Running SSL API with Multi-node local Kubernetes Cluster

Tue Mar 29 20228 min read

The pain of local development with Kubernetes

Personally I love Kubernetes. It has solved so many problems that used to haunt development teams going to production and keep production up and running.

But one major pain point with Kubernetes has always been local development. There is no way to test fully fledged cluster setup and how your application behaves in the distributed environment till you deploy it to an actual cluster.

There are many platforms that offer you Kubernetes clusters to play with. For example: Katacoda, Play with Kubernetes, Minikube etc. Or else you can go with GKE(google), EKS(amazon) etc.

But as far as I found, there are limitations with those options. Either these clusters/environments are temporary(Katacoda, Play with Kubernetes etc) or you get only a single node cluster(Minikube) or you will have to pay for what you consume(GKE, EKS etc).

What if, we can set up a highly available Kuberenetes cluster locally for our development and testing purposes ? Which is permanent and also it doesn’t cost you a single penny. Sounds great ? Furthermore , if the cluster setup process is simple and straight forward?

Introducing KinD

As per the official definition for KinD (Kubernetes in Docker) -

kind is a tool for running local Kubernetes clusters using Docker container “nodes”. kind was primarily designed for testing Kubernetes itself, but may be used for local development or CI.

Installing KinD

There are multiple ways to install KinD, but I prefer to install using Go Modules.

Make sure you have Go(1.17+) and Docker installed

go get

This should add KinD in your PATH.

Creating the Cluster

We will start with a simple cluster, with one Control Pane node and 2 Worker nodes.

Start by creating a config file - kind-config.yaml

You can find the file in the GitHub repo

kind: Cluster
- role: control-plane
- role: worker
- role: worker

Creating the cluster simple, run the command

kind create cluster --config kind-config.yaml

Verify the cluster is running as expected.

kubectl get nodes

Building the API

We are gonna build a simple Express Server which listens on / and returns back the hostname

const express = require('express')
const os = require('os')
const app = express()
const port = 8080

app.get('/', (req, res) => {
    res.send(`You've hit ${os.hostname()} \n`)

app.listen(port, () => {
    console.log(`Express app listening on port ${port}`)

Create the Docker file for the API container.

FROM node:16-alpine

WORKDIR /express-app

COPY . .

RUN npm install


ENTRYPOINT ["node", "app.js"]

All code is under the api folder in the GitHub repo

Introducing Envoy Proxy

Envoy is an L7 proxy and communication bus designed for large modern service oriented architectures (from official documentation)

Why use Proxy for SSL

It’s obvious that if you implement TLS support within the Node.js application itself, the application will consume less computing resources and have lower latency because no additional network hop is required, but adding the Envoy proxy could be a faster and easier solution.

It also provides a good starting point from which you can add many other features provided by Envoy that you would probably never implement in the application code itself.

Refer to the Envoy proxy documentation to learn more.

Proposed Pod Architecture

Proposed Pod Architecture

Express API container will bind on port 8080 on both network interfaces (eth0 and loopback)

The Envoy proxy handles https on port 8443. It will also expose an admin interface on port 9901.

The Envoy proxy sends HTTPrequests to Express API through the pod’s loopback address.

Setting up Envoy container

The files for Envoy container are available under ssl folder in the GitHub repo

We start by generating self-signed certificates for SSL. For the demo purpose we will create certificates for

Next we have to create a config file for Envoy. We will name this as envoy.yaml.

Start by defining the admin port

  access_log_path: /tmp/envoy.admin.log
      protocol: TCP
      port_value: 9901

Next we define the source for api

  - name: service_express_localhost
    connect_timeout: 0.25s
    type: STATIC
      cluster_name: service_express_localhost
      - lb_endpoints:
        - endpoint:
                port_value: 8080

Finally, define the listeners for binding the https port

Final yaml looks like this

  access_log_path: /tmp/envoy.admin.log
      protocol: TCP
      port_value: 9901
  - name: listener_0
        port_value: 8443
    - transport_socket:
        name: envoy.transport_sockets.tls
            - certificate_chain:
                filename: "/etc/certs/example-com.crt"
                filename: "/etc/certs/example-com.key"
      - name:
          stat_prefix: ingress_http
            name: local_route
            - name: local_service
              domains: ["*"]
              - match:
                  prefix: "/"
                  cluster: service_express_localhost
          - name: envoy.filters.http.router
  - name: service_express_localhost
    connect_timeout: 0.25s
    type: STATIC
      cluster_name: service_express_localhost
      - lb_endpoints:
        - endpoint:
                port_value: 8080

Finally, we define the DockerFile for the container

FROM envoyproxy/envoy:v1.14.1
COPY envoy.yaml /etc/envoy/envoy.yaml
COPY example-com.crt /etc/certs/example-com.crt
COPY example-com.key /etc/certs/example-com.key

Preparing Container Images

Now we have done our setup, next step is to build and push the images.


The makefile should take care of building and pushing the images.

To make sure the containers are working as expected, try running the containers

Express API container

docker run --rm -p 8080:8080 deboroy/simple-express-api

This should start the container. To verify it is working, try curling the url.

curl -s http://localhost:8080/

You should see something similar to this

You've hit c1872db22f92

This means the Express API container is working perfectly.

Envoy Proxy Container

Now we can start the Envoy container, but at present it will throw an error as the loopback is not bound to the API container.

docker run --rm -p 8443:8443 deboroy/envoy-ssl-proxy

Now if we curl the https url, we should see an error.

curl -s https://localhost:8443 --insecure

Error will look something like this -

upstream connect error or disconnect/reset before headers. reset reason: connection failure%

This means that proxy container is running and listening on port 8443 but it is not able to connect to the source. Let’s fix this by deploying our pod.

Deploying Containers on Pods

Now lets create a pod description as per our agreed design. Let’s name the file as

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: express-ssl
  - name: express-api
    image: deboroy/simple-express-api
    - name: http
      containerPort: 8080
  - name: envoy
    image: deboroy/envoy-ssl-proxy
    - name: https
      containerPort: 8443
    - name: admin
      containerPort: 9901

The description is pretty straight forward. We are running the Express Container in our pod, with the Envoy Proxy as the sidecar.

Verify that the KinD Cluster is up and running

kubectl cluster-info --context kind-kind

Next, create the pod

kubectl apply -f

Verify the pod is created

kubectl get po -w
NAME          READY   STATUS              RESTARTS   AGE
express-ssl   0/2     ContainerCreating   0          5s
express-ssl   2/2     Running             0          22s
kubectl describe po express-ssl

You should see that the containers are started in the events

  Type    Reason     Age   From               Message
  ----    ------     ----  ----               -------
  Normal  Scheduled  35s   default-scheduler  Successfully assigned default/express-ssl to kind-worker2
  Normal  Pulling    35s   kubelet            Pulling image "deboroy/simple-express-api"
  Normal  Pulled     26s   kubelet            Successfully pulled image "deboroy/simple-express-api" in 9.1613133s
  Normal  Created    25s   kubelet            Created container express-api
  Normal  Started    25s   kubelet            Started container express-api
  Normal  Pulling    25s   kubelet            Pulling image "deboroy/envoy-ssl-proxy"
  Normal  Pulled     14s   kubelet            Successfully pulled image "deboroy/envoy-ssl-proxy" in 11.1944752s
  Normal  Created    13s   kubelet            Created container envoy
  Normal  Started    13s   kubelet            Started container envoy

Now, we cannot access the containers directly. Ideally, we will be deploying a load-balancer to test the endpoints. But for our local testing, let’s port-forward to verify.

kubectl port-forward express-ssl 8080 8443 9901
Forwarding from -> 8080
Forwarding from [::1]:8080 -> 8080
Forwarding from -> 8443
Forwarding from [::1]:8443 -> 8443
Forwarding from -> 9901
Forwarding from [::1]:9901 -> 9901

Now when we try doing curl on HTTPS again

curl -s https://localhost:8443 --insecure

We get a proper response back from the server

You've hit express-ssl

Awesome !!! This means everything is working as expected.

So with this whole setup we saw how easy it is to setup a multi-node Kubernetes cluster with KinD locally. Next time you can test your deployment locally before pushing it to the actual cluster.

Hope you had fun reading this. Happy Coding !!!






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