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We run dev environments and some staging entirely inside Kubernetes, but in prod we run all of our stateful components outside K8s (generally using things like RDS and ElastiCache).

Anecdotally, keeping stateful components outside of K8s makes running your cluster and application so much simpler and it is much easier to maintain and troubleshoot. The burden is increased configuration friction though, so often you don't want to do it for your ephemeral deployments (eg. dev environments, integrated test runners, temporary staging instances).

You can use tools like kustomize to keep your configuration as clean as possible for each deployment type. Only bring in the configurations for the stateful services when needed.

I feel like this is the "right" way for smaller teams to do K8s, assuming it's already a good fit for the application.

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