This guide explains how to use Kubernetes Federated Ingress to deploy a common HTTP(S) virtual IP load balancer across a federated service running in multiple Kubernetes clusters. As of v1.4, clusters hosted in Google Cloud (both GKE and GCE, or both) are supported. This makes it easy to deploy a service that reliably serves HTTP(S) traffic originating from web clients around the globe on a single, static IP address. Low network latency, high fault tolerance and easy administration are ensured through intelligent request routing and automatic replica relocation (using Federated ReplicaSets. Clients are automatically routed, via the shortest network path, to the cluster closest to them with available capacity (despite the fact that all clients use exactly the same static IP address). The load balancer automatically checks the health of the pods comprising the service, and avoids sending requests to unresponsive or slow pods (or entire unresponsive clusters).

Federated Ingress is released as an alpha feature, and supports Google Cloud Platform (GKE, GCE and hybrid scenarios involving both) in Kubernetes v1.4. Work is under way to support other cloud providers such as AWS, and other hybrid cloud scenarios (e.g. services spanning private on-premise as well as public cloud Kubernetes clusters). We welcome your feedback.

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This guide assumes that you have a running Kubernetes Cluster Federation installation. If not, then head over to the federation admin guide to learn how to bring up a cluster federation (or have your cluster administrator do this for you). Other tutorials, for example this one by Kelsey Hightower, are also available to help you.

You are also expected to have a basic working knowledge of Kubernetes in general, and Ingress in particular.


Federated Ingresses are created in much that same way as traditional Kubernetes Ingresses: by making an API call which specifies the desired properties of your logical ingress point. In the case of Federated Ingress, this API call is directed to the Federation API endpoint, rather than a Kubernetes cluster API endpoint. The API for Federated Ingress is 100% compatible with the API for traditional Kubernetes Services.

Once created, the Federated Ingress automatically:

  1. creates matching Kubernetes Ingress objects in every cluster underlying your Cluster Federation,
  2. ensures that all of these in-cluster ingress objects share the same logical global L7 (i.e. HTTP(S)) load balancer and IP address.
  3. monitors the health and capacity of the service "shards" (i.e. your pods) behind this ingress in each cluster
  4. ensures that all client connections are routed to an appropriate healthy backend service endpoint at all times, even in the event of pod, cluster, availability zone or regional outages.

Note that in the case of Google Cloud, the logical L7 load balancer is not a single physical device (which would present both a single point of failure, and a single global network routing choke point), but rather a truly global, highly available load balancing managed service, globally reachable via a single, static IP address.

Clients inside your federated Kubernetes clusters (i.e. Pods) will be automatically routed to the cluster-local shard of the Federated Service backing the Ingress in their cluster if it exists and is healthy, or the closest healthy shard in a different cluster if it does not. Note that this involves a network trip to the HTTP(s) load balancer, which resides outside your local Kubernetes cluster but inside the same GCP region.

Creating a federated ingress

You can create a federated ingress in any of the usual ways, for example using kubectl:

kubectl --context=federation-cluster create -f myingress.yaml

For example ingress YAML configurations, see the Ingress User Guide The '--context=federation-cluster' flag tells kubectl to submit the request to the Federation API endpoint, with the appropriate credentials. If you have not yet configured such a context, visit the federation admin guide or one of the administration tutorials to find out how to do so.

As described above, the Federated Ingress will automatically create and maintain matching Kubernetes ingresses in all of the clusters underlying your federation. These cluster-specific ingresses (and their associated ingress controllers) configure and manage the load balancing and health checking infrastructure that ensures that traffic is load balanced to each cluster appropriately.

You can verify this by checking in each of the underlying clusters, for example:

kubectl --context=gce-asia-east1a get ingress myingress
NAME        HOSTS     ADDRESS           PORTS     AGE
myingress      *   80, 443   1m

The above assumes that you have a context named 'gce-asia-east1a' configured in your client for your cluster in that zone. The name and namespace of the underlying ingress will automatically match those of the Federated Ingress that you created above (and if you happen to have had ingresses of the same name and namespace already existing in any of those clusters, they will be automatically adopted by the Federation and updated to conform with the specification of your Federated Ingress - either way, the end result will be the same).

The status of your Federated Ingress will automatically reflect the real-time status of the underlying Kubernetes ingresses, for example:

kubectl --context=federation-cluster describe ingress myingress

Name:           myingress
Namespace:      default
  tls-secret terminates
  Host  Path    Backends
  ----  ----    --------
  * *   echoheaders-https:80 (,
  https-target-proxy:       k8s-tps-default-myingress--ff1107f83ed600c0
  target-proxy:         k8s-tp-default-myingress--ff1107f83ed600c0
  url-map:          k8s-um-default-myingress--ff1107f83ed600c0
  backends:         {"k8s-be-30301--ff1107f83ed600c0":"Unknown"}
  forwarding-rule:      k8s-fw-default-myingress--ff1107f83ed600c0
  https-forwarding-rule:    k8s-fws-default-myingress--ff1107f83ed600c0
  FirstSeen LastSeen    Count   From                SubobjectPath   Type        Reason  Message
  --------- --------    -----   ----                -------------   --------    ------  -------
  3m        3m      1   {loadbalancer-controller }          Normal      ADD default/myingress
  2m        2m      1   {loadbalancer-controller }          Normal      CREATE  ip:

Note that:

  1. the address of your Federated Ingress corresponds with the address of all of the underlying Kubernetes ingresses (once these have been allocated - this may take up to a few minutes).
  2. we have not yet provisioned any backend Pods to receive the network traffic directed to this ingress (i.e. 'Service Endpoints' behind the service backing the Ingress), so the Federated Ingress does not yet consider these to be healthy shards and will not direct traffic to any of these clusters.
  3. the federation control system will automatically reconfigure the load balancer controllers in all of the clusters in your federation to make them consistent, and allow them to share global load balancers. But this reconfiguration can only complete successfully if there are no pre-existing Ingresses in those clusters (this is a safety feature to prevent accidental breakage of existing ingresses). So to ensure that your federated ingresses function correctly, either start with new, empty clusters, or make sure that you delete (and recreate if necessary) all pre-existing Ingresses in the clusters comprising your federation.

Adding backend services and pods

To render the underlying ingress shards healthy, we need to add backend Pods behind the service upon which the Ingress is based. There are several ways to achieve this, but the easiest is to create a Federated Service and Federated Replicaset. Details of how those work are covered in the aforementioned user guides - here we'll simply use them, to create appropriately labelled pods and services in the 13 underlying clusters of our federation:

kubectl --context=federation-cluster create -f services/nginx.yaml
  kubectl --context=federation-cluster create -f myreplicaset.yaml

Note that in order for your federated ingress to work correctly on Google Cloud, the node ports of all of the underlying cluster-local services need to be identical. If you're using a federated service this is easy to do. Simply pick a node port that is not already being used in any of your clusters, and add that to the spec of your federated service. If you do not specify a node port for your federated service, each cluster will choose it's own node port for its cluster-local shard of the service, and these will probably end up being different, which is not what you want.

You can verify this by checking in each of the underlying clusters, for example:

kubectl --context=gce-asia-east1a get services nginx
nginx   80/TCP    9m

Hybrid cloud capabilities

Federations of Kubernetes Clusters can include clusters running in different cloud providers (e.g. Google Cloud, AWS), and on-premises (e.g. on OpenStack). However, in Kubernetes v1.4, Federated Ingress is only supported across Google Cloud clusters. In future versions we intend to support hybrid cloud Ingress-based deployments.

Discovering a federated ingress

Ingress objects (in both plain Kubernets clusters, and in federations of clusters) expose one or more IP addresses (via the Status.Loadbalancer.Ingress field) that remains static for the lifetime of the Ingress object (in future, automatically managed DNS names might also be added). All clients (whether internal to your cluster, or on the external network or internet) should connect to one of these IP or DNS addresses. As mentioned above, all client requests are automatically routed, via the shortest network path, to a healthy pod in the closest cluster to the origin of the request. So for example, HTTP(S) requests from internet users in Europe will be routed directly to the closest cluster in Europe that has available capacity. If there are no such clusters in Europe, the request will be routed to the next closest cluster (typically in the U.S.).

Handling failures of backend pods and whole clusters

Ingresses are backed by Services, which are typically (but not always) backed by one or more ReplicaSets. For Federated Ingresses, it is common practise to use the federated variants of Services and ReplicaSets for this purpose, as described above.

In particular, Federated ReplicaSets ensure that the desired number of pods are kept running in each cluster, even in the event of node failures. In the event of entire cluster or availability zone failures, Federated ReplicaSets automatically place additional replacas in the other available clusters in the federation to accommodate the traffic which was previously being served by the now unavailable cluster. While the Federated ReplicaSet ensures that sufficient replicas are kept running, the Federated Ingress ensures that user traffic is automatically redirected away from the failed cluster to other available clusters.


I cannot connect to my cluster federation API

Check that your

  1. Client (typically kubectl) is correctly configured (including API endpoints and login credentials), and
  2. Cluster Federation API server is running and network-reachable.

See the federation admin guide to learn how to bring up a cluster federation correctly (or have your cluster administrator do this for you), and how to correctly configure your client.

I can create a federated ingress/service/replicaset successfully against the cluster federation API, but no matching ingresses/services/replicasets are created in my underlying clusters

Check that:

  1. Your clusters are correctly registered in the Cluster Federation API (kubectl describe clusters)
  2. Your clusters are all 'Active'. This means that the cluster Federation system was able to connect and authenticate against the clusters' endpoints. If not, consult the event logs of the federation-controller-manager pod to ascertain what the failure might be. (kubectl --namespace=federation logs $(kubectl get pods --namespace=federation -l module=federation-controller-manager -oname)
  3. That the login credentials provided to the Cluster Federation API for the clusters have the correct authorization and quota to create ingresses/services/replicasets in the relevant namespace in the clusters. Again you should see associated error messages providing more detail in the above event log file if this is not the case.
  4. Whether any other error is preventing the service creation operation from succeeding (look for ingress-controller, service-controller or replicaset-controller, errors in the output of kubectl logs federation-controller-manager --namespace federation).

I can create a federated ingress successfully, but request load is not correctly distributed across the underlying clusters

Check that:

  1. the services underlying your federated ingress in each cluster have identical node ports. See above for further explanation.
  2. the load balancer controllers in each of your clusters are of the correct type ("GLBC") and have been correctly reconfigured by the federation control plane to share a global GCE load balancer (this should happen automatically). If they of the correct type, and have been correctly reconfigured, the UID data item in the GLBC configmap in each cluster will be identical across all clusters. See the GLBC docs for further details. If this is not the case, check the logs of your federation controller manager to determine why this automated reconfiguration might be failing.
  3. no ingresses have been manually created in any of your clusters before the above reconfiguration of the load balancer controller completed successfully. Ingresses created before the reconfiguration of your GLBC will interfere with the behavior of your federated ingresses created after the reconfiguration (see the GLBC docs for further information. To remedy this, delete any ingresses created before the cluster joined the federation (and had it's GLBC reconfigured), and recreate them if necessary.

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