Architecture

Control Plane

The Linkerd control plane is a set of services that run in a dedicated Kubernetes namespace (linkerd by default). These services accomplish various things—aggregating telemetry data, providing a user-facing API, providing control data to the data plane proxies, etc. Together, they drive the behavior of the data plane. The CLI can be used to install the control plane.

The control plane is made up of four components:

  • Controller - The controller deployment consists of multiple containers (public-api, proxy-api, destination, tap) that provide the bulk of the control plane’s functionality.

  • Web - The web deployment provides the Linkerd dashboard.

  • Prometheus - All of the metrics exposed by Linkerd are scraped via Prometheus and stored here. This is an instance of Prometheus that has been configured to work specifically with the data that Linkerd generates. There are instructions if you would like to integrate this with an existing Prometheus installation.

  • Grafana - Linkerd comes with many dashboards out of the box. The Grafana component is used to render and display these dashboards. You can reach these dashboards via links in the Linkerd dashboard itself.

Architecture
Architecture

Data Plane

The Linkerd data plane is comprised of lightweight proxies, which are deployed as sidecar containers alongside each instance of your service code. In order to “add” a service to the Linkerd service mesh, the pods for that service must be redeployed to include a data plane proxy in each pod. (The linkerd inject command accomplishes this, as well as the configuration work necessary to transparently funnel traffic from each instance through the proxy.) You can add your service to the data plane with a single CLI command.

These proxies transparently intercept communication to and from each pod, and add features such as instrumentation and encryption (TLS), as well as allowing and denying requests according to the relevant policy.

These proxies are not designed to be configured by hand. Rather, their behavior is driven by the control plane.

Proxy

An ultralight transparent proxy written in Rust, the proxy is installed into each pod of a service and becomes part of the data plane. It receives all incoming traffic for a pod and intercepts all outgoing traffic via an initContainer that configures iptables to forward the traffic correctly. Because it is a sidecar and intercepts all the incoming and outgoing traffic for a service, there are no code changes required and it can even be added to a running service.

The proxy’s features include:

  • Transparent, zero-config proxying for HTTP, HTTP/2, and arbitrary TCP protocols.

  • Automatic Prometheus metrics export for HTTP and TCP traffic.

  • Transparent, zero-config WebSocket proxying.

  • Automatic, latency-aware, layer-7 load balancing.

  • Automatic layer-4 load balancing for non-HTTP traffic.

  • Automatic TLS (experimental).

  • An on-demand diagnostic tap API.

The proxy supports service discovery via DNS and the destination gRPC API.

CLI

The Linkerd CLI is run locally on your machine and is used to interact with the control and data planes. It can be used to view statistics, debug production issues in real time and install/upgrade the control and data planes.

Dashboard

The Linkerd dashboard provides a high level view of what is happening with your services in real time. It can be used to view the “golden” metrics (success rate, requests/second and latency), visualize service dependencies and understand the health of specific service routes. One way to pull it up is by running linkerd dashboard from the command line.

Top Line Metrics
Top Line Metrics

Grafana

As a component of the control plane, Grafana provides actionable dashboards for your services out of the box. It is possible to see high level metrics and dig down into the details, even for pods.

The dashboards that are provided out of the box include:

Top Line Metrics
Top Line Metrics
Deployment Detail
Deployment Detail
Pod Detail
Pod Detail
Linkerd Health
Linkerd Health

Prometheus

Prometheus is a cloud native monitoring solution that is used to collect and store all the Linkerd metrics. It is installed as part of the control plane and provides the data used by the CLI, dashboard and Grafana.

The proxy exposes a /metrics endpoint for Prometheus to scrape on port 4191. This is scraped every 10 seconds. These metrics are then available to all the other Linkerd components, such as the CLI and dashboard.

Metrics Collection
Metrics Collection