Container technology, which allows users to bundle code and dependencies to help applications run seamlessly across computing environments, has experienced rapid adoption in recent years. In 2020, Gartner predicted that by 2022, more than 75% of global organizations would be running containerized applications in production. That, it seems, is an underestimate — research from CNCF in 2022 suggests that 96% of organizations were either using or evaluating Kubernetes by 2022.

As with any technological revolution, harnessing the power of containerization is far from a given, instead being highly dependent on following the correct practices. In this blog, we’ll explore the key factors to ensure companies get the most out of the technology while avoiding the many pitfalls along the way.

Selecting a Containerization Technology

Businesses using containerization in production are clear on the many benefits the technology can bring them. According to a Redhat report on containerization in 2021, the top technical benefits of containers include innovation, modernization, support for hybrid IT ops, scalable operations, and improved productivity.

Accessing those benefits starts with selecting the right container management platform. So, what should organizations consider when deciding which platform to deploy? According to Forrester and Capital One, the most essential container management platform features are:

  • Strong security (50%)
  • Multi-cloud (46%)
  • High reliability (44%)
  • Ease of use for developers (37%)

With these core requirements in mind, there is one choice of platform that has become a clear leader in the space—Kubernetes. The rise of containerization has been rapid, but the rise of Kubernetes has been even greater. Despite only first arriving on the scene in 2014, the platform has rapidly spread out, with versions of the technology available within Google, AWS, and Azure ecosystems. Today, 5.6 million developers worldwide use Kubernetes. It’s fair to say that Kubernetes has been a significant driver in the general adoption of container technology.

The Challenge with Containerization

However, this rapid adoption hasn’t come without its share of issues. The fundamental paradox of Kubernetes is that users identify security as both the top requirement and the top challenge.

Redhat research revealed that 55% of DevOps, engineering, and security professionals have delayed or slowed down application deployment into production due to container or Kubernetes security concerns, and as many as 93% have experienced at least one security incident in their Kubernetes environments in the 12 months preceding the report.

Even still, such statistics rely on users self-reporting their security issues, which many may be reluctant to do. In 2022, Cyble actively sought out exposed Kubernetes clusters, identifying a colossal 900,000 examples—with the United States having the highest exposure count, followed by China and Germany.

Containerization Technology

Identifying the Issues

So why is it that security is such an issue for Kubernetes users? Simple misconfigurations like utilizing default container names, not having the Kubernetes dashboard protected by a secure password, and leaving default service ports open to the public can all lead to data leakage. Among the most common security incidents discovered by Redhat were the following:

  • Misconfigurations at 53%
  • Major vulnerabilities to remediate at 38%
  • Security incidents during runtime at 30%

Those findings broadly aligned with the concerns of companies, who were most afraid of introducing vulnerabilities during the configuration process. Based on the data, this fear of misconfiguration is entirely rational, suggesting that the complexity of container technology is beyond many users.

Preventing these issues is not just a matter of housekeeping—it’s crucial to the bottom line. Almost a third (31%) of Kubernetes users reported losing revenue or customers based on security or compliance incidents. That’s made even more likely by the tendency to lag behind the latest version of the technology due to the complexity of updating. Datadog found that most hosts run Kubernetes versions that are more than eighteen months old, leaving companies vulnerable to security issues that may have already been patched.

The Future of Containerization

Organizations looking to adopt containers are clear about what they want: robust security, multi-cloud capabilities, high reliability, and ease of use for developers. Thankfully, solutions exist to help organizations fulfil those core requirements while making Kubernetes easier to manage—helping to build a future for containerization that isn’t intimidatingly complex or laced with security pitfalls.

With security at the top of everyone’s lists, businesses should ensure that mission-critical applications are entrusted to professionals who know how to provide secure ecosystems for application deployment. Expertise in Kubernetes microservices capable of automatically testing and correcting broken applications are particularly important, as they are among the most effective ways of securing containers.

The agility of Kubernetes doesn’t mean much without experienced hands able to unlock the benefits, which is why companies can benefit from organizations adept at deploying, scaling and managing custom application projects. The requirements of modern business often demands container deployment across many different locations, for instance, making it beneficial to select partners that have experience securing container deployments across cloud providers, bare metal, and OpenStack.

Finally, the scalability requirements of most organizations’ containerization efforts mean an end-to-end solution suite is vital to maintain uniformity throughout the process. That should include the design and implementation of a secure continuous integration/continuous delivery pipeline, through to automation of the software delivery process—including building, testing, and deploying code changes securely.

Picking the Right Containerization Partner

Thankfully, companies don’t need to resort to picking just one or two desired outcomes from their requirements and foregoing the rest. Digital Data offers solutions oriented around that satisfy all these requirements simultaneously — and help teams adopt, manage, and automate containerized applications quickly, securely, reliably, and at scale. Digital Data provides end-to-end services for companies looking to implement and maintain full 12-factor app methodology using containerization and orchestration technologies on any operating system, and in any cloud environment.