Version 1.6. This version is no longer supported as outlined in the Anthos version support policy. For the latest patches and updates for security vulnerabilities, exposures, and issues impacting Anthos clusters on VMware (GKE on-prem), upgrade to a supported version. You can find the most recent version here.


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Anthos clusters on VMware (GKE on-prem) uses Kubernetes networking concepts like Service and Ingress. This document describes how Anthos clusters on VMware networking is configured out of the box.

Cluster services operations and Island Mode

Anthos clusters on VMware uses an Island Mode configuration in which Pods can directly talk to each other within a cluster, but cannot be reached from outside the cluster. This configuration forms an "island" within the network that is not connected to the external network. Clusters form a full node-to-node mesh across the cluster nodes, allowing Pod to reach other Pods within the cluster directly.

All egress traffic from the Pod to targets outside the cluster is NAT'd by the node IP. Anthos clusters on VMware includes an L7 load balancer with an Envoy-based ingress controller that handles Ingress object rules for ClusterIP Services deployed within the cluster. The ingress controller itself is exposed as a NodePort Service in the cluster.

The ingress NodePort service can be reached through a L3/L4 F5 load balancer. The installation configures a virtual IP address (VIP) (with port 80 and 443) on the load balancer. The VIP points to the ports in the NodePort Service for the Ingress controller. This is how external clients can access services in the cluster.

User clusters can run Services of type LoadBalancer as long as a loadBalancerIP field is configured in the Service's specification. In the loadBalancerIP field, you need to provide the VIP that you want to use. This is configured on the load balancer, pointing to the NodePorts of the Service.

Anthos clusters on VMware supports several load balancing options:

  • Bundled load balancing with Seesaw
  • Integrated load balancing with F5 BIG-IP
  • Manual load balancing with F5 BIG-IP
  • Manual load balancing with Citrix

If you choose to use manual load balancing, you cannot run Services of type LoadBalancer. Instead, you can create Services of type NodePort and manually configure your load balancer to use them as backends. Also, you can expose Services to outside clients by using an Ingress object.

Support for VMware NSX-T

Starting with version 1.2.0-gke.6, Anthos clusters on VMware supports VMware NSX-T version 2.4.2.

Networking architecture

Diagram describing Anthos clusters on VMware architecture Anthos clusters on VMware networking

Node IP addresses
DHCP or statically-assigned IP addresses for the nodes (alternatively called virtual machines or VMs). Must be routable within the data center. You can manually assign static IPs.
Pod CIDR block
Non-routable CIDR block for all Pods in the cluster. From this range, smaller /24 ranges are assigned per node. If you need an N node cluster, ensure this block is large enough to support N /24 blocks.
Services CIDR block
In Island Mode, similar to Pod CIDR block, so only used within the cluster. Any private CIDR block which does not overlap with the nodes, VIPs, or Pod CIDR block. You can share the same block among clusters. The size of the block determines the number of services. One Service IP is needed for the ingress service, and ten or more IPs for Kubernetes services like cluster DNS, etc.
Services VIPs
N number of routable IP addresses to be configured on F5 for L4 ingress when you expose a Service. These VIPs are the same as the loadBalancerIP values you set when you create Services of type LoadBalancer.
Control plane VIP
A routable IP address to configure on F5 load balancer for the Kubernetes API server.
Ingress VIP
A routable IP address to configure on the F5 load balancer for L7 ingress in conjunction with the Envoy proxies running on each node.

Networking configuration options

You have several options for configuring your clusters' networking:

  • You can choose one global vCenter network, or use a different vCenter network for admin and user clusters.
  • You can use a HTTP proxy, and you can choose which addresses you want to exclude from proxying.
  • You can choose DHCP or static IP allocation.
  • You can choose integrated or manual load balancing mode.

During installation, you specify your preferences in the Anthos clusters on VMware configuration file.

vCenter network configurations

The config's network field determines which vCenter network to use for the clusters:

  • The global field specifies one specific network.
  • overrides the global field, and specifies the network to use for the admin cluster.
  • overrides the global field, and specifies the network to use for the user cluster.

Example: Access a web application via URL

Suppose that you have a guestbook web application running in your cluster as a Deployment named frontend. You want to connect to the application using a URL, You need some way of mapping the URL to the Deployment running in your cluster. You can do this using a Kubernetes Ingress object.

To begin, you first create a wildcard DNS entry for * that points to the cluster's existing ingress VIP:

*    A   [INGRESS_VIP]

Next, you need to create a Service for the frontend Deployment. Running kubectl expose creates a Service that logically groups the Deployment's Pods and provides them with a common IP address within the cluster:

kubectl expose deployment frontend

This creates a Service of type ClusterIP, like this:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
    app: guestbook
  name: frontend
  - port: 80
    protocol: TCP
    targetPort: 80
    app: guestbook
  type: ClusterIP

You need to map the URL,, to the frontend Service you just created. Applying the Ingress below creates that mapping:

apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
  name: frontend
    app: guestbook
  annotations: istio
    - host:
          - backend:
              serviceName: frontend   # name of the frontend Service
              servicePort: 80

Now, visiting opens the web application in your browser.

Here's how this works under the hood:

  • Because you created that wildcard DNS entry, when you visit the URL, you're accessing the cluster's ingress VIP.
  • The cluster looks for the correct Ingress object based on the hostname, which in this case is
  • The traffic is port forwarded to a frontend Pod.

Example: Access a web application via IP address

If your application is not a web application, or if you have networking constraints, you might prefer to create a VIP specifically for your service. You can do this using a Kubernetes Service of type LoadBalancer.

The Service below creates a VIP specifically for the guestbook application:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
    app: guestbook
  name: frontend
  - port: 80
    protocol: TCP
    targetPort: 80
    app: guestbook
  type: LoadBalancer
  loadBalancerIP: [IP_ADDRESS]

After you apply this Service, you'd see the VIP in your F5 console, and in the console's Pools menu you'd see the IP addresses of the nodes. Visiting the IP address would load the application.