First year of Kubewarden

Author: Flavio Castelli



Year 2021 is almost over. Let’s take that as a chance to look back at what has been achieved during the 1st year of life of the Kubewarden project.

Finally, I’ll also talk about what we plan to do during the next one.

Year Progress Bar

2021 Highlights

Project Announcement

The Kubewarden project has been introduced to the masses for the 1st time during KubeCon Europe 2021. During this presentation, Rafael and I explained what lead us to rethink how Kubernetes policies could be written and distributed. The talk recording can be found here, watch it to better understand Kubewarden’s mission.

During the remaining part of the year, Kubewarden talks featured at other conferences like KubeCon EU Security Day, Open Source Summit, Container Days, KubeCon NA Wasm Day, Kubernetes Community Days Italy and other live streaming events. What a year! 🤩

The kwctl Utility

Shortly after KubeCon EU, we expanded the Kubewarden toolkit by releasing the kwctl utility.

This is a command line tool aimed both at policy authors and Kubernetes operators. You can picture kwctl as a sort of kubectl for Kubewarden policies.

This tool has been designed to allow quick iterative cycles both when developing policies (code → build → unit test → end-to-end tests → code ) and when gaining confidence with a policy written by a 3rd parties (download → run → tune → run).

kwctl became a central part of all our presentations. For example, you can see it in action during the latest Rancher Global Online Meetup of 2021.

Become the Universal Policy Framework

Another achievement of 2021 has been the ability to execute policies written with Rego. For the ones not familiar with it, Rego is the query language used by Open Policy Agent and by Gatekeeper.

Since Rego-based policies can be built into WebAssembly binaries, we extended all our tooling to be able the handle also the policies written for Open Policy Agent and Gatekeeper.

Thanks to that, you can use Kubewarden as the single Policy Engine to keep your Kubernetes Clusters secure and compliant.

In case you missed, this blog post gives a detailed overview about this feature.


One of the major topics we tackled during the last year has been observability.

We worked hard to provide a better observability story to our users: both policy authors and operators. This culminated with a tight integration between Kubewarden and the OpenTelemetry project.

By leveraging OpenTelemetry, policy behavior can be analyzed using modern tracing techniques. Trace events can then be collected and inspected using tools like Jaeger. You can learn more about that by reading this blog post.

Moreover, different metrics about policies and the whole Kubewarden stack have been exposed to Prometheus and made visible in Grafana. This allows a tight integration with the monitoring ecosystem that most Kubernetes Operator already use.

Life after Pod Security Policy removal

Lately, we have been focusing on providing 1:1 alternatives to the deprecated, and soon dropped, Kubernetes Pod Security Policies.

All the original PSP can now be replaced with Kubewarden policies. You can find all these policies, and even more, on Kubewarden Policy Hub.

When talking about how to migrate from Kubernetes Pod Security Policies to something maintained, we highly recommend to look at this ongoing work from AppVia. They even made this fancy UI that allows you to convert a Pod Security Policy to a Kubewarden one! 😍

What to expect from 2022

What should you expect from the Kubewarden project in 2022? Well, our roadmap is publicly available, however these are the key points:

Secure Supply Chain

Due to an unfortunate series of exploits, the topic of Secure Supply Chain became one of the highest trending topics of the whole IT industry during 2021.

We are currently working to integrate Sigstore into Kubewarden. The integration will be tackled from two different angles:

First of all, we will use Sigstore to sign all the Kubewarden policies available on the Kubewarden Policy Hub. The Policy Server and kwctl will be able consume this information to verify the trustworthiness of the policies before executing them.

Finally, we will expose Sigstore verification API to our policy authors. This will make it possible to create policies that verify the trustworthiness of container images and any other kind of artifacts that can be signed with Sigstore.

Obviously, we will also provide a ready-to-use policy that implements the most common security checks.

New Policy Operation Modes

Right now, when deploying Kubewarden policies inside of a Kubernetes cluster, their only operational mode is “enforce”. That means resources violating policies are immediately rejected.

We want to introduce new operation modes to allow Kubernetes operators to deploy the policies in a more “relaxed” mode.

This can be useful to understand, ahead of time, what could be blocked by Kubewarden policies.

Background Scan

Policies inside of a Kubernetes cluster change over the time, they can be added/removed/updated; the same applies to their configuration. Because of that, a resources that was previously considered acceptable, could become rejected due to one of these changes.

We want to provide a way for Kubernetes operators to know the compliance status of their clusters. The goal is to simplify the identification of the already existing Kubernetes resources that are violating the enforced policies.

Context Aware Policies

Kubewarden already supports the concept of “context aware policies”. These are policies that, at evaluation time, can pull additional information about the cluster status to make their final decision.

We have ambitious goals for this feature. We plan to work more on this story and graduate context aware policies to fully supported.

Call for Action

Do you want to take advantage of the holiday season to learn more about Kubewarden? Excellent!

Start by looking at our quickstart guide. It will take you just a few minutes to get Kubewarden up and running and enforce your first policy!

Once you’re done with that, don’t forget to look at this page to know what to do next.

Also, don’t forget to look at this video tutorial from Robert Sirchia.

Happy holidays and happy hacking! See you in 2022 🥳