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Setup NGINX Ingress Controller on Kubernetes

The vast majority of Kubernetes clusters are used to host containers that process incoming requests from microservices to full web applications. Having these incoming requests come into a central location, then get handed out via services in Kubernetes, is the most secure way to configure a cluster. That central incoming point is an ingress controller.

The most common product used as an ingress controller for privately-hosted Kubernetes clusters is NGINX. NGINX has most of the features enterprises are looking for, and will work as an ingress controller for Kubernetes regardless of which cloud, virtualization platform, or Linux operating system Kubernetes is running on.

First Steps

The first step required to use NGINX as an Ingress controller on a Platform9 managed Kubernetes cluster, is to have a running Kubernetes cluster. If you do not currently have a Platform9 managed Kubernetes account, you cant create one HERE.


In this case the cluster we will be using is called BareOS Ingress and it is listed as healthy. It is a multi-master node cluster running on Ubuntu 18.04.

❯ kubectl get nodes -o wide
NAME          STATUS   ROLES    AGE   VERSION    INTERNAL-IP   EXTERNAL-IP   OS-IMAGE             KERNEL-VERSION      CONTAINER-RUNTIME   Ready    master   51m   v1.18.10           Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS   4.15.0-51-generic   docker://19.3.11    Ready    master   51m   v1.18.10            Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS   4.15.0-51-generic   docker://19.3.11    Ready    master   51m   v1.18.10            Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS   4.15.0-51-generic   docker://19.3.11

❯ kubectl get namespaces
NAME                   STATUS   AGE
default                Active   19m
kube-node-lease        Active   19m
kube-public            Active   19m
kube-system            Active   19m
kubernetes-dashboard   Active   19m
metallb-system         Active   19m
pf9-monitoring         Active   17m
pf9-olm                Active   17m
pf9-operators          Active   17m
platform9-system       Active   19m

Running kubectl get nodes and kubectl get namespaces confirm that authentication is working, the cluster nodes are ready, and there are no NGINX Ingress controllers configured.

Mandatory Components for an NGINX Ingress Controller

An ingress controller, because it is a core component of Kubernetes, requires configuration to more moving parts of the cluster than just deploying a pod and a route.

In the case of NGINX, its recommended configuration has three ConfigMaps:

  • Base Deployment
  • TCP configuration
  • UDP configuration

A service account to run the service is within the cluster, and that service account will be assigned a couple roles.

A cluster role is assigned to the service account, which allows it to get, list, and read the configuration of all services and events. This could be limited if you were to have multiple ingress controllers. But in most cases, that is overkill.

A namespace-specific role is assigned to the service account to read and update all the ConfigMaps and other items that are specific to the NGINX Ingress controller’s own configuration.

The last piece is the actual pod deployment into its own namespace to make it easy to draw boundaries around it for security and resource quotas.

The deployment specifies which ConfigMaps will be referenced, the container image and command line that will be used, and any other specific information around how to run the actual NGINX Ingress controller.

NGINX has a single file they maintain in GitHub linked to from the Kubernetes documentation that has all this configuration spelled out in YAML and ready to deploy.

To apply this configuration, the command to run is:

The ingress resource gets created as shown below.

$ kubectl apply -f

Which will generate the following output:

namespace/ingress-nginx created
serviceaccount/ingress-nginx created created created created created
service/ingress-nginx-controller-admission created
service/ingress-nginx-controller created
deployment.apps/ingress-nginx-controller created created
serviceaccount/ingress-nginx-admission created created created created
job.batch/ingress-nginx-admission-create created
job.batch/ingress-nginx-admission-patch created

Exposing the NGINX Ingress Controller

Once the base configuration is in place, the next step is to expose the NGINX Ingress Controller to the outside world to allow it to start receiving connections. This could be through a load-balancer like on AWS, GCP, or Azure. The other option when deploying on your own infrastructure, or a cloud provider with less capabilities, is to create a service with a NodePort to allow access to the Ingress Controller.


kubectl apply -f


Using the NGINX-provided service-nodeport.yaml file, which is located in GitHub, will define a service that runs on ports 80 and 443. It can be applied using a single command line, as done before.

kubectl apply -f

Validate the NGINX Ingress Controller

The final step is to make sure the Ingress controller is running.

❯ kubectl get pods --all-namespaces -l
NAMESPACE       NAME                                        READY   STATUS      RESTARTS   AGE
ingress-nginx   ingress-nginx-admission-create-wb4rm        0/1     Completed   0          17m
ingress-nginx   ingress-nginx-admission-patch-dqsnv         0/1     Completed   2          17m
ingress-nginx   ingress-nginx-controller-74fd5565fb-lw6nq   1/1     Running     0          17m

❯ kubectl get services ingress-nginx-controller --namespace=ingress-nginx
NAME                       TYPE           CLUSTER-IP    EXTERNAL-IP   PORT(S)                      AGE
ingress-nginx-controller   LoadBalancer      80:32495/TCP,443:30703/TCP   17m

Install via Helm

Platform9 supports Helm3 and is available to anyone who wants to deploy using that method, which is often much easier to manage.

To install an NGINX Ingress controller using Helm, use the chart stable/nginx-ingress, which is available in the official repository. To install the chart with the release name ingress-nginx:

helm install stable/nginx-ingress --name ingress-nginx --set rbac.create=true

If the Kubernetes cluster has RBAC enabled, then run:

helm install stable/nginx-ingress --name ingress-nginx --set rbac.create=true

Exposing Services using NGINX Ingress Controller

Now that an ingress controller is running in the cluster, you will need to create services that leverage it using either host, URI mapping, or even both.

Sample of a host-based service mapping through an ingress controller using the type “Ingress”:

apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
  name: hello-world
  annotations: ingress-nginx
  - host: host1.domain.ext
      - backend:
          serviceName: hello-world
          servicePort: 80

Using a URI involves the same basic layout, but specifying more details in the “paths” section of the yaml file. When TLS encryption is required, then you will need to have certificates stored as secrets inside Kubernetes. This can be done manually or with an open source tool like cert-manager. The yaml file needs a little extra information to enable TLS (mapping from port 443 to port 80 is done in the ingress controller):

apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
  name: hello-world
  annotations: ingress-nginx letsencrypt-prod
  - hosts:
    - host1.domain.ext
    - host2.domain.ext
    secretName: hello-kubernetes-tls
  - host: host1.domain.ext
      - backend:
          serviceName: hello-world
          servicePort: 80

Next Steps

With a fully-functioning cluster and ingress controller, even a single node one, you are ready to start building and testing applications just like you would in your production environment, with the same ability to test your configuration files and application traffic routing. You just have some capacity limitations that won’t happen on true multi-node clusters.

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