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Reversed VPN Tunnel Setup and Configuration

The Reversed VPN Tunnel is enabled by default. A highly available VPN connection is automatically deployed in all shoots that configure an HA control-plane.

Reversed VPN Tunnel

In the first VPN solution, connection establishment was initiated by a VPN client in the seed cluster. Due to several issues with this solution, the tunnel establishment direction has been reverted. The client is deployed in the shoot and initiates the connection from there. This way, there is no need to deploy a special purpose loadbalancer for the sake of addressing the data-plane, in addition to saving costs, this is considered the more secure alternative. For more information on how this is achieved, please have a look at the following GEP.

Connection establishment with a reversed tunnel:

APIServer --> Envoy-Proxy | VPN-Seed-Server <-- Istio/Envoy-Proxy <-- SNI API Server Endpoint <-- LB (one for all clusters of a seed) <--- internet <--- VPN-Shoot-Client --> Pods | Nodes | Services

The reversed VPN tunnel is always deployed. The feature gate ReversedVPN is GA and will be removed in a future release.

High Availability for Reversed VPN Tunnel

Shoots which define spec.controlPlane.highAvailability.failureTolerance: {node, zone} get an HA control-plane including a highly available VPN connection by deploying redundant VPN servers and clients.

Please note that it is not possible to move an open connection to another VPN tunnel. Especially long-running commands like kubectl exec -it ... or kubectl logs -f ... will still break if the routing path must be switched because either VPN server or client are not reachable anymore. New request should be possible within seconds.

HA Architecture for VPN

Establishing a connection from the VPN client on the shoot to the server in the control plane works nearly the same way as in the non-HA case. The only difference is that the VPN client targets one of two VPN servers, represented by two services vpn-seed-server-0 and vpn-seed-server-1 with endpoints in pods with the same name. The VPN tunnel is used by a kube-apiserver to reach nodes, services, or pods in the shoot cluster. In the non-HA case, a kube-apiserver uses an HTTP proxy running as a side-car in the VPN server to address the shoot networks via the VPN tunnel and the vpn-shoot acts as a router. In the HA case, the setup is more complicated. Instead of an HTTP proxy in the VPN server, the kube-apiserver has additional side-cars. One side-car for each VPN client to connect to the corresponding VPN server. On the shoot side, there are now two vpn-shoot pods, each with two VPN clients for each VPN server. With this setup, there would be four possible routes, but only one can be used. Switching the route kills all open connections. Therefore, another layer is introduced: link aggregation, also named bonding. In Linux, you can create a network link by using several other links as slaves. Bonding is here used with active-backup mode. This means the traffic only goes through the active sublink and is only changed if the active one becomes unavailable. Switching happens in the bonding network driver without changing any routes. So with this layer, vpn-seed-server pods can be rolled without disrupting open connections.

VPN HA Architecture

With bonding, there are 2 possible routing paths, ensuring that there is at least one routing path intact even if one vpn-seed-server pod and one vpn-shoot pod are unavailable at the same time.

As it is not possible to use multi-path routing, one routing path must be configured explicitly. For this purpose, the path-controller script is running in another side-car of the kube-apiserver pod. It pings all shoot-side VPN clients regularly every few seconds. If the active routing path is not responsive anymore, the routing is switched to the other responsive routing path.

Four possible routing paths

For general information about HA control-plane see GEP-20.