Kubernetes Cluster on Bare Metal System Made Possible using MetalLB

Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes

If you try to setup Kubernetes cluster on bare metal system, you will notice that Load-Balancer always remain in the “pending” state indefinitely when created. This is expected because Kubernetes, by default does not offer an implementation of network load-balancer for bare metal cluster.

In a cloud-enabled Kubernetes cluster, you request a load-balancer, and your cloud platform assigns an IP address to you. In a bare metal cluster, you need an external Load-Balancer implementation which has capability to perform an IP allocation.

Missing Load-Balancer in Bare Metal System

Enter MetalLB…

MetalLB is a load-balancer implementation for bare metal Kubernetes clusters, using standard routing protocols. MetalLB provides a network load-balancer implementation for Kubernetes clusters that do not run on a supported cloud provider, effectively allowing the usage of LoadBalancer Services within any cluster. It aims to redress this imbalance by offering a Network LB implementation that integrates with standard network equipment, so that external services on bare metal clusters also “just work” as much as possible.

Why can’t Ingress help me out here?

Yes, Ingress could be one of the best option if you deployed Kubernetes cluster on bare metal. Ingress lets you configure internal load balancing of HTTP or HTTPS traffic to your deployed services using software load balancers like NGINX or HAProxy deployed as pods in your cluster. Ingress makes use of Layer 7 routing of your applications as well. The problem with this is that it doesn’t easily route TCP or UDP traffic. The best way to do this was using a LoadBalancer type of service. However, if you deployed your Kubernetes cluster to bare metal you didn’t have the option of using a LoadBalancer.

How does MetalLB work?

MetalLB hooks into your Kubernetes cluster, and provides a network load-balancer implementation. In short, it allows you to create Kubernetes services of type “LoadBalancer” in clusters that don’t run on a cloud provider, and thus cannot simply hook into paid products to provide load-balancers.

It is important to note that MetalLB cannot create IP addresses out of thin air, so you do have to give it pools of IP addresses that it can use. It will then take care of assigning and unassigning individual addresses as services come and go, but it will only ever hand out IPs that are part of its configured pools.

Okay wait.. How will I get IP Address pool for MetalLB?

How you get IP address pools for MetalLB depends on your environment. If you’re running a bare metal cluster in a colocation facility, your hosting provider probably offers IP addresses for lease. In that case, you would lease, say, a /26 of IP space (64 addresses), and provide that range to MetalLB for cluster services.

Under this blog post, I will showcase how to setup 3-Node Kubernetes cluster using MetalLB. The below steps have also been tested for ESXi Virtual Machines and works flawlessly.

Preparing the Infrastructure

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