March 5, 2021

Managing existing brownfield Kubernetes clusters

Tenry Fu
Tenry Fu
CEO & Co-Founder

Introducing Spectro Cloud’s Brownfield (Existing) Cluster Management

Kubernetes is here to stay. We see enterprises go through roughly three phases in their Kubernetes adoption journey:

Introducing Spectro Cloud’s Brownfield (Existing) Cluster Management

At the initial “Experimentation” phase, many containers and Kubernetes related projects are developer driven. Developers love the openness of Kubernetes and don’t mind using CLIs and writing scripts to stitch up to 20+ open-source components together for deployment. If it works, at this dev / test stage, Kubernetes is often not upgraded, and security and keeping everything up-to-date is not a huge concern.

At the second “Early Productization” phase, Kubernetes moves from an experiment to something that an organization relies on for value delivery. The project is now ready for production, and IT Ops and SRE get involved. Enterprise supportability and security are key, and the ops management team wants to prioritize manageability. They do not mind taking a prepackaged prescriptive solution even if it is very rigid and “my way or the highway” because supportability is critical. Many of these solutions deal with Kubernetes clusters as silos, with no comprehensive management and governance across multiple clusters, potentially even in multiple cloud environments.

At the aspirational third “Modern Platform” phase, Kubernetes becomes the mainstream and the number of clusters keeps increasing. We observe a trend where the ops team wants to break a large Kubernetes cluster with multi-tenancy into multiple smaller, special-purpose clusters to give more flexibility, better resource utilization, and blast radius minimization in the event of trouble. Managing a fleet of clusters exposes new challenges — how to keep everything consistent and up-to-date, with better governance and visibility, becomes a top priority.

In enterprises today, especially if you are at the third phase of the Kubernetes journey, there are many existing Kubernetes clusters, and new clusters are added and provisioned gradually. At Spectro Cloud, we sought to provide an enterprise-grade Kubernetes management platform to manage all clusters, including existing ones — bringing the same benefits of flexibility and operational efficiency to those as we have already offered with new clusters. This helps you protect your existing investment and environment, with no need to rush to transition and replace your old clusters just to adopt a new management tool.

With Spectro Cloud, you can immediately start managing existing brownfield clusters with the following benefits:

1. Get governance and visibility across many clusters and environments.

Just run a simple kubectl command line to deploy the Spectro Cloud management agent into an existing cluster. The agent will automatically report back to the Spectro Cloud management plane. Now you will be able to monitor all new and existing clusters from one dashboard, as well as apply governance rules such as RBAC, quota control, and cost metering. Whether your existing clusters are cloud managed or on-prem installed, as long as the Spectro Cloud management agent is able to reach out to the management plane (via https proxy is fine), you can get a single management platform across all clusters. For flexibility, Spectro Cloud supports both multi-tenant SaaS (operated by Spectro Cloud so you don’t have to) and self-managed (operated by you if your policies dictate that SaaS is not preferable) deployment models.

governance and visibility across many clusters and environments

2. Manage consistent integrations for your clusters.

Many existing Kubernetes solutions, including cloud managed Kubernetes services such as EKS/AKS/GKE, only provide plain Kubernetes with base OS, Kubernetes, CRI, CSI, and CNI. However, we all know a working K8s solution tends to include many more integrations than that! How do you apply your corporate standard log collection, monitoring and security tools? How about additional application frameworks such as KNative for serverless or Kubeflow for AI/ML? These integrations are not just one time deployments using Helm Charts, so how do you keep the integrations consistent and up-to-date, as well as compatible with the underlying K8s layer? Spectro Cloud has extended our Cluster Profile concept to brownfield clusters, allowing you to easily create “add-on” cluster profiles that can be attached to brownfield clusters, again using cluster profiles as a single source of truth to drive consistency and reusability, without requiring complex scripting effort.

 consistent integrations for your clusters

3. Turn your existing clusters into best practices templates.

You likely have put a lot of effort into your clusters to make them production ready. You shouldn’t have to repeat these manual efforts again and again for every new cluster. During an outage, do you rush to get into a cluster, manually change configurations using kubectl, and then hope you are able to successfully apply the same changes to other clusters? With Spectro Cloud, you will be able to point to an existing cluster, hand pick a few pods and configurations, and turn them into an integration pack (the ingredient to build cluster profiles). Now your one-time manual configuration can be reused and automated without much effort. With Spectro Cloud’s desired state based management approach, once the cluster profile is updated with additional integration packs, all clusters that are using this cluster profile will show there is an update available, and you can apply the update either manually or based on scheduled time. Voila! Propagation of your best practices to your other clusters.

existing cluster template

4. Migrate workloads seamlessly between new and existing clusters.

Container-based applications are supposed to be more portable across multiple clusters and environments. However, to migrate applications between clusters, you not only need to backup/restore the application pods, but also the configuration, secrets, and persistent data, along with the application. Spectro Cloud makes application migration painless; similar to turning an application into an integration pack, we can also backup the application (with configuration and data) into a zip file and allow it to be easily restored on another cluster, all from one management platform.

migrate your clusters easily

Interested in seeing how easy it is to streamline the management of your existing clusters? Trying Spectro Cloud is easy. You can bring your existing clusters under management or provision a new cluster in minutes. Just go to and sign up for the 30-day free trial.

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