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Telepresence Architecture

Telepresence Architecture

Telepresence CLI

The Telepresence CLI orchestrates the moving parts on the workstation: it starts the Telepresence Daemons, authenticates against Ambassador Cloud, and then acts as a user-friendly interface to the Telepresence User Daemon.

Telepresence Daemons

Telepresence has Daemons that run on a developer's workstation and act as the main point of communication to the cluster's network in order to communicate with the cluster and handle intercepted traffic.


The User-Daemon coordinates the creation and deletion of intercepts by communicating with the Traffic Manager. All requests from and to the cluster go through this Daemon.


The Root-Daemon manages the networking necessary to handle traffic between the local workstation and the cluster by setting up a Virtual Network Device (VIF). For a detailed description of how the VIF manages traffic and why it is necessary please refer to this blog post: Implementing Telepresence Networking with a TUN Device.


The cloud daemon manages communications with ambassador cloud. It displays notifications related to Telepresence and your Ambassador Cloud account. The cloud daemon also spawns the Telepresence system tray icon, which allows you to run basic commands from the system tray.

Traffic Manager

The Traffic Manager is the central point of communication between Traffic Agents in the cluster and Telepresence Daemons on developer workstations. It is responsible for injecting the Traffic Agent sidecar into intercepted pods, proxying all relevant inbound and outbound traffic, and tracking active intercepts.

The Traffic-Manager is installed, either by a cluster administrator using a Helm Chart, or on demand by the Telepresence User Daemon. When the User Daemon performs its initial connect, it first checks the cluster for the Traffic Manager deployment, and if missing it will make an attempt to install it using its embedded Helm Chart.

When an intercept gets created with a Preview URL, the Traffic Manager will establish a connection with Ambassador Cloud so that Preview URL requests can be routed to the cluster. This allows Ambassador Cloud to reach the Traffic Manager without requiring the Traffic Manager to be publicly exposed. Once the Traffic Manager receives a request from a Preview URL, it forwards the request to the ingress service specified at the Preview URL creation.

Traffic Agent

The Traffic Agent is a sidecar container that facilitates intercepts. When an intercept is first started, the Traffic Agent container is injected into the workload's pod(s). You can see the Traffic Agent's status by running telepresence list or kubectl describe pod <pod-name>.

Depending on the type of intercept that gets created, the Traffic Agent will either route the incoming request to the Traffic Manager so that it gets routed to a developer's workstation, or it will pass it along to the container in the pod usually handling requests on that port.

Ambassador Cloud

Ambassador Cloud enables Preview URLs by generating random ephemeral domain names and routing requests received on those domains from authorized users to the appropriate Traffic Manager.

Ambassador Cloud also lets users manage their Preview URLs: making them publicly accessible, seeing users who have accessed them and deleting them.


The Pod-Daemon is a modified version of the Telepresence User-Daemon built as a container image so that it can be inserted into a Deployment manifest as an additional container. This allows users to create intercepts completely within the cluster with the benefit that the intercept stays active until the deployment with the Pod-Daemon container is removed.

The Pod-Daemon will take arguments and environment variables as part of the Deployment manifest to specify which service the intercept should be run on and to provide similar configuration that would be provided when using Telepresence intercepts from the command line.

After being deployed to the cluster, it behaves similarly to the Telepresence User-Daemon and installs the Traffic Agent Sidecar on the service that is being intercepted. After the intercept is created, traffic can then be redirected to the Deployment with the Pod-Daemon container instead. The Pod-Daemon will automatically generate a Preview URL so that the intercept can be accessed from outside the cluster. The Preview URL can be obtained from the Pod-Daemon logs if you are deploying it manually.

The Pod-Daemon was created for use as a component of Deployment Previews in order to automatically create intercepts with development images built by CI so that changes from pull requests can be quickly visualized in a live cluster before changes are landed by accessing the Preview URL link which would be posted to an associated GitHub pull request when using Deployment Previews.

See the Deployment Previews quick-start for information on how to get started with Deployment Previews or for a reference on how Pod-Daemon can be manually deployed to the cluster.

Changes from Service Preview

Using Ambassador's previous offering, Service Preview, the Traffic Agent had to be manually added to a pod by an annotation. This is no longer required as the Traffic Agent is automatically injected when an intercept is started.

Service Preview also started an intercept via edgectl intercept. The edgectl CLI is no longer required to intercept as this functionality has been moved to the Telepresence CLI.

For both the Traffic Manager and Traffic Agents, configuring Kubernetes ClusterRoles and ClusterRoleBindings is not required as it was in Service Preview. Instead, the user running Telepresence must already have sufficient permissions in the cluster to add and modify deployments in the cluster.