Sunday, June 16, 2024

Advanced Network Observability: Hubble for AKS Clusters

Advanced Container Networking Services

The Advanced Container Networking Services are a new service from Microsoft’s Azure Container Networking team, which follows the successful open sourcing of Retina: A Cloud-Native Container Networking Observability Platform. It is a set of services designed to address difficult issues related to observability, security, and compliance that are built on top of the networking solutions already in place for Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS). Advanced Network Observability, the first feature in this suite, is currently accessible in public preview.

Advanced Container Networking Services: What Is It?

A collection of services called Advanced Container Networking Services is designed to greatly improve your Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) clusters’ operational capacities. The suite is extensive and made to handle the complex and varied requirements of contemporary containerized applications. Customers may unlock a new way of managing container networking with capabilities specifically designed for security, compliance, and observability.

The primary goal of Advanced Container Networking Services is to provide a smooth, integrated experience that gives you the ability to uphold strong security postures, guarantee thorough compliance, and obtain insightful information about your network traffic and application performance. This lets you grow and manage your infrastructure with confidence knowing that your containerized apps meet or surpass your performance and reliability targets in addition to being safe and compliant.

Advanced Network Observability: What Is It?

The first aspect of the Advanced Container Networking Services suite, Advanced Network Observability, gives Linux data planes running on Cilium and Non-Cilium the power of Hubble’s control plane. It gives you deep insights into your containerized workloads by unlocking Hubble metrics, the Hubble user interface (UI), and the Hubble command line interface (CLI) on your AKS clusters. With Advanced Network Observability, users may accurately identify and identify the underlying source of network-related problems within a Kubernetes cluster.

This feature leverages extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF) technology to collect data in real time from the Linux Kernel and offers network flow information at the pod-level granularity in the form of metrics or flow logs. It now provides detailed request and response insights along with network traffic flows, volumetric statistics, and dropped packets, in addition to domain name service (DNS) metrics and flow information.

  • eBPF-based observability driven by Retina or Cilium.
  • Experience without a Container Network Interface (CNI).
  • Using Hubble measurements, track network traffic in real time to find bottlenecks and performance problems.
  • Hubble command line interface (CLI) network flows allow you to trace packet flows throughout your cluster on-demand, which can help you diagnose and comprehend intricate networking behaviours.
  • Using an unmanaged Hubble UI, visualise network dependencies and interactions between services to guarantee optimal configuration and performance.
  • To improve security postures and satisfy compliance requirements, produce comprehensive metrics and records.
Architecture diagram of Hubble interfacing with Cilium/Retina
Image credit to Microsoft Azure

Hubble without a Container Network Interface (CNI)

Hubble control plane extended beyond Cilium with Advanced Network Observability. Hubble receives the eBPF events from Cilium in clusters that are based on Cilium. Microsoft Retina acts as the dataplane surfacing deep insights to Hubble in non-Cilium based clusters, giving users a smooth interactive experience.

Visualizing Hubble metrics with Grafana

Grafana Advanced Network Observability facilitates two integration techniques for visualization of Hubble metrics:

  • Grafana and Prometheus managed via Azure
  • If you’re an advanced user who can handle more administration overhead, bring your own (BYO) Grafana and Prometheus.

Azure provides integrated services that streamline the setup and maintenance of monitoring and visualization using the Prometheus and Grafana methodology, which is maintained by Azure. A managed instance of Prometheus, which gathers and maintains metrics from several sources, including Hubble, is offered by Azure Monitor.

Hubble CLI querying network flows

Customers can query for all or filtered network flows across all nodes using the Hubble command line interface (CLI) while using Advanced Network Observability.

Through a single pane of glass, users will be able to discern if flows have been discarded or forwarded from all nodes.

Hubble UI service dependency graph

To visualize service dependencies, customers can install Hubble UI on clusters that have Advanced Network Observability enabled. Customers can choose a namespace and view network flows between various pods within the cluster using Hubble UI, which offers an on-demand view of all flows throughout the cluster and surfaces detailed information about each flow.


Increased network visibility

Unmatched network visibility is made possible by Advanced Network Observability, which delivers detailed insights into network activity down to the pod level. Administrators can keep an eye on traffic patterns, spot irregularities, and get a thorough grasp of network behavior inside their Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) clusters thanks to this in-depth insight. Advanced Network Observability offers real-time metrics and logs that reveal traffic volume, packet drops, and DNS metrics by utilizing eBPF-based data collecting from the Linux Kernel. The improved visibility guarantees that network managers can quickly detect and resolve possible problems, preserving the best possible network security and performance.

Tracking of cross-node network flow

Customers in their Kubernetes clusters can monitor network flows over several nodes using Advanced Network Observability. This makes it feasible to precisely trace packet flows and comprehend intricate networking behaviors and node-to-node interactions. Through the ability to query network flows, Hubble CLI allows users to filter and examine particular traffic patterns. The ability to trace packets across nodes and discover dropped and redirected packets in a single pane of glass makes cross-node tracking a valuable tool for troubleshooting network problems.

Monitoring performance in real time

Customers can monitor performance in real time using Advanced Network Observability. Through the integration of Cilium or Retina-powered Hubble measurements, customers can track network traffic in real time and spot performance problems and bottlenecks as they arise. Maintaining high performance and making sure that any decline in network performance is quickly detected and fixed depend on this instantaneous feedback loop. Proactive management and quick troubleshooting are made possible by the continuous, in-depth insights into network operations provided by the monitored Hubble metrics and flow logs.

Historical analysis using several clusters

When combined with Azure Managed Prometheus and Grafana, Advanced Network Observability offers advantages that can be extended to multi-cluster systems. These capabilities include historical analysis, which is crucial for long-term network management and optimization. Network performance and dependability may be affected in the future by trends, patterns, and reoccurring problems that administrators can find by archiving and examining past data from several clusters. For the purposes of capacity planning, performance benchmarking, and compliance reporting, this historical perspective is essential. Future decisions about network setup and design are influenced by the capacity to examine and evaluate historical network data, which aids in understanding how network performance has changed over time.

Thota nithya
Thota nithya
Thota Nithya has been writing Cloud Computing articles for govindhtech from APR 2023. She was a science graduate. She was an enthusiast of cloud computing.


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