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High Availability Considerations

This document contains a collection of community-provided considerations for setting up High Availability Kubernetes clusters. If something is incomplete, not clear or for additional information, please feel free to create a PR for a contribution. A good place for asking questions or making remarks is the #kubeadm channel on the Kubernetes slack where most of the contributors are usually active.

Overview

When setting up a production cluster, high availability (the cluster's ability to remain operational even if some control plane or worker nodes fail) is usually a requirement. For worker nodes, assuming that there are enough of them, this is part of the very cluster functionality. However redundancy of control plane nodes and etcd instances needs to be catered for when planning and setting up a cluster.

kubeadm supports setting up of multi control plane and multi etcd clusters (see Creating Highly Available clusters with kubeadm for a step-by-step guide). Still there are some aspects to consider and set up which are not part of Kubernetes itself and hence not covered in the project documentation. This document provides some additional information and examples useful when planning and bootstrapping HA clusters with kubeadm.

Options for Software Load Balancing

When setting up a cluster with more than one control plane, higher availability can be achieved by putting the API Server instances behind a load balancer and using the --control-plane-endpoint option when running kubeadm init for the new cluster to use it.

Of course, the load balancer itself should be highly available, too. This is usually achieved by adding redundancy to the load balancer. In order to do so, a cluster of hosts managing a virtual IP is set up with each host running an instance of the load balancer, so that always the load balancer on the host currently holding the vIP will be used while the others are on standby.

In some environments, like in data centers with dedicated load balancing components (provided e.g. by some cloud-providers), this functionality may already be available. If it is not, user-managed load balancing can be used. In that case some preparation is necessary before bootstrapping a cluster.

Since this is not part of Kubernetes or kubeadm, this must be taken care of separately. In the following sections, we give examples that have been working for some people while of course there are potentially dozens of other possible configurations.

keepalived and haproxy

For providing load balancing from a virtual IP the combination keepalived and haproxy has been around for a long time and can be considered well-known and well-tested:

  • The keepalived service provides a virtual IP managed by a configurable health check. Due to the way the virtual IP is implemented, all the hosts between which the virtual IP is negotiated need to be in the same IP subnet.
  • The haproxy service can be configured for simple stream-based load balancing thus allowing TLS termination to be handled by the API Server instances behind it.

This combination can be run either as services on the operating system or as static pods on the control plane hosts. The service configuration is identical for both cases.

keepalived configuration

The keepalived configuration consists of two files: the service configuration file and a health check script which will be called periodically to verify that the node holding the virtual IP is still operational.

The files are assumed to reside in a /etc/keepalived directory. Note that however some Linux distributions may keep them elsewhere. The following configuration has been successfully used with keepalived version 2.0.17:

! /etc/keepalived/keepalived.conf
! Configuration File for keepalived
global_defs {
    router_id LVS_DEVEL
}
vrrp_script check_apiserver {
  script "/etc/keepalived/check_apiserver.sh"
  interval 3
  weight -2
  fall 10
  rise 2
}

vrrp_instance VI_1 {
    state ${STATE}
    interface ${INTERFACE}
    virtual_router_id ${ROUTER_ID}
    priority ${PRIORITY}
    authentication {
        auth_type PASS
        auth_pass ${AUTH_PASS}
    }
    virtual_ipaddress {
        ${APISERVER_VIP}
    }
    track_script {
        check_apiserver
    }
}

There are some placeholders in bash variable style to fill in:

  • ${STATE} is MASTER for one and BACKUP for all other hosts, hence the virtual IP will initially be assigned to the MASTER.
  • ${INTERFACE} is the network interface taking part in the negotiation of the virtual IP, e.g. eth0.
  • ${ROUTER_ID} should be the same for all keepalived cluster hosts while unique amongst all clusters in the same subnet. Many distros pre-configure its value to 51.
  • ${PRIORITY} should be higher on the control plane node than on the backups. Hence 101 and 100 respectively will suffice.
  • ${AUTH_PASS} should be the same for all keepalived cluster hosts, e.g. 42
  • ${APISERVER_VIP} is the virtual IP address negotiated between the keepalived cluster hosts.

The above keepalived configuration uses a health check script /etc/keepalived/check_apiserver.sh responsible for making sure that on the node holding the virtual IP the API Server is available. This script could look like this:

#!/bin/sh

errorExit() {
    echo "*** $*" 1>&2
    exit 1
}

curl --silent --max-time 2 --insecure https://localhost:${APISERVER_DEST_PORT}/ -o /dev/null || errorExit "Error GET https://localhost:${APISERVER_DEST_PORT}/"
if ip addr | grep -q ${APISERVER_VIP}; then
    curl --silent --max-time 2 --insecure https://${APISERVER_VIP}:${APISERVER_DEST_PORT}/ -o /dev/null || errorExit "Error GET https://${APISERVER_VIP}:${APISERVER_DEST_PORT}/"
fi

There are some placeholders in bash variable style to fill in:

  • ${APISERVER_VIP} is the virtual IP address negotiated between the keepalived cluster hosts.
  • ${APISERVER_DEST_PORT} the port through which Kubernetes will talk to the API Server.

haproxy configuration

The haproxy configuration consists of one file: the service configuration file which is assumed to reside in a /etc/haproxy directory. Note that however some Linux distributions may keep them elsewhere. The following configuration has been successfully used with haproxy version 2.1.4:

# /etc/haproxy/haproxy.cfg
#---------------------------------------------------------------------
# Global settings
#---------------------------------------------------------------------
global
    log /dev/log local0
    log /dev/log local1 notice
    daemon

#---------------------------------------------------------------------
# common defaults that all the 'listen' and 'backend' sections will
# use if not designated in their block
#---------------------------------------------------------------------
defaults
    mode                    http
    log                     global
    option                  httplog
    option                  dontlognull
    option http-server-close
    option forwardfor       except 127.0.0.0/8
    option                  redispatch
    retries                 1
    timeout http-request    10s
    timeout queue           20s
    timeout connect         5s
    timeout client          20s
    timeout server          20s
    timeout http-keep-alive 10s
    timeout check           10s

#---------------------------------------------------------------------
# apiserver frontend which proxys to the control plane nodes
#---------------------------------------------------------------------
frontend apiserver
    bind *:${APISERVER_DEST_PORT}
    mode tcp
    option tcplog
    default_backend apiserver

#---------------------------------------------------------------------
# round robin balancing for apiserver
#---------------------------------------------------------------------
backend apiserver
    option httpchk GET /healthz
    http-check expect status 200
    mode tcp
    option ssl-hello-chk
    balance     roundrobin
        server ${HOST1_ID} ${HOST1_ADDRESS}:${APISERVER_SRC_PORT} check
        # [...]

Again, there are some placeholders in bash variable style to expand:

  • ${APISERVER_DEST_PORT} the port through which Kubernetes will talk to the API Server.
  • ${APISERVER_SRC_PORT} the port used by the API Server instances
  • ${HOST1_ID} a symbolic name for the first load-balanced API Server host
  • ${HOST1_ADDRESS} a resolvable address (DNS name, IP address) for the first load-balanced API Server host
  • additional server lines, one for each load-balanced API Server host

Option 1: Run the services on the operating system

In order to run the two services on the operating system, the respective distribution's package manager can be used to install the software. This can make sense if they will be running on dedicated hosts not part of the Kubernetes cluster.

Having now installed the abovementioned configuration, the services can be enabled and started. On a recent RedHat-based system, systemd will be used for this:

# systemctl enable haproxy --now
# systemctl enable keepalived --now

With the services up, now the Kubernetes cluster can be bootstrapped using kubeadm init (see below).

Option 2: Run the services as static pods

If keepalived and haproxy will be running on the control plane nodes they can be configured to run as static pods. All that is necessary here is placing respective manifest files in the /etc/kubernetes/manifests directory before bootstrapping the cluster. During the bootstrap process, kubelet will bring the processes up, so that the cluster can use them while starting. This is an elegant solution, in particular with the setup described under Stacked control plane and etcd nodes.

For this setup, two manifest files need to be created in /etc/kubernetes/manifests (create the directory first).

The manifest for keepalived, /etc/kubernetes/manifests/keepalived.yaml:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: null
  name: keepalived
  namespace: kube-system
spec:
  containers:
  - image: osixia/keepalived:2.0.17
    name: keepalived
    resources: {}
    securityContext:
      capabilities:
        add:
        - NET_ADMIN
        - NET_BROADCAST
        - NET_RAW
    volumeMounts:
    - mountPath: /usr/local/etc/keepalived/keepalived.conf
      name: config
    - mountPath: /etc/keepalived/check_apiserver.sh
      name: check
  hostNetwork: true
  volumes:
  - hostPath:
      path: /etc/keepalived/keepalived.conf
    name: config
  - hostPath:
      path: /etc/keepalived/check_apiserver.sh
    name: check
status: {}

The manifest for haproxy, /etc/kubernetes/manifests/haproxy.yaml:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: haproxy
  namespace: kube-system
spec:
  containers:
  - image: haproxy:2.1.4
    name: haproxy
    livenessProbe:
      failureThreshold: 8
      httpGet:
        host: localhost
        path: /healthz
        port: ${APISERVER_DEST_PORT}
        scheme: HTTPS
    volumeMounts:
    - mountPath: /usr/local/etc/haproxy/haproxy.cfg
      name: haproxyconf
      readOnly: true
  hostNetwork: true
  volumes:
  - hostPath:
      path: /etc/haproxy/haproxy.cfg
      type: FileOrCreate
    name: haproxyconf
status: {}

Note that here again a placeholder needs to be filled in: ${APISERVER_DEST_PORT} needs to hold the same value as in /etc/haproxy/haproxy.cfg (see above).

This combination has been successfully used with the versions used in the example. Other versions might work as well or may require changes to the configuration files.

With the services up, now the Kubernetes cluster can be bootstrapped using kubeadm init (see below).

kube-vip

As an alternative to the more "traditional" approach of keepalived and haproxy, kube-vip implements both management of a virtual IP and load balancing in one service. It can be implemented in bother layer2 (with ARP, and leaderElection) or layer3 utilising BGP peering. Similar to option 2 above, kube-vip will be run as a static pod on the control plane nodes.

Like with keepalived, the hosts negotiating a virtual IP need to be in the same IP subnet. Similarly, like with haproxy, stream-based load-balancing allows TLS termination to be handled by the API Server instances behind it.

NOTE kube-vip requires access to the API server, especially during a cluster initialisation (during the kubeadm init phase). At this point the admin.conf is the only kubeconfig that is available to kube-vip to authenticate and communicate with the API-server. Post cluster stand up it is recommended that a user sign a custom client kubeconfig and rotate it manually on expiration.

Generating a Manifest

This section details creating a number of manifests for various use cases

Set configuration details

export VIP=192.168.0.40`
export INTERFACE=<interface>

Configure to use a container runtime

Get latest version

We can parse the GitHub API to find the latest version (or we can set this manually)

KVVERSION=$(curl -sL https://api.github.com/repos/kube-vip/kube-vip/releases | jq -r ".[0].name")

or manually:

export KVVERSION=vx.x.x

The easiest method to generate a manifest is using the container itself, below will create an alias for different container runtimes.

containerd

alias kube-vip="ctr run --rm --net-host ghcr.io/kube-vip/kube-vip:$KVVERSION vip /kube-vip"

Docker

alias kube-vip="docker run --network host --rm ghcr.io/kube-vip/kube-vip:$KVVERSION"

ARP

This configuration will create a manifest that starts kube-vip providing controlplane and services management, using leaderElection. When this instance is elected as the leader it will bind the vip to the specified interface, this is also the same for services of type:LoadBalancer.

export INTERFACE=eth0

kube-vip manifest pod \
    --interface $INTERFACE \
    --vip $VIP \
    --controlplane \
    --arp \
    --leaderElection | tee /etc/kubernetes/manifests/kube-vip.yaml

Example manifest

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: null
  name: kube-vip
  namespace: kube-system
spec:
  containers:
  - args:
    - manager
    env:
    - name: vip_arp
      value: "true"
    - name: port
      value: "6443"
    - name: vip_interface
      value: ens192
    - name: vip_cidr
      value: "32"
    - name: cp_enable
      value: "true"
    - name: cp_namespace
      value: kube-system
    - name: vip_ddns
      value: "false"
    - name: vip_leaderelection
      value: "true"
    - name: vip_leaseduration
      value: "5"
    - name: vip_renewdeadline
      value: "3"
    - name: vip_retryperiod
      value: "1"
    - name: vip_address
      value: 192.168.0.40
    image: ghcr.io/kube-vip/kube-vip:v0.4.0
    imagePullPolicy: Always
    name: kube-vip
    resources: {}
    securityContext:
      capabilities:
        add:
        - NET_ADMIN
        - NET_RAW
        - SYS_TIME
    volumeMounts:
    - mountPath: /etc/kubernetes/admin.conf
      name: kubeconfig
  hostAliases:
  - hostnames:
    - kubernetes
    ip: 127.0.0.1
  hostNetwork: true
  volumes:
  - hostPath:
      path: /etc/kubernetes/admin.conf
    name: kubeconfig
status: {}

BGP

This configuration will create a manifest that will start kube-vip providing controlplane and services management. Unlike ARP, all nodes in the BGP configuration will advertise virtual IP addresses.

Note we bind the address to lo as we don't want multiple devices that have the same address on public interfaces. We can specify all the peers in a comma seperated list in the format of address:AS:password:multihop.

export INTERFACE=lo

kube-vip manifest pod \
    --interface $INTERFACE \
    --vip $VIP \
    --controlplane \
    --bgp \
    --localAS 65000 \
    --bgpRouterID 192.168.0.2 \
    --bgppeers 192.168.0.10:65000::false,192.168.0.11:65000::false | tee /etc/kubernetes/manifests/kube-vip.yaml

Example Manifest

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: null
  name: kube-vip
  namespace: kube-system
spec:
  containers:
  - args:
    - manager
    env:
    - name: vip_arp
      value: "false"
    - name: port
      value: "6443"
    - name: vip_interface
      value: ens192
    - name: vip_cidr
      value: "32"
    - name: cp_enable
      value: "true"
    - name: cp_namespace
      value: kube-system
    - name: vip_ddns
      value: "false"
    - name: bgp_enable
      value: "true"
    - name: bgp_routerid
      value: 192.168.0.2
    - name: bgp_as
      value: "65000"
    - name: bgp_peeraddress
    - name: bgp_peerpass
    - name: bgp_peeras
      value: "65000"
    - name: bgp_peers
      value: 192.168.0.10:65000::false,192.168.0.11:65000::false
    - name: vip_address
      value: 192.168.0.40
    image: ghcr.io/kube-vip/kube-vip:v0.4.0
    imagePullPolicy: Always
    name: kube-vip
    resources: {}
    securityContext:
      capabilities:
        add:
        - NET_ADMIN
        - NET_RAW
        - SYS_TIME
    volumeMounts:
    - mountPath: /etc/kubernetes/admin.conf
      name: kubeconfig
  hostAliases:
  - hostnames:
    - kubernetes
    ip: 127.0.0.1
  hostNetwork: true
  volumes:
  - hostPath:
      path: /etc/kubernetes/admin.conf
    name: kubeconfig
status: {}

With the services up, now the Kubernetes cluster can be bootstrapped using kubeadm init (see below).

Bootstrap the cluster

Now the actual cluster bootstrap as described in Creating Highly Available clusters with kubeadm can take place.

Note that, if ${APISERVER_DEST_PORT} has been configured to a value different from 6443 in the configuration above, kubeadm init needs to be told to use that port for the API Server. Assuming that in a new cluster port 8443 is used for the load-balanced API Server and a virtual IP with the DNS name vip.mycluster.local, an argument --control-plane-endpoint needs to be passed to kubeadm as follows:

# kubeadm init --control-plane-endpoint vip.mycluster.local:8443 [additional arguments ...]