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Abraham Dahunsi Web Developer 🌐 | Technical Writer ✍️| DevOps Enthusiast👨‍💻 | Python🐍 |

Data Backup in Kubernetes

4 min read

According to a study by Gartner analysts, by 2025, 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021. An increasing number of companies are now rapidly adopting cloud-native development practices, with a particular preference for containerization techniques such as Kubernetes over traditional Virtual Machines (VMs).

In Kubernetes, data is not stored on the servers that run the stateless applications, as each request made is handled independently with the information that comes with it. In this case, if a server fails, you can start another one without impacting the system. However, stateful applications store the data between each request. This data could be stored in memory or on disk, implying that the server running the application has a state that needs to be preserved, as if it fails, you need to restore the state from a backup to start another one.

With a lot of stateful applications being deployed in containers more than before, it is very important to have a reliable backup strategy.

Important Factors To Consider When Creating a Backup Strategy

Kubernetes nodes and applications are highly ephemeral, as containers are constantly created and terminated in response to changing workloads. Conventional backup systems that are created for more stable settings cannot keep up with the continuous change, leading to difficulties in capturing a consistent and up-to-date snapshot of the cluster’s state.

Let’s identify the distinct factors to consider when creating a backup strategy:

  • Data Consistency: This is a crucial aspect to consider when planning a backup strategy for Kubernetes due to the dynamic and distributed nature of the platform. Kubernetes orchestrates containers across multiple nodes, making it essential to maintain a consistent state across all components. Data consistency ensures that all nodes reflect the same data state, which is crucial for the seamless operation of applications and the continuity of business.
  • The Recovery Point Objective (RPO): This factor determines the maximum amount of data loss that can be tolerated in a disaster. It is vital when creating a backup strategy for Kubernetes. In Kubernetes, where workloads are dynamic and data changes frequently, a low RPO is crucial to minimize data loss. The choice of RPO determines backup frequency, technology stack, and operational procedures. For instance, a financial services company might opt for a near-zero RPO due to the critical nature of transaction data, while a blog site might be more flexible with a higher RPO.
  • The Recovery Time Objective (RTO):
    Determines the target duration for which operations should be restored after a disruption. It measures a business’s tolerance for downtime and is also very crucial when planning a backup and recovery strategy. A well-defined RTO can minimize the effect of a disaster on operations, reducing potential financial losses.

    The Importance of Privacy in Data Backup

    Privacy is a cornerstone of data security, especially during the backup process. As organizations increasingly rely on digital data, the need to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access becomes paramount.

    Data backups, often containing copies of critical and confidential data, can become targets for cyber threats. If compromised, these backups can lead to severe consequences, including identity theft, financial fraud, and loss of customer trust. Here are more reasons why:

    • Exposure of sensitive data: Containers sometimes handle sensitive data like API tokens, SSH keys, email addresses, phone numbers, financial records, etc., which, if exposed during backup, could lead to serious security breaches and compliance violations.
    • Trust and Reputation: When a customer decides to use your service, they are entrusting you with their data. Upholding privacy during backup ensures that you maintain that trust with your customers.
    • Regulatory Compliance: Some industries are governed by strict laws that protect data. In this case, it is mandatory by law to ensure privacy during backups to avoid hefty fines and reputation damage.

    Neglecting privacy in data backup can expose organizations to various risks. Without proper encryption and access controls, backups can be intercepted, leading to data breaches. Such incidents not only damage an organization’s reputation but also attract hefty regulatory fines. Moreover, the loss of intellectual property can put a company at a competitive disadvantage. Therefore, creating privacy measures is essential to avoid these risks and safeguard the integrity of backup data.

    Tools To Consider For Kubernetes Backup

    1. Portworx

    Portworx is one of the leading container data management platforms for Kubernetes. It has a suite of data services, including persistent storage, high availability, disaster recovery, backups, and data security for containerized applications. Portworx automates the storage processes, reducing friction across DevOps life cycles and allowing enterprise-grade business continuity with features like zero RPO and rapid RTO. It can accommodate the dynamic nature of modern cloud-native applications, giving organizations the chance to manage their data efficiently between hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

    You can learn more about Portworx and from the voices of their customers

    2. Velero

    Velero is a backup and recovery solution for Kubernetes clusters, providing the capability to back up cluster resources and persistent volumes. You can perform operations such as restoring in case of loss, migrating resources between clusters, and replicating clusters for development and testing purposes with it. Velero can either be used with cloud providers or on-premises.

    Learn more about Velero and compare it with other tools here

    3. OpenEBS

    OpenEBS is an open-source storage platform used to simplify Kubernetes data management, allowing developers and site reliability engineers to deploy stateful workloads requiring fast, reliable, and scalable container-attached storage. OpenEBS converts storage available on Kubernetes nodes into persistent volumes, either local or distributed, and is particularly suited for NVMe-based storage deployments. As a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) sandbox project, it’s recognized for its ease of installation, dynamic provisioning, and robust community support.

    Learn more about OpenEBS from real-world users

    4. Stash is a Kubernetes operator that leverages tools like restic or Kubernetes CSI Driver VolumeSnapshotter to facilitate the backup and recovery of Kubernetes volumes. It allows users to back up volumes mounted in workloads, standalone volumes, and databases and can be extended through addons for custom workloads.

    If you want to learn more about the tools listed above, you can check out an article we wrote explaining what makes up each tool, their features and functionalities and also enumerating their pros and cons – Top 5 Kubernetes backup and Storage Solutions.

    Conclusion: Align with “Shift-Left”

    “Shift-Left” is the practice of adopting or integrating quality assurance methods in your Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), and in this case, it means integrating backup and disaster recovery measures early in the development and deployment process of Kubernetes applications and infrastructure.

    In conclusion, this article has shown that creating an extensive data backup strategy in Kubernetes is not just a technical necessity but a business imperative. As we’ve seen throughout this article, the right approach to data backup can safeguard against data loss, ensure regulatory compliance, and maintain operational continuity. By prioritizing factors like data consistency, recovery objectives, and regular testing and validation, organizations can create resilient systems that stand strong in the face of disruptions.

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Abraham Dahunsi Web Developer 🌐 | Technical Writer ✍️| DevOps Enthusiast👨‍💻 | Python🐍 |
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