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Optimizing Cost and Efficiency in Kubernetes API Gateways

Jake Beck
November 17, 2023 | 10 min read
Best API Gateway to Cut Costs and Boost Efficiency

Kubernetes has become a cornerstone of enterprise computing, with DZone’s 2023 report revealing that 80% of enterprises have adopted it.

But every one of those 80% knows that Kubernetes management becomes critical as you scale using containerization. Kubernetes isn’t set-and-forget. Instead, you must constantly look for optimizations and efficiencies in your Kubernetes use.

One of the best options for managing these burdens is a Kubernetes API gateway. API gateways act as a critical intermediary between your Kubernetes-managed microservices and the external traffic they handle. They simplify the complexity of managing multiple services by offering a single entry point consolidating service calls into a unified interface.

By incorporating an API gateway into your Kubernetes ecosystem, you can achieve a more robust, scalable, and secure architecture that can adapt to the evolving needs of your enterprise. Here, we want to show you how the Kubernetes-native Edge Stack API Gateway can help improve efficiency and cut costs while delivering a better experience for your customers and developers.

Reducing Costs and Improving Efficiency

Setting up Kubernetes and all the associated infrastructure is expensive. Not only do you need the compute and storage to drive the containers, but you also need ingress controllers, databases, caches, authentication and authorization services, and all the plugins that go with these.

Not only is each of these a cost on its own, but the combination makes management of the Kubernetes infrastructure harder, necessitating a larger DevOps team. You have to pay more to build and manage the infrastructure.

Reduce these costs in three ways:

  1. Batteries are included. Edge Stack isn’t just an ingress controller. It has everything you need to manage the gateway and get traffic to your services. It provides authentication and authorization mechanisms so you can secure your services. It includes Redis by default. It doesn’t require external Postgres databases or plugins. There are no ‘extras’ to pay. By consolidating multiple functionalities into one platform, Edge Stack significantly reduces the need for additional investments in separate tools.
  2. It’s easier to maintain. As a single-point solution, your team doesn’t have to worry about integrating different services. They can use declarative workflows to efficiently manage the entire stack without needing a ton of dashboards or custom workarounds to get everything to work together.
  3. It’s efficient. Edge Stack scales well in terms of compute and memory use. Even when mappings, hosts, and backends increase, compute and memory stay flat. This means you can drastically scale your services, as Kubernetes is designed to do, without penalty.
Edge Stack Implementation

(From our Implementing Edge Stack Whitepaper)

Edge Stack reduces infrastructure costs, eliminates the need for third-party solutions, and enhances resource utilization. All leading to better cost efficiency for enterprise companies.

Scale Using Seamless Kubernetes Integration

Edge Stack is designed with Kubernetes best practices in mind, ensuring native compatibility with Kubernetes clusters.

This native integration sets it apart from more generic API gateways. Because generic API gateways can be deployed outside Kubernetes, they can’t use Kubernetes' best practices, automatic service discovery, intelligent traffic routing, or use policies for simplified management.

This causes significant problems when scaling with Kubernetes. To increase reliability, you need an API gateway to handle high traffic volumes and route traffic to the correct service or backend without manual involvement. Edge Stack does this through the native ingress controller. The API Gateway supports many protocols, including TCP, HTTP/1/2/3, and gRPC. It is also equipped to handle TLS and mTLS termination, essential for secure communications within the cluster.

It also simplifies traffic management by allowing automatic load balancing, retries, rate-limiting, and timeouts. Having each of these built-in to the gateway means there is no need for additional software or hardware solutions for these functions, streamlining operations and reducing overall system complexity and maintenance costs.

All this can be managed through edge policy management and declarative workflows. Because Edge Stack is native to Kubernetes, it can use Kubernetes Custom Resource Definitions (CRDs). CRDs are user-defined custom resources that extend Kubernetes' API, allowing for the creation of new, custom objects specific to your application's needs, thereby enhancing the customization and flexibility of your Kubernetes environment.

Each is only an opportunity because Edge Stack has been built to serve Kubernetes exclusively and seamlessly integrate with the system.

Increased Security and Reliability

As the “front door” of your services, security is a vital aspect of any API gateway. It not only has to route traffic but also make sure only the right traffic gets through.

To mitigate potential security threats, Edge Stack is equipped with features like: :

  • Automatic TLS. Edge Stack ensures secure communication by automatically implementing Transport Layer Security (TLS) for encrypted data transfer.
  • Comprehensive authentication options. It offers a variety of authentication methods, including OAuth 2, JWT, Single Sign-On (SSO), and OpenID Connect (OIDC) to verify and manage user access.
  • Rate limiting. This feature helps control traffic flow to services, preventing overuse and potential denial-of-service attacks.
  • IP allow/deny listing. Edge Stack can restrict or permit traffic based on IP addresses, enhancing security by blocking unwanted or malicious sources.
  • WAF integration. Integration with Web Application Firewalls (WAF) allows additional security measures to protect against common web exploits and vulnerabilities.
  • Fine-grained access control. It provides detailed access management, ensuring that users and services have the appropriate level of access to resources.

Each of these also helps to ensure the reliability of your services. The automatic TLS and comprehensive authentication options are crucial in safeguarding data integrity and verifying user identities.

Rate limiting and IP allow/deny listing are instrumental in thwarting traffic-based threats, such as DDoS attacks, ensuring that only legitimate requests are processed. WAF integration offers an additional layer of defense against sophisticated web-based attacks.

Finally, fine-grained access control empowers administrators to precisely manage who accesses what, minimizing the risk of internal threats or accidental data breaches. Together, these features enhance security and ensure that the services remain consistently available and reliable, which is essential for maintaining user trust and service continuity.

Speed Up Developer Experience

A tool’s usability is key to its adoption; it won't be utilized if it’s not user-friendly. The users of Edge Stack are your developers, so we put the developer experience at the heart of the product.

We’ve done this in two main ways. The first is to allow self-service control and flexibility over how your team needs to work with Edge Stack. Developers are in control over edge proxies to speed up your development cycles. This streamlines the development and deployment processes.

Second, Edge Stack utilizes a decentralized and declarative workflow using the CRDs we described above. We’ve built out two specific CRDs for use by different teams:

  • Operator-focused CRDs allow your DevOps team to extend and configure host, listener, and security options within Kubernetes.
  • Developer-focused CRDs allow the developers of your microservice to include mappings and rate-limiting configurations in their deployments quickly.

These can be reconfigured with zero downtime, so your teams don’t have to worry about managing downtime.

All of this integrates with GitOps and any existing Kubernetes workflows you have. That is the advantage to your team of choosing a Kubernetes-native API gateway like Edge Stack.

Kubernetes-Native Integration is the Way to Go

The cost-effectiveness, scalability, and enhanced reliability of Edge Stack stem from its dedicated design for Kubernetes environments. It is a Kubernetes-specific API gateway, and this tight integration allows for performance optimizations and streamlined operational processes.

This close integration with Kubernetes architecture reduces the need for additional resources and simplifies management, resulting in significant cost savings and a more efficient deployment lifecycle, aligning perfectly with the dynamic needs of modern cloud-native environments.

Edge Stack

Simplify and secure your Kubernetes application development