John Armstrong

Author Archives: John Armstrong

Rethinking observability for Kubernetes

Observability is a staple of high-performing software and DevOps teams. Research shows that a comprehensive observability solution, along with a number of other technical practices, positively contributes to continuous delivery and service uptime.

Observability is sometimes confused with monitoring, but there is a clear difference between the two; it’s important to understand the distinction. Observability refers to a technical solution that enables teams to actively debug a system. It is based on exploring activities, properties, and patterns that are not defined in advance. Monitoring, in contrast, is a technical solution that enables teams to watch and understand the state of their systems and is based on gathering pre-defined sets of metrics or logs.

What makes Kubernetes observability different?

Conventional observability and monitoring tools were designed for monolithic systems, observing the health and behavior of a single application instance. Complex distributed microservices architectures, like Kubernetes, are constantly changing, with hundreds and even thousands of pods being created and destroyed within minutes. Because this environment is so dynamic, pre-defined metrics and logs aren’t effective for troubleshooting issues. Conventional observability approaches, which work well in traditional, monolithic environments, are inadequate for Kubernetes. So an observability solution that is purpose-built for a distributed microservices Continue reading

High-availability connectivity for Kubernetes with dual ToR

Many platform operators in large enterprises who run Kubernetes on-premises want to leverage Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to peer with other infrastructure. Calico Enterprise uses BGP to establish connectivity between workloads without an overlay, peer with infrastructure inside and outside of the cluster, and integrate with top-of-rack (ToR) switches to provide that connectivity.

Calico ToR connectivity has existed for some time now. However, for customers with high-availability requirements, a new high availability Kubernetes capability in Calico Enterprise now supports connectivity with dual ToR switches. From an operational standpoint, a cluster that is peered to two ToR switches will still have an active link, even if one switch becomes unavailable, thus ensuring the cluster always has a network connection. Because of the two ToR switches per rack, the whole setup is often referred to as “dual ToR.”

Dual ToR peering provides a redundant path for customers with cluster applications that cannot tolerate service downtime or failure, and require a high-availability solution. Kubernetes cannot do this on its own.

More specifically, Calico:

  • Enables cluster operators to connect with, and take advantage of, dual ToR switches
  • Provides two active, independent planes of connectivity between cluster nodes when a dual plane cluster is Continue reading

What’s new in Calico Enterprise 3.7: eBPF data plane, high availability, and more!

As our enterprise customers build out large, multi-cluster Kubernetes environments, they are encountering an entirely new set of complex security, observability, and networking challenges, requiring solutions that operate at scale and can be deployed both on-premises and across multiple clouds. New features in our latest release add to the already formidable capabilities of Calico Enterprise.

New feature: High-availability connectivity for Kubernetes with dual ToR

 

Many platform operators who run Kubernetes on-premises want to leverage Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to peer with other infrastructure. Calico uses BGP to peer with infrastructure within the cluster as well as outside of the cluster, and integrates with top-of-rack (ToR) switches to provide that connectivity.

Calico ToR connectivity has existed for some time now. However, for cluster operators using BGP who need reliable, consistent connectivity to resources outside of the cluster as well as cluster nodes on different racks, Calico Enterprise dual ToR connectivity ensures high availability with active-active redundant connectivity planes between cluster nodes and ToR switches. A cluster that is peered to two ToR switches will still have an active link, even if one switch becomes unavailable, thus ensuring the cluster always has a network connection. Kubernetes cannot do this on its Continue reading

Calico Enterprise: Leverage multiple benefits from the new eBPF data plane

Calico was designed from the ground up with a pluggable data plane architecture. The Enterprise 3.6 release introduces an exciting new eBPF (extended Berkeley Packet Filter) data plane that provides multiple benefits to users.

Great performance, lower latency for load-balanced traffic

When compared with the standard Linux data plane (based on iptables), the eBPF data plane:

  • Scales to higher throughput, using less CPU per GBit
  • Natively supports Kubernetes services (without kube-proxy) in a way that:
    • Reduces latency
    • Preserves external client source IP addresses
    • Supports direct server return (DSR) for reduced latency and CPU usage
    • Uses less CPU than kube-proxy to keep the data plane in sync

The impact of NAT on source IP

The application of network address translation (NAT) by kube-proxy to incoming network connections to Kubernetes services (e.g. via a service node port) is a frequently encountered friction point with Kubernetes networking. NAT has the unfortunate side effect of removing the original client source IP address from incoming traffic. When this occurs, Kubernetes network policies can’t restrict incoming traffic from specific external clients. By the time the traffic reaches the pod it no longer has the original client IP address. For some applications, knowing the Continue reading

Announcing Calico Enterprise 3.5: New ways to automate, simplify and accelerate Kubernetes adoption and deployment

We are thrilled to announce the availability of Calico Enterprise 3.5, which delivers deep observability across the entire Kubernetes stack, from application to networking layers (L3–L7). This release also includes data plane support for Windows and eBPF, in addition to the standard Linux data plane. These new capabilities are designed to automate, simplify and accelerate Kubernetes adoption and deployment. Here are highlights from the release…

Application-level security and observability: Get the benefits of a service mesh, minus the operational complexity

The majority of operational problems inherent to deploying microservices in a distributed architecture are linked to two areas: security and observability. At the application level, the need to understand all aspects associated with service-to-service communication within the cluster becomes paramount. DevOps teams often struggle with these questions: Where is monitoring needed? How can I understand the impact of issues and effectively troubleshoot? How can I effectively protect application-level data?

If observability and security are your primary drivers for considering a service mesh, Calico provides L3–L7 observability and security without the additional overhead associated with a service mesh. Calico integrates Envoy at the node level to provide deep observability of microservices at the application level. Since HTTP is one of Continue reading

Announcing Calico Enterprise 3.5: New ways to automate, simplify and accelerate Kubernetes adoption and deployment

We are thrilled to announce the availability of Calico Enterprise 3.5, which delivers deep observability across the entire Kubernetes stack, from application to networking layers (L3–L7). This release also includes data plane support for Windows and eBPF, in addition to the standard Linux data plane. These new capabilities are designed to automate, simplify and accelerate Kubernetes adoption and deployment. Here are highlights from the release…

Application-level security and observability: Get the benefits of a service mesh, minus the operational complexity

The majority of operational problems inherent to deploying microservices in a distributed architecture are linked to two areas: security and observability. At the application level, the need to understand all aspects associated with service-to-service communication within the cluster becomes paramount. DevOps teams often struggle with these questions: Where is monitoring needed? How can I understand the impact of issues and effectively troubleshoot? How can I effectively protect application-level data?

If observability and security are your primary drivers for considering a service mesh, Calico provides L3–L7 observability and security without the additional overhead associated with a service mesh. Calico integrates Envoy at the node level to provide deep observability of microservices at the application level. Since HTTP is one of Continue reading

Tigera and Microsoft Extend the Power of Calico for Windows to AKS

Tigera, in collaboration with Microsoft, is thrilled to announce the public preview of Calico for Windows on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). While Calico has been available for self-managed Kubernetes workloads on Azure since 2018, many organizations are migrating their .NET and Windows workloads to the managed Kubernetes environment offered by AKS. Now the leading open-source Kubernetes network policy and security solution for Kubernetes enables Windows users to fulfill their policy and compliance requirements on Azure Kubernetes Service.

With the availability of Calico for Windows on AKS in public preview, enterprises can leverage the power and simplicity of Calico to enable a single solution that provides uniform Kubernetes network policy and security for their clusters across AKS, other clouds and on-premises, as well as across their choice of Windows, Linux, and mixed-node environments.

Project Calico is the most widely adopted open-source solution for Kubernetes networking and security, used on more than 1 million nodes across 166 countries. However, thousands of our users want to be sure that choosing Calico is the right decision for many years to come. Calico is the only solution that offers a pluggable data plane supporting Windows, standard Linux and eBPF, thus future-proofing their decision Continue reading

Calico Enterprise: An Overview

As we enter a new year, it’s an appropriate time to reflect on our achievements at Tigera and how much Calico Enterprise has evolved over the past year as the industry’s leading Security and Observability solution for Kubernetes Networking and Microservices. Our experience working with enterprise-class early adopters has helped us to identify the most critical requirements for them to operationalize their Kubernetes deployments and successfully make the challenging transition from pilot to production. These learnings have helped us to shape today’s Calico Enterprise, which is visually represented in this solutions architecture diagram. Let’s dig into this feature-rich layer cake of functionality, from bottom to top!

Calico Enterprise Solutions Architecture

Calico Enterprise is “Kube-native”

But first, there are some important things to keep in mind as we explore. Calico Enterprise is a Kubernetes-native solution – Kube-native – in which everything we do is an extension of Kubernetes primitives. We leverage the full power of Kubernetes by integrating with the Kubernetes API server and creating our own aggregated API server. We use an operator model to access and control custom resources to perform specific functions, like RBAC for example, natively in Kubernetes. Being Kubernetes-native means that as Kubernetes evolves, Calico Enterprise Continue reading

Calico & Calico Enterprise: Now Available as AWS Quick Starts

As an AWS Advanced Technology Partner with AWS Containers Competency, Tigera is thrilled to announce that Calico and Calico Enterprise are both now available as AWS Quick Starts. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, an AWS Quick Start is a ready-to-use accelerator that fast-tracks deployments of key cloud workloads for AWS customers. Described as “gold-standard deployments in the AWS Cloud”, Quick Starts are designed to reduce hundreds of manual procedures into an automated, workflow-based reference deployment.

With Calico network policy enforcement, you can implement network segmentation and tenant isolation, which is especially useful when you want to create separate environments for development, staging, and production. Calico Enterprise builds on top of open source Calico to provide additional higher-level features and capabilities, and integrates with your existing AWS tools including security groups, Amazon CloudWatch, and AWS Security Hub so you can leverage existing processes and workflows in your EKS or Kubernetes infrastructure.

Everything you need to take advantage of Calico and Calico Enterprise in these Quick Starts is installed and configured in your Amazon Elastic Kubernetes (Amazon EKS) cluster, enabling you to take advantage of a rich set of Kubernetes security, observability, and networking features that Tigera provides in these Continue reading

Calico in 2020: The World’s Most Popular Kubernetes CNI

Calico and Kubernetes go hand-in-hand. Kubernetes is the de facto standard for deploying and managing container-based applications at scale, both on-premises and in the cloud. Calico continues to be the most popular open-source networking and network security solution for Kubernetes. Despite the cataclysmic events that occurred in 2020, the Calico community, supported by the team at Tigera, remained focused and achieved several major successes. We are excited to share these highlights.

Calico By The Numbers…

Since the beginning of 2020, we have experienced a 50% increase in the number of Calico Users. As of this writing, it is estimated that Calico is running on…

  • 1,000,000 nodes daily
  • 250,000 clusters daily
  • In 166 countries around the world

That’s an 85% year-to-year increase in the number of clusters running Calico.

Calico: Clear Winner Among All Tested CNIs

Alex Ducastel published an independent benchmark comparison of Kubernetes CNIs in August which showed that among all of the CNI’s tested, Calico was the clear winner, excelling in nearly every category and delivering superlative results which are summarized in the chart below. In fact, Calico is the CNI of choice in the primary use cases presented by the author in the report’s summary.

The exceptional Continue reading

Automated, Simplified DNS Troubleshooting for Kubernetes: Only in Calico Enterprise

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network. DNS translates domain names to the numerical IP addresses needed for locating and identifying computer services and devices. For decades It’s been an essential component of the Internet. It’s an essential part of Kubernetes as well, and is used to determine how workloads connect to Kubernetes services as well as resources outside the cluster.

DNS also happens to be a common source of outages and issues in Kubernetes clusters. When applications are not working as expected, the root cause is often DNS-related. However, debugging and troubleshooting DNS issues in Kubernetes environments is not a trivial task given the limited amount of information Kubernetes provides for DNS queries.

Lacking the necessary visibility into the cluster to correlate a DNS query or reply with a specific workload, for example, you are left in the dark. Without Kubernetes context, you are unable to capture even the most fundamental information needed for troubleshooting, such as the type of DNS query (or reply) or the source of the query.

Figure: The DNS Dashboard from Tigera helps Kubernetes teams more quickly confirm or Continue reading

Calico Delivers “Wow Effect” with 6x Faster Encryption than Any Other Solution… Confirms Leadership in Latest Independent CNI Benchmark Tests

Benchmark tests measure a repeatable set of quantifiable results that serve as a point of reference against which products and services can be compared. Since 2018, Alexis Ducastel, a Kubernetes CKA/CKAD and the founder of InfraBuilder, has been running independent benchmark tests of Kubernetes network plugins (CNI) over a 10Gbit/s network.

The latest benchmark in this periodic series of tests was published in September, and was based on CNI versions that were up-to-date as of August 2020. Only CNIs that can be set up with a single yaml file were tested and compared, and included the following:

  • Antrea v.0.9.1
  • Calico v3.16
  • Canal v3.16 (Flannel network + Calico Network Policies)
  • Cilium 1.8.2
  • Flannel 0.12.0
  • Kube-router latest (2020–08–25)
  • WeaveNet 2.7.0

We are thrilled to report that among all of the CNI’s tested, Calico was the clear winner, excelling in nearly every category and delivering superlative results which are summarized in the chart below. In fact, Calico is the CNI of choice in the primary use cases presented by the author in the report’s summary.

The exceptional performance of Calico encryption was described as having the “real wow effect” among all of Continue reading

Introducing Fast, Automated Packet Capture for Kubernetes

If you’re an SRE or on a DevOps team working with Kubernetes and containers, you’ve undoubtedly encountered network connectivity issues with your microservices and workloads. Something is broken and you’re under pressure to fix it, quickly. And so you begin the tedious, manual process of identifying the issue using the observability tools at your disposal…namely metrics and logs. However, there are instances where you may need to go beyond these tools to confirm a potential bug with applications running in your cluster.

Packet capture is a valuable technique for debugging microservices and application interaction in day-to-day operations and incident response. But generating pcap files to diagnose connectivity issues in Kubernetes clusters can be a frustrating exercise in a dynamic environment where hundreds, possibly thousands of pods are continually being created and destroyed.

First, you would need to identify on which node your workload is running, match your workload against its host-based interface, and then (with root access to the node) use tcpdump to generate a file for packet analysis. Then you would need to transfer the pcap files to your laptop and view them in Wireshark. If this doesn’t initially generate the information you need to identify and resolve the Continue reading

Introducing Data-in-Transit Encryption for Calico Enterprise

We’re excited to announce that Calico Enterprise, the leading solution for Kubernetes networking, security and observability in hybrid and multi-cloud environments, now includes encryption for data-in-transit.

Calico Enterprise is known for its rich set of network security implementations to protect container workloads by restricting traffic to and from trusted sources. These include, but are not limited to, implementing existing enterprise security controls in Kubernetes, managing egress access using DNS policy, extending firewalls to Kubernetes, and intrusion detection and threat defense. As the Kubernetes footprint expands, however, we’ve seen demand for an even greater in-depth approach to protecting sensitive data that falls under regulatory compliance mandates.

Not all threats originate from outside an organization. According to Gartner, nearly 75% of breaches happen due to insider behavior, from people within the organization such as employees, former employees, contractors or business associates, who have inside information concerning the organization’s security practices, data and computer systems. This level of exposure is unacceptable for organizations that have strict data protection and regulatory compliance requirements. No matter where a threat originates, encrypted data is unreadable to anyone except the legitimate keyholder, thus protecting the data should a breach occur.

Several regulatory standards Continue reading

Extend Your Fortinet FortiManager to Kubernetes

Companies are leveraging the power of Kubernetes to accelerate the delivery of resilient and scalable applications to meet the pace of business. These applications are highly dynamic, making it operationally challenging to securely connect to databases or other resources protected behind firewalls.

Visibility into Kubernetes Infrastructure is Essential

Lack of visibility has compliance implications. Like any on-premises or cloud-based networked services, Kubernetes production containers must address both organizational and regulatory security requirements. If compliance teams can’t trace the history of incidents across the entire infrastructure, they can’t adequately satisfy their audit requirements. To enable the successful transition of Kubernetes pilot projects to enterprise-wide application rollouts, companies must be able to extend their existing enterprise security architecture into the Kubernetes environment.

In response, Fortinet and Tigera jointly developed a suite of Calico Enterprise solutions for the Fortinet Security Fabric that deliver both north-south and east-west visibility and help ensure consistent control, security, and compliance. Key among these integrations is the FortiManager Calico Kubernetes Controller, which enables Kubernetes cluster management from the FortiManager centralized management platform in the Fortinet Fabric Management Center.

View and Control the Kubernetes Environment with FortiManager

The FortiManager Calico Kubernetes Controller translates FortiManager policies into granular Kubernetes network Continue reading

Tigera Announces Open-Source Calico for Windows and Collaboration with Microsoft

Tigera is pleased to announce that we have open-sourced Calico for Windows and made it immediately available for all to use for free. With the launch of open-source Calico for Windows, the vast ecosystem of Windows users now has unprecedented access to Kubernetes via the industry’s de-facto standard for Kubernetes networking and network security.

We have been collaborating with Microsoft and our joint customers over the past few years to bring Project Calico to the Windows platform, and have seen increasing demand for Windows nodes ever since the release of Kubernetes 1.14.  Most enterprises have a Windows footprint, and Windows workloads are increasingly being modernized and migrated to containers and orchestrated with Kubernetes. Enterprise users want to deploy a single solution for network security that works across both Linux and Windows workloads. Open-sourcing Calico for Windows provides those users with the best and only solution available, and for free.

“We are seeing an influx in interest in Windows Kubernetes workloads, as well as interest in securing those workloads. Calico has been a key means of deploying network security policies across both Windows and Linux platforms, however, their Windows support has been commercially licensed by Tigera until today,“ said Continue reading

Kubernetes Pod Networking on AWS: Getting There from Here

Thinking about running Kubernetes on AWS? To optimize your chances of success, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of Kubernetes pod networking. As applications grow to span multiple containers deployed across multiple clusters, operating them becomes more complex. Containers are grouped into pods, and those pods can be networked and scaled to meet your specific needs.

Kubernetes provides an open source API to manage this complexity, but one size doesn’t fit all. So you’ll want to get a handle on the different methods available to support your project. Then when you’re ready to move forward, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what will work best for you. If this sounds challenging, not to worry. Our short video explains Kubernetes pod networking on AWS and can answer many of the questions you may have. We’ve also included some great examples to help guide you.

Want to learn more about Calico Enterprise? Check out these resources.

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Free Online Training
Access Live and On-Demand Kubernetes Training

Calico Enterprise – Free Trial
Network Security, Monitoring, and Troubleshooting
for Microservices Running on Kubernetes

The post Kubernetes Pod Networking on AWS: Getting There from Here appeared first on Tigera.

The New Model for Network Security: Zero Trust

The old security model, which followed the “trust but verify” method, is broken. That model granted excessive implicit trust that attackers abused, putting the organization at risk from malicious internal actors and allowing unauthorized outsiders wide-reaching access once inside. The new model, Zero Trust networking, presents an approach where the default posture is to deny access. Access is granted based on the identity of workloads, plus other attributes and context (like time/date, source, destination), and the appropriate trust required is offered at the time.

Calico Enterprise Zero Trust Network Security is one of the most effective ways for organizations to control access to their Kubernetes networks, applications, and data. It combines a wide range of preventative techniques including identity verification, least privilege controls, layered defense-in-depth, and encryption of data-in-transit to deter threats and limit access in the event of a breach. Kubernetes is particularly vulnerable to the spread of malware as a result of the open nature of cluster networking. By default, any pod can connect to any other pod, even across namespaces. Without a strong security framework, it’s very difficult to detect malware or its spread within a Kubernetes cluster.

Zero Trust policies rely on real-time visibility into workloads, Continue reading

Mitigating the Risks of Instance Metadata in AWS EKS

Compromising a pod in a Kubernetes cluster can have disastrous consequences on resources in an AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) account if access to the Instance Metadata service is not explicitly blocked. The Instance Metadata service is an AWS API listening on a link-local IP address. Only accessible from EC2 instances, it enables the retrieval of metadata that is used to configure or manage an instance. Although you can only access instance metadata and user data from within the instance itself, the data is not protected by authentication or cryptographic methods.

A recent blog described a scenario where an attacker compromised a pod in an EKS cluster by exploiting a vulnerability in the web application it was running, thus enabling the attacker to enumerate resources in the cluster and in the associated AWS account. This scenario was simulated by running a pod and attaching to a shell inside it.

By querying the Instance Metadata service from the compromised pod, the attacker was able to access the service and retrieve temporary credentials for the identity and access management (IAM) role assigned to the EC2 instances acting as Kubernetes worker nodes. At that point, the attacker was able to pursue multiple exploits, Continue reading

Announcing the Tigera – Nutanix Partnership

Today we are pleased to announce our partnership with Nutanix, creators of the industry’s most popular hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) technology. HCI combines datacenter hardware using locally-attached storage resources with intelligent software to create flexible building blocks that replace legacy infrastructure consisting of separate servers, storage networks, and storage arrays.

Networking and securing microservices running Kubernetes and securely accessing external resources can be challenging, often requiring the use of overlay networks and NATs. At scale, this becomes extremely complex. Cloud-native enterprises seeking a consistent container networking experience across multiple cloud environments have adopted Calico, the de facto standard in open-source Kubernetes networking technologies.

Nutanix is now offering Calico as a component of Karbon, Nutanix’s enterprise Kubernetes management solution that enables turnkey provisioning, operations, and lifecycle management of Kubernetes. With this integration, Karbon users can now take advantage of simplified Kubernetes networking and production-grade network security based on Calico’s native tooling, providing scalable throughput that meets the performance demands of Karbon users.

“Karbon, now with Calico embedded, gives our customers significantly more powerful networking and network security capabilities while preserving the simplicity of provisioning and operating a Kubernetes cluster,” said Greg Muscarella, VP of Products at Nutanix. “Calico eliminates Continue reading