DEV Community

Cover image for Deep dive into Kubernetes architecture and Pod Networking

Posted on

Deep dive into Kubernetes architecture and Pod Networking


Kubernetes has become the industry standard for container orchestration and management, enabling organizations to deploy and manage containerized applications at scale with ease. One of the key advantages of Kubernetes is its ability to abstract the underlying infrastructure, allowing applications to be deployed consistently across multiple environments, including public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services(AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, as well as on-premises data centers. To fully utilize the capabilities of Kubernetes, it is essential to have a deep understanding of its architecture. Kubernetes architecture comprises several components and layers that work together to provide a highly scalable, fault-tolerant, and efficient platform for deploying and managing containerized applications.

One of the key concepts in Kubernetes networking is the Pod. A Pod represents a single instance of a container or a group of tightly coupled containers that share the same network namespace, storage, and other resources. Pods enable developers to create and manage complex applications by grouping related containers and providing them with a shared context. This article will dive deep into Kubernetes, understand its architecture, and explore its relation to Pod networking.


To fully understand the topic, you should have a good grasp of the following prerequisites:

  • Basic knowledge of containerization concepts like Docker
  • Basic knowledge of Kubernetes
  • Linux CLI
  • YAML
  • Cloud infrastructure
  • Microservices architecture

What is Kubernetes Architecture?

Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform used for deploying, managing, and scaling containerized applications. The Kubernetes cluster is comprised of a set of interconnected nodes, each of which is responsible for running containerized workloads. At a high level, a Kubernetes cluster is made up of a master node and multiple worker nodes. The master node is responsible for managing the overall state of the cluster, while the worker nodes are responsible for running the applications and workloads.

Master node component

The master node is the most important part of the Kubernetes architecture. It serves as the starting point for all administrative tasks. There is always one node to check for fault tolerance.

The master node has various components, such as:

  • API Server: This is the main entry point for interacting with the Kubernetes cluster. It exposes the Kubernetes API, which allows users and applications to create, read, update, and delete Kubernetes resources (such as pods, deployments, services, e.t.c.).

  • ETCD: This is the distributed key-value store that Kubernetes uses to store the state of the cluster. All of the Kubernetes resources and configuration data are stored in ETCD.

  • Controller Manager: This component includes several controllers that are responsible for maintaining the desired state of the cluster. For example, the replication controller ensures that the specified number of pod replicas are always running, while the node controller monitors the health of the worker nodes.
    Scheduler: This component is responsible for scheduling pods onto the worker nodes based on various constraints and requirements (such as resource availability, node affinity, etc.).

  • Kubectl: Kubectl is in charge of the Kubernetes cluster manager. The syntax is typically kubectl [flags].

How do Master Components works?

The Master Component is the central control plane in a Kubernetes cluster, responsible for managing and coordinating all cluster operations. It includes several controllers that are responsible for different tasks.

  • Replication Controller Function: The Replication Controller ensures that the desired number of replicas of a pod is always running in the cluster. If a pod fails or is terminated, the Replication Controller replaces it with a new one. For example, if you have a web application running in a pod and want to ensure that at least three replicas of the pod are always running for redundancy and high availability, you can create a Replication Controller for that pod.

  • Node Controller Utility: The Node Controller monitors the state of nodes in the cluster and takes action if a node becomes unavailable or unresponsive. It makes sure that pods running on that node are rescheduled to other available nodes. For example, if a node fails due to a hardware issue or network outage, the Node Controller will ensure that the pods running on that node are rescheduled to other nodes in the cluster.

  • Endpoints Controller: The Endpoints Controller manages the endpoints object in Kubernetes, which represents a set of IP addresses and ports where a service is available. It ensures that the endpoints are always up to date with the current set of pods that are running the service. For example, if you have a web application running on a set of pods, the Endpoints Controller ensures that the endpoints object for that service is updated with the IP addresses and ports of the pods.

  • Service Account and Token Controllers: The Service Account and Token Controllers manage service accounts and authentication tokens in Kubernetes. Service accounts are used by pods to authenticate with the Kubernetes API server, and tokens are used to authenticate external clients with the API server. For example, if you have an external monitoring tool that needs to access the Kubernetes API, you can create a service account and token for that tool using the Service Account and Token Controllers.

  • Cloud-controller-manager: The Cloud-controller-manager is a component that runs cloud-specific controllers in Kubernetes. It interacts with cloud provider APIs to manage resources such as load balancers, volumes, and nodes. For example, if you are running your Kubernetes cluster on a cloud provider such as AWS or GCP, the Cloud-controller-manager will manage the creation and deletion of load balancers, volumes, and nodes in that cloud environment.

Other worker node components

  • Kubelet: This component runs on each worker node and is responsible for managing the pods running on that node. It communicates with the API server to receive pod definitions, starts and stops containers as needed, and reports the status of the pods back to the API server.

  • Pod: A pod is a collection of one or more containers that are managed as a single application. It encapsulates application containers, and storage resources, and is identified by a unique network ID as well as other configurations that govern container operation.

  • Docker: Docker is a fundamental requirement for nodes. It enables the applications to run in a secure but lightweight operating environment. It executes the configured pods. It is in charge of downloading and running containers from Docker images.

  • Kubernetes Proxy: Serves as a load balancer and network proxy on a single worker node. It manages pods on nodes, volumes, secrets, container creation, health checks, and so on. A proxy service that runs on each node and provides services to the external host.

  • Container Runtime: This is the software that runs the containers on each worker node. Kubernetes supports multiple container runtimes, including Docker, containers, and CRI-O.

Here's a diagram that shows the basic structure of a Kubernetes cluster:


Simple Installation and Setup of a Kubernetes Cluster

In this section, we will describe a simple approach to setting up a Kubernetes cluster. Here it goes:

  • Choose a Platform: The first step is to select a platform for deploying your Kubernetes cluster. You have a variety of platforms to choose from, including Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), and any other cloud provider that supports Kubernetes.

  • Set up the Environment: Once you've decided on a platform, you'll need to configure it. This includes setting up an account, billing, and configuring the necessary tools and services.

  • Install Kubernetes: The next step is to install Kubernetes on your platform. Most cloud providers provide a simple installation process that requires only a few clicks to set up a cluster.

  • Configure the Cluster: Once Kubernetes is installed, you need to configure the cluster. This involves setting up networking, storage, and other resources that are required for your applications.

  • Deploy Applications: With your Kubernetes cluster set up and configured, it's time to deploy your applications. You can deploy applications using Kubernetes manifests, which are YAML files that define the desired state of your application.

  • Monitor and Scale: Once your applications are deployed, you need to monitor them and scale them as needed. Kubernetes provides several tools for monitoring and scaling applications, such as the Kubernetes Dashboard and the Horizontal Pod Autoscaler.

Alternative Approach to Setting Up a Cluster through Hosted Kubernetes

Hosted Kubernetes is a cloud-based solution that allows users to deploy, manage and scale Kubernetes clusters without having to manage the underlying infrastructure. Examples of Hosted Kubernetes platforms include Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), and Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). These platforms offer different features and pricing options, making it easier for users to find a solution that best fits their needs. However, some users may prefer an alternative approach to setting up a cluster through Hosted Kubernetes. One such alternative is using a managed Kubernetes service provided by a cloud hosting provider, such as Linode Kubernetes Manager. Linode Kubernetes Manager is a fully managed Kubernetes service that provides an easy-to-use interface for deploying and managing Kubernetes clusters on Linode's infrastructure. With Linode Kubernetes Manager, users can create a cluster with a few clicks and start deploying containerized applications right away.

To set up a cluster on Linode Kubernetes Manager, users first need to create a Linode account and log in to the Linode Cloud Manager. They can then navigate to the Kubernetes section and choose to create a new cluster. From there, they can select the desired cluster configuration, such as the number of nodes and the Kubernetes version. Once the cluster is created, users can connect to it using Kubectl or the Linode Kubernetes CLI. The Linode Kubernetes Manager offers an advantage over Hosted Kubernetes platforms by providing users with greater control over the infrastructure. This includes the ability to select a specific Linode data center for their cluster deployment and configure advanced networking options like load balancing and private networking.

Introducing Kubernetes Pod Networking

Pod networking is an essential aspect of Kubernetes as it enables seamless communication and coordination among the various components involved in container orchestration. The listed components, namely containers, pods, and nodes, form a crucial part of the Pod network.

Containers are the fundamental building blocks of applications deployed on Kubernetes, and they run inside pods. Pods are a higher-level abstraction that provides a logical host for containers, making it possible to manage them as a single unit. Nodes, on the other hand, are physical or virtual machines that run the Kubernetes software and execute the application workload.

In a Pod network, containers within a Pod can communicate with each other using the loopback network interface. The Pod itself has a unique IP address, which enables communication with other Pods in the same cluster. The nodes provide the underlying networking infrastructure that allows Pods to communicate with each other, both within the same node and across different nodes.

Therefore, the components listed above are interrelated and work together to form a robust and flexible networking layer that supports efficient communication and coordination among Kubernetes workloads.

Principles of Kubernetes Network Model

The Kubernetes network model is a set of principles that guide how network communication between Kubernetes Pods and Nodes is established and maintained.

  • The first principle of the Kubernetes network model is that all Pods can communicate with all other Pods without using network address translation (NAT). This means that each Pod has its unique IP address and can communicate directly with other Pods in the same cluster without any additional network configuration. This simplifies the networking setup and enables applications to communicate seamlessly within the cluster.

  • The second principle is that all Nodes can communicate with all Pods without NAT. This allows Nodes to access the Pods they are hosting without any network translation. This is important because Nodes may need to communicate with Pods for various reasons such as health checks, logging, and monitoring. By enabling this direct communication, Kubernetes can provide a reliable and scalable infrastructure for containerized applications.

  • The third principle of the Kubernetes network model is that the IP that a Pod sees itself as is the same IP that others see it as. This means that the Pod's IP address is consistent across the cluster, regardless of which Node it is running on. This allows for predictable network behavior, making it easier to manage and troubleshoot network-related issues.

Components of Kubernetes Networking

Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration system that offers a rich set of networking features to facilitate communication between containers and services within a cluster. In this context, Kubernetes networking components are the building blocks that enable different types of network communication within a Kubernetes cluster.

  1. LoadBalancer: A LoadBalancer is a Kubernetes networking component that exposes a service to the outside world via a specific IP address and port. It enables load balancing and distribution of traffic across multiple replicas of a service running in the cluster. The LoadBalancer component is often used in production environments where high availability and scalability are critical.

  2. ClusterIP: ClusterIP is a Kubernetes networking component that exposes a service on an internal IP address within the cluster. This IP address is accessible only within the cluster and is not exposed to the outside world. This component is ideal for internal communication within the cluster, as it provides a simple and efficient way to communicate between services without the need for external load balancers.

  3. NodePort: NodePort is a Kubernetes networking component that exposes a service on a specific port of each node in the cluster. This allows external traffic to access the service directly through any node in the cluster. NodePort is often used during the development and testing phases, as it provides a quick and easy way to expose a service to the outside world.

  4. Ingress: Ingress is a Kubernetes networking component that provides a way to expose HTTP and HTTPS services to the outside world. It acts as a layer between the service and external traffic, enabling traffic routing based on the requested URL. Ingress allows users to configure custom rules for traffic routing, SSL/TLS termination, and load balancing. Ingress is often used in production environments to provide a secure and scalable way to expose services to the outside world.

How does Networking work in Kubernetes?

Networking is a fundamental aspect of Kubernetes, enabling seamless communication between containerized applications within a cluster and the outside world. In Kubernetes, networking is designed to be flexible, scalable, and secure, and it involves several components and mechanisms that work together to provide reliable and efficient communication between different entities within the cluster. Let's explore some of the key networking mechanisms in Kubernetes:

Container-to-Container networking: Container-to-container networking is the basic mechanism that enables communication between different containers running on the same node. Each container has its unique IP address, and communication between containers is handled by the Kubernetes networking plugin, which provides a virtual network interface for each container.

Pod-to-Pod networking: A Pod is the smallest deployable unit in Kubernetes, and it can contain one or more containers that share the same network namespace. Pod-to-Pod networking enables the communication between different Pods running on the same or different nodes within the cluster. This communication is handled by the Kubernetes networking plugin, which assigns a unique IP address to each Pod.

Pod-to-Service networking: In Kubernetes, a Service is an abstraction that provides a stable IP address and DNS name for a set of Pods. Pod-to-Service networking enables the communication between a Pod and a Service. The Kubernetes networking plugin handles the routing of traffic from the Pod to the Service, which can span multiple Pods running on different nodes within the cluster.

Internet-to-Service networking: Kubernetes provides several mechanisms to enable communication between Services and external clients over the internet. These mechanisms include NodePort, LoadBalancer, and Ingress. NodePort exposes a Service on a specific port on each node, LoadBalancer assigns an external IP address to a Service, and Ingress provides a way to route traffic to different Services based on the requested URL.


In conclusion, Kubernetes is a powerful tool for deploying and managing containerized applications at scale. By abstracting the underlying infrastructure, Kubernetes enables deployment to various cloud providers and on-premises data centers. This article has taken a deep dive into Kubernetes architecture, discussing the structure of the Kubernetes cluster, its Master and Node components, and how they work. We also explored practical approaches to setting up a Kubernetes cluster, including an alternative through Hosted Kubernetes. Furthermore, we delved into the crucial topic of Pod networking and its underlying principles and models. Finally, we explored the components of Kubernetes networking and how networking works in Kubernetes, from container-to-container networking to internet-to-service networking. By understanding Kubernetes architecture and Pod networking, you will be better equipped to deploy and manage your containerized applications effectively.

Top comments (0)