Level 4 - Improve

You are improving security, policy and governance across your environment.


People Overview

As you improve, you are shifting competency to the development team for them to self-service. Full commitment from leadership.

Organizational Change

Cloud is now the default infrastructure for all services. The business is now requesting services from DevSecOps vs. requesting traditional servers.

Teams and Decentralization

As the platform becomes more established, you can really start the process of decentralization. You can work on the development of a self-service portal incorporating the policies and processes of your organization to enable developer service ownership.


By this level, security is involved in design and deployment, you will enforce security in your cloud native environment. Your organization is committed to security with full understanding of policies and regulations both inside and outside of the organization.

Developer Agility

Feedback is extended from application metrics through to platform and non-functional requirements with clear mapping of value streams to technological implementation. Developers are able to quickly test complex scenarios with many unknowns, cloud and application risks are easily and quickly identified and patched.

Upskilling Developers

Developers are more sophisticated and Kubernetes is widely adopted by multiple groups in different business areas, with a body of knowledge developing and actively shared including integration and release processes. Developers and cluster owners are actively expanding Kubernetes in line with their specific business and technical needs.

CNCF Certifications

Organizations may wish to consider the CKS around level 4.

Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS)

This program provides assurance that a CKS has the skills, knowledge, and competence on a broad range of best practices for securing container-based applications and Kubernetes platforms during build, deployment and runtime. CKA certification is required to sit for this exam.


Process Overview

The governance model in place will support DevSecOps. You have guardrails in place to support agile software development. You will establish an application services library. You will also set policy around container usage for example auto-scaling policies or HPC.


You will measure your release velocity and cadence to make improvements.

Change Control

You have continuous delivery, but no continuous deployment to production - you still have a gate to production that requires operator approval.


Ensure security remediation is automated and/or identified automatically with remediation advice.

Audit and Logs

Audit and alerts become mainstream and are made mandatory across applications.


Policy Overview

You now have defined SLAs around policies and remediation.

Policy Creation

Customize policies based on your business needs and minimize exceptions.


Expansion of policy tooling to include applications such as traffic proxies, service mesh, message buses and Linux. This will broaden the scope of managed policies, but it will also help in having them under control by way of declarative configurations.


Technology Overview

You’ve got full control over your environment, and you’ve built your confidence, with rapid adoption of cloud native patterns for new applications and platforms. You’ve also gained organizational commitment to cloud native and this is adding to your momentum. You’re starting to feel like you’ve “crossed the chasm.”


Kubernetes and its API has become extremely familiar to you. With your infrastructure and IaC tooling, you’ll likely find yourself investigating ClusterAPI and using that for deploying and managing the lifecycle of your clusters. As you also look to further refine control of your platforms, you’ll work to implement policy for your infrastructure control plane and other infrastructure controllers.

Container and Runtime Management

With your sources of information you’ve gained from Level 3, your goal is to further integrate your data sources and gain visibility along with alerting. This closes the feedback loop on runtime and operations and allows you to respond quickly to unplanned events.

Application Patterns and Refactoring

Microservices have become the preferred pattern for applications. The use of APIs is expanding within the organization, and other internal systems may be exposed and consumed, and they are available for general consumption, open across the organization via a service mesh. The organization becomes data-centric and API-centric, and data can be more easily consumed.

Application Release and Operations

Not only are you using GitOps operators for rapid deployment, but you may also be using them for development and test purposes. You’ll be expecting most of your software to be packaged with Helm with the feedback loop being closed as quickly as possible to reduce configuration drift.

Security and Policy

Apply your policy against production in case you haven’t already. You’ll continue to tune your policies in production.

Testing and Issue Detection

As your environment becomes more complex in production, some issue remediation may require adjusting your policy-as-code or components of your Infrastructure as Code, as well as your application. Issues may relate to more than one application so you will aggregate across applications to determine trends. These may relate to bugs such as memory leaks, as well as security or policy issues. Your remediation may be to fix them at source, ideally as ‘far left’ as possible, or otherwise building automation capable of fixing them when they occur, and tuning it over time.

Business Outcomes

Level 4 is focused on improvements around security, policy and governance across your environment. The team can focus more of their time on your business instead of maintaining Kubernetes. Level 4 is also the next level where clients and customers plateau. And most customers can stay at this level as they further mature.

Your team has cloud native confidence and now it’s time to take that knowledge and apply it more thoroughly to your business goals.You have continued to measure yourself against established KPIs in Level 1 and provided those to the business. You’ll have alignment on goals because you can demonstrate outcomes. The business should expect to see:

  • Established protocols and procedures
  • Policy enforcement of compliance standards
  • Comparison of cloud native apps vs. non-cloud native
  • The business should expect more reporting in this phase. Reporting should cover compliance, security, performance and cost. These should be easily aligned to the business goals established in Level 1.

At this point, you may start to migrate your other applications and have a better understanding of what you want to achieve and where you will see value during each level of maturity.