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Kubernetes is a powerful container orchestration platform that allows you to easily manage and scale your containerized applications. One of the key features of Kubernetes is the ability to use an ingress controller to handle incoming traffic to your application. In this article, we will take a deep dive into Kubernetes ingress controllers and provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to set them up and use them effectively.

What is an ingress controller?

An ingress controller is a Kubernetes resource that allows you to control the routing of incoming traffic to your application. It acts as a reverse proxy and routes traffic to the appropriate service based on the hostname and path of the incoming request. Ingress controllers are typically implemented as a Kubernetes deployment, and they use Kubernetes resources such as Services, Ingress, and ConfigMaps to configure the routing rules.

Why use an ingress controller?

Ingress controllers provide a number of benefits, including:

  • External access to your application: Ingress controllers allow you to expose your application to the outside world, making it easily accessible to users and clients.
  • Routing based on hostname and path: Ingress controllers allow you to route traffic based on the hostname and path of the incoming request, providing fine-grained control over how traffic is routed to your application.
  • SSL termination: Ingress controllers can handle SSL termination, allowing you to secure your application with SSL/TLS without the need for additional components.
  • Load balancing: Ingress controllers can provide load balancing capabilities, distributing incoming traffic evenly across multiple replicas of your application.

Types of ingress controllers

There are several types of ingress controllers available, including:

  • Application Gateway ingress controller: This is commonly used ingress controller in Azure environments. It uses Azure application gateway.
  • Nginx ingress controller: This is the most popular ingress controller and is based on the Nginx web server. It is widely used and is known for its stability and performance.
  • Traefik ingress controller: This ingress controller is designed for cloud-native environments and is known for its ease of use and automatic configuration.
  • Istio ingress controller: This ingress controller is part of the Istio service mesh and is known for its powerful traffic management capabilities.

How to set up an ingress controller

Setting up an ingress controller is relatively simple and involves the following steps:

  • Install the ingress controller: This typically involves deploying the ingress controller as a
  • Kubernetes deployment or DaemonSet. The specific installation method may vary depending on the ingress controller being used, but most ingress controllers can be installed using a Helm chart or by applying a Kubernetes manifest.
  • Create an ingress resource: Once the ingress controller is installed, you will need to create an ingress resource to define the routes that should be handled by the ingress controller. An ingress resource defines a set of rules that map incoming requests to specific services within the cluster.
  • Configure the ingress controller: After the ingress resource is created, you will need to configure the ingress controller to use the ingress resource. This typically involves specifying the ingress resource as the default route for the ingress controller.
  • Test the ingress controller: Once the ingress controller is set up and configured, you should test it to ensure that it is working properly. This can be done by sending a request to the ingress controller and checking that it is properly routing the request to the correct service.

Dos and Don’ts


  • Keep in mind that ingress controllers are only responsible for routing incoming requests, so make sure to properly configure and secure your services.
  • Use a well-maintained and popular ingress controller for production use.
  • Use ingress resource to define rules for routing requests to specific services.
  • Use annotations in ingress resource to configure additional features like authentication and rate limiting.


  • Don’t use the ingress controller as a catch-all for all traffic in the cluster.
  • Don’t use an ingress controller that is not well-maintained or not fit for production use.
  • Don’t forget to test the ingress controller after setting it up.
  • Don’t use the ingress controller to handle sensitive information, like authentication credentials. Use Kubernetes secrets instead.

When troubleshooting problems with an ingress controller, there are a few things to check. First, check the ingress controller logs. They should provide information about any issues that have occurred. Additionally, check the Kubernetes events and check if there are any relevant events regarding the ingress controller or the services it routes traffic to.

You can also use the kubectl command-line tool to check the status of the ingress controller and the services it routes traffic to. The following commands can be helpful:

kubectl get ingress
kubectl describe ingress [ingress-name]
kubectl get pods -n [ingress-namespace]
kubectl describe pods [pod-name] -n [ingress-namespace]

These commands will give you information about the ingress, the ingress controller pods, and any error messages.

In conclusion, Kubernetes ingress controllers are a powerful tool for managing incoming traffic to a cluster. By properly setting up, configuring, and securing an ingress controller, you can ensure that your services are easily accessible and highly available. Remember to use a well-maintained ingress controller, properly define rules for routing requests, and test the ingress controller after setup. With the right approach, ingress controllers can help keep your Kubernetes deployments running smoothly and efficiently.