Accessing internal services


  • When we are logged in on a cluster node, we can access internal services

    (by virtue of the Kubernetes network model: all nodes can reach all pods and services)

  • When we are accessing a remote cluster, things are different

    (generally, our local machine won't have access to the cluster's internal subnet)

  • How can we temporarily access a service without exposing it to everyone?

  • kubectl proxy: gives us access to the API, which includes a proxy for HTTP resources

  • kubectl port-forward: allows forwarding of TCP ports to arbitrary pods, services, ...

Suspension of disbelief

The exercises in this section assume that we have set up kubectl on our local machine in order to access a remote cluster.

We will therefore show how to access services and pods of the remote cluster, from our local machine.

You can also run these exercises directly on the cluster (if you haven't installed and set up kubectl locally).

Running commands locally will be less useful (since you could access services and pods directly), but keep in mind that these commands will work anywhere as long as you have installed and set up kubectl to communicate with your cluster.

kubectl proxy in theory

  • Running kubectl proxy gives us access to the entire Kubernetes API

  • The API includes routes to proxy HTTP traffic

  • These routes look like the following:


  • We just add the URI to the end of the request, for instance:


  • We can access services and pods this way

kubectl proxy in practice

  • Let's access the webui service through kubectl proxy


  • Run an API proxy in the background:

    kubectl proxy &
  • Access the webui service:

    curl localhost:8001/api/v1/namespaces/default/services/webui/proxy/index.html
  • Terminate the proxy:

    kill %1

kubectl port-forward in theory

  • What if we want to access a TCP service?

  • We can use kubectl port-forward instead

  • It will create a TCP relay to forward connections to a specific port

    (of a pod, service, deployment...)

  • The syntax is:

    kubectl port-forward service/name_of_service local_port:remote_port

  • If only one port number is specified, it is used for both local and remote ports

kubectl port-forward in practice

  • Let's access our remote Redis server


  • Forward connections from local port 10000 to remote port 6379:

    kubectl port-forward svc/redis 10000:6379 &
  • Connect to the Redis server:

    telnet localhost 10000
  • Issue a few commands, e.g. INFO server then QUIT

  • Terminate the port forwarder:

    kill %1