Configure bundled load balancing

This page describes how to configure bundled load balancing for GKE on Bare Metal. GKE on Bare Metal deploys Layer 4 load balancers that run on either a dedicated pool of worker nodes or on the same nodes as the control plane.

See Overview of load balancers for examples of load-balancing topologies available in GKE on Bare Metal.


  • All load balancer nodes must be in the same Layer 2 subnet.
  • All VIPs must be in the load balancer nodes subnet and be routable through the subnet's gateway.
  • The gateway of the load balancer subnet must listen to gratuitous ARP messages and forward ARP packets to the load balancer nodes.

Configuration fields

Edit the cluster.spec.loadBalancer section of the cluster configuration file to configure bundled load balancing. For information about cluster configuration files and examples of valid configurations. see one of the following pages:


This value must be bundled to enable bundled load balancing.


This value specifies the destination port to be used for traffic sent to the Kubernetes control plane (the Kubernetes API servers).


This value specifies the destination IP address to be used for traffic sent to the Kubernetes control plane (the Kubernetes API servers). This IP address must be in the same Layer 2 subnet as the nodes running load balancers. Do not list this address in the [address pools](#address-pools) section of the configuration file.


This value specifies the IP address to be used for Services behind the load balancer for ingress traffic. This field is not allowed in admin cluster configuration files. This address must be listed in the address pools section of the configuration.


This section of the configuration contains one or more address pools specified in this format:

- name: pool-name
  avoidBuggyIPs: boolean
  manualAssign: boolean
  - ip-range
  - ip-range
  • name: The name of the address pool, pool-name, for your own organizational purposes.
  • avoidBuggyIPs: (Optional) true or false. If true, the pool omits IP addresses ending in .0 and .255. Some network hardware drops traffic to these special addresses. You can omit this field, its default value is false.
  • manualAssign: (Optional). true or false. If true, addresses in this pool are not automatically assigned to Kubernetes Services. If true, an IP address in this pool is used only when it is specified explicitly by a service. You can omit this field, its default value is false.
  • addresses A list of one or more nonoverlapping IP address ranges. ip-range can be specified in either CIDR notation (like or range notation (like, with no spaces around the dash).

The IP address ranges in the addresses list must not overlap and must be in the same subnet as the nodes running load balancers.


This section of the configuration specifies a list of nodes to run load balancers on. Load balancer nodes can run regular workloads by default; there is no special taint on those nodes. The example below shows a node pool with two nodes. The first node,, uses the k8sIP field to specify the node's IP address in the cluster. The address is only used for SSH access.

  - address:
  - address:

All nodes in the load balancer node pool must be in the same Layer 2 subnet as the load balancer VIPs configured in the loadBalancer.addressPools section of the configuration file. If a node has a k8sIP configured, only that address needs to be in the same Layer 2 subnet as the other load balancer VIPs.

If nodePoolSpec is not set, the bundled load balancers run on the control plane nodes. We recommend you run load balancers on separate node pools if possible.

Control plane load balancing

The control plane load balancer serves the control plane virtual IP address (VIP). GKE on Bare Metal runs Keepalived and HAProxy as Kubernetes static pods on the load-balancer nodes to announce the control plane VIP. Keepalived uses the Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) on the load balancer nodes for high availability.

Data plane load balancing

The data plane load balancer is for all Kubernetes Services of type LoadBalancer. GKE on Bare Metal uses MetalLB running in Layer 2 mode for data plane load balancing. Data plane load balancing can only be configured through GKE on Bare Metal, do not modify MetalLB's ConfigMap directly. You can use all MetalLB features including IP address sharing across Services. See the MetalLB documentation for feature information.

MetalLB runs a speaker Pod on each node using a daemonset, using memberlist for high availability. There is a MetalLB dedicated load balancer node for each Kubernetes Service, rather than one for the entire cluster. This way traffic is distributed across load balancer nodes if there are multiple Services.

The data plane load balancers can run on either the control plane nodes or on a subset of worker nodes. Bundling data plane load balancers on the control plane nodes increases utilization of the control plane nodes. However, bundling on the control plane nodes also increases the risk of overloading the control plane and increases the risk profile of confidential information on the control plane, such as SSH keys.

Preserving client source IP address

The LoadBalancer Service created with the bundled Layer 2 load balancing solution uses the default Cluster setting for the external traffic policy. This setting, spec.externalTrafficPolicy: Cluster, routes external traffic to cluster-wide endpoints, but it also obscures the client source IP address.

The following sections describe how to configure your cluster to preserve the client source IP address.

NodePort Services

Kubernetes does source network address translation (NAT) for NodePort Services. To retain the client source IP addresses, set service.spec.externalTrafficPolicy to Local. Kubernetes won't perform source NAT anymore, but you must make sure there are pods running exactly on the node IP you picked.

LoadBalancer Services

When using externalTrafficPolicy: Local in your LoadBalancer Services, set your application pods to run exactly on the load balancer nodes. Add the following nodeSelector to your application pods to make this change:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  nodeSelector: "true"


If your applications are HTTP services, you can achieve client IP visibility by configuring ingress components:

  1. Open the istio-ingress Service for editing:

    kubectl edit service -n gke-system istio-ingress
  2. Add externalTrafficPolicy: Local to the spec, save and exit the editor.

    apiVersion: v1
    kind: Service
      externalTrafficPolicy: Local
  3. Open the istio-ingress Deployment for editing:

    kubectl edit deployment -n gke-system istio-ingress
  4. Add the following nodeSelector to the Deployment, save and exit the editor.

    apiVersion: apps/v1
    kind: Deployment

Now, all of your services behind Ingress see a X-Forwarded-For header with the client IP, like the following example: