Cloud-Native Automation with Keptn

Too many organizations today struggle to deliver on the promise of cloud-native: Reliable business delivery with speed and scale. As cloud environments grow more complex, DevOps and SRE teams are struggling to keep up. They need open-source projects and frameworks that help orchestrate continuous deployment (CD) and enable automated operations at scale. This is where a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) sandbox project like keptn can help.

Understanding keptn

Keptn, pronounced CAP*tain, is a control plane for DevOps automation of cloud-native applications. The CNCF accepted keptn because DevOps and SRE teams were devoting too much critical time and resources to building pipelines, creating custom integrations between tools and managing their own data stores when these actions could instead be automated.

Puppet’s State of DevOps Report found that 90% of mature developer teams have automated their most repetitive tasks compared with only 67% of mid-level and 25% of low-maturity teams. These findings suggest a distinct correlation between automation and more mature DevOps organizations. Keptn was designed to help accelerate this maturity curve; empowering organizations to free DevOps talent to innovate and focus on larger business objectives as opposed to menial, manual tasks.

Keptn in Action

Unlike other CD tools, keptn not only orchestrates CD but also enables continuous automated operations. Think of it this way: At NASA, launch control is responsible until the timer hits 00:00. But once the rocket lifts off, mission control takes over.

In the context of keptn, launch control can be likened to CD, while mission control is akin to automated operations. You need to both ensure the rocket gets off the ground successfully and returns from space safely.

Keptn was designed to automate three core domains: Observability, dashboards and alerting; service-level objective (SLO) multi-stage delivery; and operations through closed-loop remediation.

As a result, keptn eases the delivery, testing, observability and collaboration processes for developers.

Getting Started

​​Keptn can be installed on a range of Kubernetes platforms. But while keptn runs on Kubernetes, it’s not limited to automating cloud-centric use cases on Kubernetes-driven applications. Most users today use keptn to automate use cases for their existing enterprise applications, like quality gates for their Java or .NET-based applications.

One of the more popular use cases for keptn is the service-level indicator (SLI) and service-level objective (SLO)-based quality gate capability. Keptn not only allows teams to define static thresholds (SLOs) early on but also empowers teams to compare metrics (SLIs) against previous evaluations (i.e. prior builds, test runs or releases)—making keptn easy to integrate into existing CI/CD tool stacks such as Jenkins, GitLab Pipelines, Azure DevOps and others.

Leveraging keptn for DevOps Success

As IT demands increase and cloud complexity threatens an already overburdened developer workforce, the need for automation at scale has never been greater. Teams now spend too much time and resources on building pipelines, custom integrations between tools and managing their own data stores.

Creating room for developers to innovate while also ensuring that mundane, repetitive tasks are alleviated via automated workflows should be at the forefront of any IT success strategy today. Keptn and other CNCF sandbox projects can serve as vital tools for DevOps and SRE teams looking to achieve lofty business goals and thrive in this cloud-native world.


Andreas Grabner

Andreas is a DevOps activist at Dynatrace. He has over 20 years of experience as a software developer, tester and architect, and is an advocate for high-performing cloud operations. As a champion of DevOps initiatives, Andreas is dedicated to helping developers, testers and operations teams become more efficient in their jobs with Dynatrace’s software intelligence platform.

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