top of page

Kubernetes Architecture

Updated: Sep 19, 2021

Kubernetes is an open source platform for deploying and managing containers. It provides a container runtime, container orchestration, container-centric infrastructure orchestration, self-healing mechanisms, service discovery and load balancing. It’s main applications are deployment, scaling, management, and composition of application containers across clusters of hosts.

But Kubernetes is more than just a container orchestrator. It could be thought of as the operating system for cloud-native applications in the sense that it’s the platform that applications run on, just as desktop applications run on MacOS, Windows, or Linux.

Kubernetes Architecture

From a high level, a kubernetes architecture consists of a control plane (master), a distributed storage system for keeping the cluster state consistent (etcd), and a number of cluster nodes (Kubelets).

Kubernetes Control Plane

Kubernetes Control Plane

The control plane is the system that maintains a record of all Kubernetes objects. It continuously manages object states, responding to changes in the cluster; it also works to make the actual state of system objects match the desired state.

The control plane is made up of five major components:

  • Kube-apiserver

  • Kube-controller-manager

  • Kube-scheduler

  • Etcd

  • Cloud-controller-manager


The API Server provides APIs to support lifecycle orchestration (scaling, updates, and so on) for different types of applications. It also acts as the gateway to the cluster, so the API server must be accessible by clients from outside the cluster.


The Controller Manager is a daemon that runs the core control loops, watches the state of the cluster, and makes changes to drive status toward the desired state. The Cloud Controller Manager integrates into each public cloud for optimal support of availability zones, VM instances, storage services, and network services for DNS, routing and load balancing.


The Scheduler is responsible for the scheduling of containers across the nodes in the cluster; it takes various constraints into account, such as resource limitations or guarantees, and affinity and anti-affinity specifications.


Consistent and highly-available key value store used as Kubernetes’ backing store for all cluster data.

If your Kubernetes cluster uses etcd as its backing store, make sure you have a back up plan for those data.


The cloud controller manager lets you link your cluster into your cloud provider’s API, and separates out the components that interact with that cloud platform from components that only interact with your cluster.

Note: If you are running Kubernetes on your own premises, or in a learning environment inside your own PC, the cluster does not have a cloud controller manager.

The following controllers can have cloud provider dependencies:

  • Node controller: For checking the cloud provider to determine if a node has been deleted in the cloud after it stops responding

  • Route controller: For setting up routes in the underlying cloud infrastructure

  • Service controller: For creating, updating and deleting cloud provider load balancers

Cluster Nodes

Kubernetes Cluster nodes

Cluster nodes are machines that run containers and are managed by the master nodes. The Kubelet is the primary and most important controller in Kubernetes. It’s responsible for driving the container execution layer, typically Docker.

The cluster nodes are made up of three major components:

  • Kubelet

  • Kube-proxy

  • Container Runtime


An agent that runs on each node in the cluster. It makes sure that containers are running in a Pod.

The kubelet takes a set of PodSpecs that are provided through various mechanisms and ensures that the containers described in those PodSpecs are running and healthy. The kubelet doesn’t manage containers which were not created by Kubernetes.


Kube proxy is a network proxy that runs on each node in your cluster, implementing part of the Kubernetes Service concept.

Kube-proxy maintains network rules on nodes. These network rules allow network communication to your Pods from network sessions inside or outside of your cluster.

Kube-proxy uses the operating system packet filtering layer if there is one and it’s available. Otherwise, kube-proxy forwards the traffic itself.

Container Runtime

The container runtime is the software that is responsible for running containers.

Kubernetes supports several container runtimes: Docker, containerd, CRI-O, and any implementation of the Kubernetes CRI (Container Runtime Interface).

Source: Medium - Knoldus Inc.

The Tech Platform

bottom of page