Major Kubernetes Challenges and Its Solution in GitLab, an end-to-end DevSecOps Platform. 


Organizations are opting for digital transformation. As businesses are getting digitized, the complexity of the architecture is getting critical too. Businesses strive to have zero downtime. Complex business needs an architecture that divides its components into smaller parts. Microservice architecture refers to an architectural style for developing applications. Microservices split a large application into smaller independent services. Each service plays its small part in responsibility. A single-user service may need multiple microservices to play their role and respond. 

Microservices need resources to be configured that help them to run smoothly.  Though Containers are not the mandate for microservice architecture, they can potentially improve deployment time and app efficiency. Hence modern cloud-native applications are usually built as microservices using containers. 

Container orchestration 

The microservices-based containerized applications are well served with the orchestration platforms.  Container orchestration is the process that manages the deployment, scaling, networking, and lifecycles of containerized applications and software. Containers are executable units of software containing application code, libraries, and dependencies 

Kubernetes or K8S 

Modern business applications are built with containers. Containers allow microservices to be packed with their dependencies and configurations. Kubernetes is an open-source software. It manages the containers and also takes care of their deployment and scalability. 

Why K8S 

Most organizations are either using Kubernetes or are evaluating the same for its use in business applications. The major plus points shown by Kubernetes are – 

These advantages make Kubernetes a great choice for containerized applications.  

Challenges with K8S 

 Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has carried out a survey that has shown major complexities in terms of security, networking, scaling, and interoperability. GitLab, an end-to-end DevSecOps platform resolves most of these issues with its Kubernetes implementation strategy. 

Let’s ponder upon some of the common kubernetes issues and solutions provided by GitLab. 

GitLab and Kubernetes duo  

GitLab is an end-to-end DevSecOps platform. Along with its DevSecOps capabilities, it supports smooth Kubernetes integration that keeps users free of hassle in managing the orchestration platform. Let’s see some of the critical Kubernetes challenges and how GitLab untangles the complexities around them. 

Critical challenges in Kubernetes Challenges and GitLab as a solution: 

  1. Security

Security is one of Kubernetes’ greatest challenges because of its complexity and vulnerability. If not properly monitored, it can obstruct identifying vulnerabilities. When you deploy multiple containers, it’s difficult to detect vulnerabilities. This provides an easy way for hackers to break into your system. 

The Tesla cryptojacking attack is one of the best examples of a Kubernetes break-in, where the hackers infiltrated Tesla’s Kubernetes admin console. This led to the mining of cryptocurrencies through Tesla’s cloud resources on Amazon Web Services (AWS).  

GitLab Solution: 

GitLab has a provision for RBAC:The access can be controlled based on the user roles. The available roles are Guest, Reporter, Developer, Maintainer, Owner, and Minimal Access (available for the top-level group only). This makes sure that security remains intact with different roles. 

GitLab settings for security policy: The security policy for the container was introduced in GitLab Runner 14.5. The container security context can be configured in the config.toml executer to set container security policy. 

GitLab Container Scanning: GitLab offers both Container Scanning and Dependency Scanning to ensure coverage for all of these dependency types. 

  1. Networking

Traditional networking approaches are not very compatible with Kubernetes. As a result, the challenges with Kubernetes you face continue to grow with the scale of your deployment. Some problem areas include complexity and multi-tenancy. When an application is hosted on multiple clouds things become even more critical. 

GitLab Solution: GitLab deploys tenants to different Kubernetes clusters, and in order to have a semblance of order it stores the configurations for each client inside the repository. This way GitLab has a file that only exists in each client and it’s never sent downstream. 

  1. Interoperability

As with networking, interoperability can be a significant Kubernetes issue. When enabling interoperable cloud-native apps on Kubernetes, communication between the apps can be a bit tricky. It also affects the deployment of clusters, as the app instances it contains may have problems executing on individual nodes in the cluster. 

Kubernetes doesn’t work as well in production as in development, quality assurance (QA), or staging. Additionally, migrating to an enterprise-class production environment creates many performance, governance, and interoperability complexities. 

GitLab Solution: GitLab has developed the GitLab Agent for Kubernetes. The Agent provides a permanent communication channel between GitLab and the cluster. To follow industry best practices for GitOps it is configured by code, instead of a UI. 

  1. Scaling

Every organization aims to increase the scope of its operations over time. However, if their infrastructure is poorly equipped to scale, it’s a major disadvantage. Since Kubernetes microservices are complex and generate a lot of data to deploy, diagnosing and fixing any type of problem is a daunting task. 

GitLab Solution: The solution to handle the scalability issue is the use of the Kubernetes executor to use Kubernetes clusters for your builds. The executor calls the Kubernetes cluster API and creates a pod for each GitLab CI job. 

The Kubernetes executor divides the build into multiple steps In the initial stage, Pod is created against the Kubernetes Cluster. This creates the containers required for the build and services to run. In the next stage, cloning, restoration of cache, and downloading of artifacts from previous stages is carried out. Application is built and post-build activities are carried out. 


Though kubernetes continuous delivery has become the de facto standard in container orchestration platforms, there are many challenges associated with it when it comes to networking, interoperability scaling, and security. These challenges make Kubernetes management a daunting task. GitLab is an end-to-end DevSecOps platform. GitLab not only supports the smooth Kubernetes integration but also has devised a solution around the complexities shown by the platform in terms of above-mentioned challenges. These four major challenges have been addressed successfully by GitLab. Thus Kubernetes implementation has been made smoother with GitLab as it is capable of addressing the major issues which are faced with K8S otherwise. 

By Sonal Kakar.

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