Scale Multi-Cluster OpenShift Deployments with F5 Container Ingress Services

In the realm of enterprise IT, the complexity of managing applications across multiple clusters has long been a significant challenge. Recognizing this, we have introduced a solution with the latest release of BIG-IP Container Ingress Service (CIS). This article explores the challenges of distributing traffic across multiple clusters and how F5's CIS addresses these issues head-on.

The Importance of Distributing Traffic Across Multiple Clusters

Distributing traffic across multiple clusters is essential for maintaining high availability, ensuring consistent performance, and facilitating agile deployment strategies. However, achieving this is challenged by the complexity of configuring and managing multiple clusters, ensuring consistent application policies, and maintaining uptime during upgrades or deployments.

Introducing the Solution: F5 BIG-IP CIS with Multi-Cluster Support

F5's BIG-IP CIS now offers multi-cluster support, revolutionizing how applications are deployed across multiple OpenShift clusters. This new feature caters to a variety of deployment strategies and operational requirements:
  1. Deployment Strategies: Supports both Blue-Green Deployments and A/B Testing, allowing for more flexible and risk-averse application rollouts.
  2. High Availability (HA): Ensures continuous application availability by spanning across 'N' clusters, reducing the risk of downtime.
  3. Load Balancing: Implements Ratio-Based Load Distribution, optimizing resource utilization and ensuring efficient traffic management.
  4. Cluster Management: Facilitates Seamless Cluster Upgrades, ensuring that the latest features and security updates are implemented without impacting ongoing operations.

How F5 BIG-IP CIS Works

The picture below shows how the Multi-Cluster feature works. Notice that in the picture, we are showing 2 OpenShift Cluster, each with a CIS instance running. In a real deployment, we can run more than 2 clusters, but with only 2 CIS instances running in 2 of the clusters for redundancy purposes.
Here is a brief workflow of the solution:
  1. Fetch KubeConfigs from ConfigMap: This step involves accessing the ConfigMap repository and extracting the necessary KubeConfig files for each external cluster.
  2. Subscribes to Informer Events: Utilizes the previously fetched KubeConfig to set up informers for external clusters. The informers continuously listen for and capture any events or changes occurring in these clusters, thereby maintaining a real-time monitoring system.
  3. Heartbeat Check for Primary CIS: The workflow includes regular heartbeat checks on the primary CIS. This involves sending periodic signals to the primary CIS to verify its operational status and ensure it is actively functioning.
  4. Post AS3 Declaration: In this final step, the system coordinates the posting of AS3 declarations to the external clusters. This is managed to ensure that only one CIS posts an AS3 declaration at any given time, thereby avoiding conflicts and ensuring orderly updates.


F5's BIG-IP CIS with Multi-Cluster Support is a strategic enabler for businesses relying on OpenShift. By simplifying the management of multi-cluster environments, organizations can focus more on innovation and less on multi-cluster application operational complexities. Watch our detailed demo on the F5 DevCentral YouTube channel to see how this solution can transform your OpenShift deployments.
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Published Jan 17, 2024
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