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Leveraging policies to manage access control

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For many organizations, IT environments encompass public cloud services, private clouds, and on-premises infrastructure. With Software as a service (SaaS) as the largest market segment, emerging technologies such as containerization, virtualization, and edge computing have driven cloud spending. As every business has its own set of goals and each cloud partner offers its own features, companies are opting for a mix that is now known as hybrid cloud. The hybrid cloud model provides unprecedented flexibility for businesses, allowing businesses to expand as and when needed based on workload. However, the hybrid cloud also presents cybersecurity risks which can lead to significant losses. 

In recent years, the container orchestration tool Kubernetes has evolved to become an essential cloud-native technology for open-source enthusiasts globally. As businesses take a cloud-first approach, Kubernetes has found its place in hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures. 

More than ever, hybrid and multi-cloud deployments are quickly becoming essential business requirements. Managing and operating Kubernetes in a hybrid environment requires a robust shared services platform strategy. Businesses looking to bring shared Kubernetes clusters with hybrid and multi-cloud setups need to follow these steps – 

  • Leverage team expertise to effectively roll out unified management across multiple Kubernetes clusters, clouds, and infrastructures.
  • Establish flexibility and control by centralizing the delivery of Kubernetes-related services.
  • Maintain centralized security with zero-trust environments, review cluster and app health, monitor clusters for compliance and cost control

While Kubernetes with a multi-cloud setup is one of the most preferred ways for developers to build new software experiences, it also comes with its challenges. The most common challenges organizations face when deploying Kubernetes to hybrid cloud environments are listed below.

  • While using multiple cloud clusters, developers often have trouble with a lack of centralized visibility across the Kubernetes landscape. As a result, it becomes cumbersome to monitor cluster performance effectively.
  • When time is of the essence, businesses expect scale and speed. However, there are roadblocks while getting Kubernetes into production as companies need to select, integrate, automate, and test the range of open-source technologies available. 
  • The operational and overhead challenges continue to exist irrespective of whether the company operates in Kubernetes or cloud solutions. Some of the common problems include the need for security, speed, and scale.
  • Lack of automated enterprise access controls to set the right policies between multiple clouds or clusters. This leads to an increase in operational costs and the complexities of meeting regulatory compliance requirements.
  • The lack of a single, flexible cloud solution to run applications leads to increased overhead and opportunity costs while complicating the process of abstraction.
  • Limited choices to leverage external cloud-native expertise, support, training, and service lead to product success disruptions. 

Policy-based Access Management

To unify operations, businesses must move from their siloed environment to a holistic, integrated approach. Access control is considered the most critical component of an organization’s cybersecurity protection, as there is a need for dynamic access control while business leaders make real-time decisions. Policy-Based Access Management includes policies evaluated in real-time to provide access decisions to user requests for access to protected resources such as a computer application or sensitive database.

Policy-based access control assists organizations in enforcing consistent entitlements across multiple applications for multiple business units. The Styra Declarative Authorization Service (DAS) is built on top of the open-source project Open Policy Agent (OPA). Designed and built with the intent to allow developers and platform teams to focus on making apps work better and more securely, Styra DAS focuses on authorization policy instead of the operational nuances of deployment. The solution provides authorization through policy management across the cloud-native ecosystem and allows least-privilege access through APIs, identities, systems, and services for context-rich authorization. Broadly, Styra Declarative Authorization Service (DAS) solves three critical problems – 

– Improve efficiency among developers and engineering teams through robust resource allocations

– Manage policy lifecycle and governance across all teams by authorizing fine-grained access control.

– Reduce the chance of risk by starting with pre-built policies mapped to MITRE ATT&CK for cloud, PCI, and CIS benchmarks.

To build Policy-based access management, businesses must follow a four-step process- 

  • Plan where all potential stakeholders have input into the access control strategy 
  • Build a design that satisfies the plan. Component and system testing become part of the build process.
  • Deliver using Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) toolsets 
  • Operational personnel must run the deployments with tools that provide visibility across hybrid and multi-cloud

Benefits of Styra DAS 

  • Fine-grained access control to achieve deep context-rich authorization 
  • Improved policy impact analysis in CI/CD pipelines that enables developer teams to see violations early
  • Simplified authoring and collaboration across teams, clusters, and clouds in a control plane
  • Efficiently triage old policy decisions using decision logs and compliance monitoring to understand the health of OPAs and monitor for connection, upgrades, and maintenance.
  • Real-time policy lifecycle management of GitOps process throughout deployment, clusters, and clouds.
  • Better enterprise governance with production-ready OPA 

Why Styra DAS?

Styra DAS allows users to leverage one language to express and manage policy across various software systems, including Kubernetes, public cloud, Linux, and more. As the world’s only enterprise-grade authorization platform designed explicitly for OPA, the solution includes authoring, impact analysis, testing, distribution, monitoring for policy, and decision logging.

Conclusion

Though a Kubernetes and hybrid/multi-cloud approach can create various operational and security challenges, having a robust access management system can mitigate the risk this presents to the organization.

If you have questions related to this topic, feel free to book a meeting with one of our solutions experts, mail to sales@amazic.com.

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