7 min • read


Why Telepresence?

Modern microservices-based applications that are deployed into Kubernetes often consist of tens or hundreds of services. The resource constraints and number of these services means that it is often difficult to impossible to run all of this on a local development machine, which makes fast development and debugging very challenging. The fast inner development loop from previous software projects is often a distant memory for cloud developers.

Telepresence enables you to connect your local development machine seamlessly to the cluster via a two way proxying mechanism. This enables you to code locally and run the majority of your services within a remote Kubernetes cluster -- which in the cloud means you have access to effectively unlimited resources.

Ultimately, this empowers you to develop services locally and still test integrations with dependent services or data stores running in the remote cluster.

You can “intercept” any requests made to a target Kubernetes workload, and code and debug your associated service locally using your favourite local IDE and in-process debugger. You can test your integrations by making requests against the remote cluster’s ingress and watching how the resulting internal traffic is handled by your service running locally.

By using the preview URL functionality you can share access with additional developers or stakeholders to the application via an entry point associated with your intercept and locally developed service. You can make changes that are visible in near real-time to all of the participants authenticated and viewing the preview URL. All other viewers of the application entrypoint will not see the results of your changes.

What operating systems does Telepresence work on?

Telepresence currently works natively on macOS (Intel and Apple silicon), Linux, and WSL 2. Starting with v2.4.0, we are also releasing a native Windows version of Telepresence that we are considering a Developer Preview.

What protocols can be intercepted by Telepresence?

All HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2 protocols can be intercepted. This includes:

  • REST
  • JSON/XML over HTTP
  • gRPC
  • GraphQL

If you need another protocol supported, please drop us a line to request it.

When using Telepresence to intercept a pod, are the Kubernetes cluster environment variables proxied to my local machine?

Yes, you can either set the pod's environment variables on your machine or write the variables to a file to use with Docker or another build process. Please see the environment variable reference doc for more information.

When using Telepresence to intercept a pod, can the associated pod volume mounts also be mounted by my local machine?

Yes, please see the volume mounts reference doc for more information.

When connected to a Kubernetes cluster via Telepresence, can I access cluster-based services via their DNS name?

Yes. After you have successfully connected to your cluster via telepresence connect you will be able to access any service in your cluster via their namespace qualified DNS name.

This means you can curl endpoints directly e.g. curl <my_service_name>.<my_service_namespace>:8080/mypath.

If you create an intercept for a service in a namespace, you will be able to use the service name directly.

This means if you telepresence intercept <my_service_name> -n <my_service_namespace>, you will be able to resolve just the <my_service_name> DNS record.

You can connect to databases or middleware running in the cluster, such as MySQL, PostgreSQL and RabbitMQ, via their service name.

When connected to a Kubernetes cluster via Telepresence, can I access cloud-based services and data stores via their DNS name?

You can connect to cloud-based data stores and services that are directly addressable within the cluster (e.g. when using an ExternalName Service type), such as AWS RDS, Google pub-sub, or Azure SQL Database.

What types of ingress does Telepresence support for the preview URL functionality?

The preview URL functionality should work with most ingress configurations, including straightforward load balancer setups.

Telepresence will discover/prompt during first use for this info and make its best guess at figuring this out and ask you to confirm or update this.

Why are my intercepts still reporting as active when they've been disconnected?

In certain cases, Telepresence might not have been able to communicate back with Ambassador Cloud to update the intercept's status. Worry not, they will get garbage collected after a period of time.

Why is my intercept associated with an "Unreported" cluster?

Intercepts tagged with "Unreported" clusters simply mean Ambassador Cloud was unable to associate a service instance with a known detailed service from an Edge Stack or API Gateway cluster. Connecting your cluster to the Service Catalog will properly match your services from multiple data sources.

Will Telepresence be able to intercept workloads running on a private cluster or cluster running within a virtual private cloud (VPC)?

Yes. The cluster has to have outbound access to the internet for the preview URLs to function correctly, but it doesn’t need to have a publicly accessible IP address.

The cluster must also have access to an external registry in order to be able to download the traffic-manager and traffic-agent images that are deployed when connecting with Telepresence.

Why does running Telepresence require sudo access for the local daemon?

The local daemon needs sudo to create iptable mappings. Telepresence uses this to create outbound access from the laptop to the cluster.

On Fedora, Telepresence also creates a virtual network device (a TUN network) for DNS routing. That also requires root access.

What components get installed in the cluster when running Telepresence?

A single traffic-manager service is deployed in the ambassador namespace within your cluster, and this manages resilient intercepts and connections between your local machine and the cluster.

A Traffic Agent container is injected per pod that is being intercepted. The first time a workload is intercepted all pods associated with this workload will be restarted with the Traffic Agent automatically injected.

How can I remove all of the Telepresence components installed within my cluster?

You can run the command telepresence uninstall --everything to remove the traffic-manager service installed in the cluster and traffic-agent containers injected into each pod being intercepted.

Running this command will also stop the local daemon running.

What language is Telepresence written in?

All components of the Telepresence application and cluster components are written using Go.

How does Telepresence connect and tunnel into the Kubernetes cluster?

The connection between your laptop and cluster is established by using the kubectl port-forward machinery (though without actually spawning a separate program) to establish a TCP connection to Telepresence Traffic Manager in the cluster, and running Telepresence's custom VPN protocol over that TCP connection.

What identity providers are supported for authenticating to view a preview URL?

  • GitHub
  • GitLab
  • Google

More authentication mechanisms and identity provider support will be added soon. Please let us know which providers are the most important to you and your team in order for us to prioritize those.

Is Telepresence open source?

Yes it is! You can find its source code on GitHub.

How do I share my feedback on Telepresence?

Your feedback is always appreciated and helps us build a product that provides as much value as possible for our community. You can chat with us directly on our feedback page, or you can join our Slack channel to share your thoughts.