Kubernetes for Network Engineers

Updated 29 Sep 2023


In the current era of cloud computing, where software-defined infrastructure rules the roost, Kubernetes has become more than a mere buzzword. It has grown into a cornerstone technology, transforming the way we deploy and manage applications at scale. For network engineers, it represents a paradigm shift that underscores the need for continuous learning and adaptability. In this article, we will embark on a journey to explore the world of Kubernetes from a network engineer’s perspective, unraveling its intricacies and understanding its impact on modern networking.

The Building Blocks of Kubernetes

Kubernetes is composed of several interlinked components, each playing a crucial role in its overall functioning. Let’s break down these building blocks to better understand how Kubernetes works.


In Kubernetes, a node represents an individual machine in a cluster. This machine could be a physical computer residing in a traditional data center, or it could be a virtual machine operating in a public or private cloud. Each node hosts a set of pods and is managed by a component called the Kubernetes master, which oversees the orchestration of containers on these nodes.


Each node runs several services necessary for Kubernetes to function correctly. Among these are a container runtime like Docker, a kubelet (the primary node agent), and a network proxy, typically kube-proxy. The combination of these elements ensures that your containers are efficiently scheduled and executed on the nodes, contributing to the robustness of your applications.


A Kubernetes cluster, in simple terms, is a group of nodes working together. This cluster is the primary operational environment for Kubernetes, providing a platform where you can run your containerized applications. Orchestrating these operations is the Kubernetes control plane (also known as the master), which monitors the state of the cluster and makes adjustments as needed to maintain the desired state.


The control plane is made up of multiple components, including the kube-apiserver, etcd, kube-scheduler, and kube-controller-manager, each playing a crucial role. For instance, kube-apiserver exposes the Kubernetes API and is the front-end for the control plane. At the same time, etcd is a consistent and highly-available key-value store that Kubernetes uses as its backing store for all cluster data.

Persistent Volumes

The ephemeral nature of containers, where they can be stopped and started, or die and respawn, poses a significant challenge: data persistence. To address this, Kubernetes introduces the concept of Persistent Volumes (PVs). A PV is a piece of networked storage in the cluster that has been provisioned by an administrator. It is a resource in the cluster just like a node and is independent of any individual pod that uses the PV.


This decoupling of storage from the pod lifecycle means that the data outlives the pod, ensuring that your applications don’t lose data when pods are rescheduled or restarted.

Containers and Microservices

In the Kubernetes ecosystem, applications are segmented into containers. Containers are, in essence, lightweight, standalone, and executable packages that include everything needed to run a piece of software, including the code, runtime, system tools, system libraries, and settings. This bundling ensures that the application runs consistently across various computing environments.


The use of containers encourages the design of applications using a microservices architecture. In this architectural style, complex applications are broken down into smaller, loosely coupled, and independently deployable services. This approach provides several benefits, including improved scalability, resilience, and faster, safer deployment cycles.


A Kubernetes pod is the smallest and simplest unit that you can create or deploy in Kubernetes. Each pod encapsulates an application container (or, in some cases, multiple containers), storage resources, a unique network IP, and options that dictate how the container(s) should run.


Containers within a pod share an IP address and port space and can communicate with one another using localhost. They can also share storage volumes, allowing data to be shared between containers in the same pod.


Deployments represent a significant step up from individual pods in the Kubernetes abstraction ladder. A Deployment in Kubernetes manages the creation and scaling of pods. It allows you to describe the desired state of your system, and the Deployment controller changes the actual state to the desired state at a controlled rate.


Deployments help manage updates to your applications and allow you to roll back to a previous version if something goes wrong. This roll-back capability is vital for maintaining the stability of your applications during updates.

Services and Service Meshes

In Kubernetes, a Service is an abstraction that defines a logical set of pods and the policy by which to access them. While pods come and go, a Service remains consistent across the changes, providing a reliable means to reach the running pods.


On the other hand, a Service Mesh is a dedicated infrastructure layer for handling service-to-service communication in a microservices architecture. It’s responsible for the reliable delivery of requests in complex, dynamic environments, often offering features such as traffic management, service discovery, load balancing, and end-to-end encryption.

Networking in Kubernetes

Networking is a pivotal aspect of Kubernetes, given its role in ensuring seamless communication between different components. It’s worthwhile to understand some of the key facets of Kubernetes networking:


  • Container-to-container communications: Containers in the same pod can communicate with each other directly using localhost. This capability is crucial for multi-container pods where containers need to work together to deliver a service.
  • Pod-to-pod communications: In Kubernetes, every pod gets its unique IP address, enabling direct communication between different pods without requiring Network Address Translation (NAT).
  • Pod-to-service communications: Services allow pods to be reachable through a single IP address. They abstract the set of pods that constitute a service, enabling loose coupling between pods and consumers of the service.
  • External-to-service communications: Kubernetes provides several ways to expose Services to external traffic, including NodePort, LoadBalancer, and Ingress. These methods allow external clients to access services running in the cluster.

Stack Persistency Across a Physical Network and Kubernetes

One of the challenges in Kubernetes networking is ensuring the continuity of networking rules across both the physical network infrastructure and the Kubernetes environment. This means applying network policies that govern traffic between pods and between pods and the outside world.


These policies help ensure that the network’s security, performance, and behavior characteristics are maintained regardless of where a container is scheduled to run. They provide fine-grained control over network communication, thereby enhancing the security posture of your Kubernetes deployments.


To wrap up, Kubernetes introduces a paradigm shift in network concepts that network engineers need to understand. It’s a deep and rich ecosystem that provides extensive flexibility and control over how you deploy and manage your applications. As a network engineer, understanding Kubernetes networking will not only enhance your skill set but will also provide valuable insights into the future of networked applications and services. So, immerse yourself in the fascinating world of Kubernetes and stay ahead in the ever-evolving technological landscape.



At Ostride Labs, we understand that every business is unique, and so are its tech requirements. Our expertise lies in helping you navigate the complex world of modern technology, from assessing your needs, recommending the most appropriate technology stack, setting up your infrastructure, to providing ongoing support and optimization.

Whether you’re exploring the potential of Kubernetes or considering alternative solutions, our team of experienced engineers is ready to guide you. If you’re unsure if Kubernetes is the right choice for you or if you’re seeking help to implement it, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our goal is to empower you to make informed decisions and ensure your technology serves your business in the best way possible.



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