about Kubernetes protection, it is important that we also review the most relevant attributes to look for in a solution that will allow us to successfully protect Kubernetes deployments. Amidst a plethora of options, identifying the right Kubernetes backup solution can be daunting. Five key attributes to look for include:

  1. Kubernetes-native integration: A quality solution will seamlessly integrate into Kubernetes environments by leveraging Kubernetes’ APIs and metadata to ensure consistent and reliable data protection. Additionally, to be truly extensible, a Kubernetes backup solution should be able to manage and be managed in the same way as cloud native applications.
  2. Comprehensive data protection: Be sure the solutions you’re considering can offer a comprehensive suite of features that are designed to address the unique requirements of cloud native applications that run on Kubernetes. From backup and recovery and disaster recovery (DR) to application mobility and ransomware protection, make sure your solution provides a holistic approach to data management.
  3. Policy-driven automation: As with any area of technology, automating as many repetitive tasks as possible in Kubernetes is important to maximizing organizational efficiency. Look for data protection workflows that have policy-driven management, which allow organizations to define backup schedules, retention policies, and recovery objectives based on their specific requirements.
  4. Cross-cloud portability: As Kubernetes deployments scale in size and more traffic is generated by edge applications, more organizations are turning to hybrid or multi cloud deployment models for Kubernetes. Ensure the solutions you consider can protect these types of deployments, since this will ensure your enterprise does not outgrow its protection solution.
  5. Immutability and encryption: As we have learned in the myths listed above, Kubernetes is as susceptible to ransomware and other attacks as any other legacy technology. It is not a question of if but when an enterprise will be targeted by these attacks. In those scenarios, the key question to ask is whether your data protection solution allows you to recover quickly, meet recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives (RTOs and RPOs), and keep your business running effectively.

The Economics of Using Traditional Solutions vs. a Purpose-built Solution

Beyond addressing technical challenges, the adoption of an appropriate solution will yield substantial economic benefits. Traditional backup and recovery solutions entail hidden costs associated with manual intervention, downtime, and data loss. Some organizations also try home grown or open-source solutions. The approaches, however, involve error prone and repetitive scripting and manual commands. In contrast, an automated and policy-driven approach reduces operational overhead and minimizes the risk of revenue loss due to downtime or data breach. Veeam Kasten provides just such advanced automation capabilities, coupled with an intuitive GUI. Moreover, cloud native architectures enable organizations to leverage the scalability and cost-efficiency of your cloud storage without compromising data integrity.

In conclusion, the myths surrounding data protection in Kubernetes environments underscore the critical need for purpose-built solutions. As organizations navigate the complexities of cloud native architectures, investing in robust data protection mechanisms becomes imperative. By dispelling misconceptions and embracing innovative solutions like Veeam Kasten, enterprises can safeguard their data assets, mitigate risks, and drive business resilience to deliver digital transformation.

To dive deeper into dispelling the myths of Kubernetes data protection and to learn more about why Veeam Kasten is the best-in-class platform for backing up and protecting Kubernetes clusters, download our whitepaper.

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