Companies shifting from old technology to new-age, reliable environments have begun extensively adopting cloud-native development practices through tools like Kubernetes. However, transitioning to cloud-based technology can come with its challenges, leaving you vulnerable to unexpected issues.
The features that make Kubernetes an effective and powerful application deployment asset come with its share of issues. While Kubernetes allows its users to have zero downtime deployment, service interrupting events cannot be avoided and can occur at any time. Network crashes, bugs in application updates, and a host of unexpected issues can easily hamper your operations.
At the heart of Kubernetes saving processes lie containers. These containers operate on the simple principle of immutability. When you choose to destroy a container, you also destroy all the data created during the entire life of the container.
However, immutability is not always advantageous. Applications may require sharing information or must maintain a state that cannot afford to lose this information. In such situations, containers require a location to store information permanently and outlive the span of an individual container.
Kubernetes’ non-persistent form of storage, also called ephemeral, provides it with immense portability, but no durability. Containers have ephemeral storage as the default setup, using a temporary directory on the machine.
Persistent storage can take several forms with Kubernetes. These range from files and blocks to object storage services from cloud providers and storage devices in local data centers.
Why Set up A Backup And Recovery Mechanism
Backing up your data can help you return to a stable version of your Kubernetes cluster in case it enters an unrecoverable state. Backups also help you safeguard your data from system failures, accidents, and vicious attacks. A comprehensive backup strategy is certain to give you the confidence to make the most of the complicated Kubernetes platform.
A backup mechanism can also enable you to duplicate your product environment to a staging environment before carrying out significant updates and changes. Furthermore, it allows you to migrate your Kubernetes cluster from one environment to another with complete ease.
What Do You Choose To Backup?
Let’s now take a look at what it is that we need to back up. There are two predominant things you need to back up:
- Control plane – The Kubernetes control plane is stored in etcd storage. To get all your Kubernetes resources, you will need to back up your etcd state.
- Stateful containers – If you possess any stateful containers, you will need to back up the persistent volumes.
Backing Up Your etcd Database
As mentioned earlier, the Kubernetes etcd database acts as a distributed key-value store that is responsible for storing all the configuration data within your Kubernetes cluster, such as pods and services. This database is essential for the working of your Kubernetes cluster, with any data loss resulting in its failure.
Tools such as Velero can help you back up your etcd database.
Backing Up Application Data
Along with your Kubernetes etcd database, there is also a need for you to backup the application data that may be running on your Kubernetes cluster. This refers to any and all data stored in configuration files and databases, along with any other data that may be generated by the application you are working on.
Tools like Stash and Kasten can help with this process, taking application data backups and storing them in object storage avenues such as Google Cloud.
Restoring Kubernetes from a Backup
The backups that you have created can help restore your Kubernetes cluster with ease in case of a sudden outage or loss of data. To restore, all one needs to do is recreate the Kubernetes cluster from a backup, including the configuration data in the etcd database as well as the application data stored in the volumes attached to your Kubernetes pods.
When restoring a backup, make it a point to ensure that the backup you have chosen is valid and has all the data necessary to restore the Kubernetes objects. Additionally, it helps to test the restore process on a periodic basis to make sure that it works exactly as desired and can operate easily in case of an emergency.
Tools That Can Aid
Before we wrap up, let’s look at a few tools that can help make the backup and recovery process far easier for you.
Velero is a commonly-used open source backup and DR tool for Kubernetes clusters. The tool empowers admins to schedule backups for the entire cluster or specific namespaces or labels. What makes it stand out is its handy Backup Hooks feature, which gives admins the choice to perform a custom operation right before or after a backup.
Velero can also be incredibly useful as a migration tool, if you require one.
K10 by Kasten is presented as a comprehensive data management platform, offering far more than the simple ability to backup your clusters. K10 has been crafted in a manner that helps it run within its own namespace on your Kubernetes cluster, supporting all major Kubernetes distributions.
K10 eases the backup process by automatically identifying applications, even if they span across volumes or databases. Plus, K10 offers several security features such as role-based access control and data encryption
PX-Backup is an enterprise-grade application and data protection tool created by Portworx. It has been created to back up Kubernetes applications at the namespace, Pod, or tag level, even working with numerous namespaces.
PX-Backup’s scalability is perfect for users that wish to create on-demand backups and easily schedule backups of hundreds of applications. Plus, it supports applications that span several databases.