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Kubernetes Services: A Practical Guide *

What are Kubernetes Services?

Before we delve deeper, let's establish what Kubernetes services are. Kubernetes, an open-source platform created by Google, allows users to automate the deployment, scaling, and management of applications. Kubernetes services, a significant feature of Kubernetes, are an abstract way to expose applications running on a set of pods.

Kubernetes services identify pods using label selectors. This enables the user to determine how the network traffic should be directed. The set of pods targeted by a service is generally determined by a label selector. Even if the number of pods changes, the service will continue to operate seamlessly.

The service abstraction enables decoupling of application dependencies, making the overall system more manageable. Kubernetes services also ensure that the application is available during the entire lifecycle of the project and across various pods. It's like a one-stop networking solution for distributed applications. See this in-depth blog post for additional background on Kubernetes services.

Importance of Kubernetes Services

Understanding Kubernetes services can significantly improve the way you manage applications. A service provides a single network address for a set of pods, making it easier to manage and scale applications. Kubernetes services ensure that the application is always available to the clients, thereby reducing the downtime and improving the user experience.

They also provide load balancing of network traffic between multiple pods, ensuring that no single pod is overwhelmed with traffic. This enhances the efficiency and performance of your applications. Additionally, Kubernetes services allow you to publish services to the DNS server, making it easier for other applications in the cluster to discover and communicate with them.

Kubernetes services also play a crucial role in microservices architecture. They enable the loose coupling between different components of the application, making it easier to update, scale and maintain the application. With Kubernetes services, you can ensure that each microservice is independently deployable and scalable, thereby improving the overall robustness and flexibility of your applications.

Types of Kubernetes Services

Kubernetes services are categorized into four types: ClusterIP, NodePort, LoadBalancer, and ExternalName. Each type has its unique characteristics and use-cases, which I'll explore in the following sections.

ClusterIP Service

ClusterIP is the default type of Kubernetes service. It provides a single IP address that other applications within the cluster can use to communicate with the set of pods. The IP address is stable and does not change throughout the lifecycle of the service.

ClusterIP service is particularly useful when you want your set of pods to be accessible only within the cluster. For example, you may have a backend microservice that is used by other microservices in your application but does not need to be exposed outside the cluster. For such scenarios, ClusterIP service is a perfect fit.

NodePort Service

NodePort service is a step further than ClusterIP service. In addition to providing an internal IP within the cluster, NodePort also enables access from outside the cluster by providing a static port on each Node in the cluster.

When a request comes to the NodePort, it is forwarded to the service. From there, the traffic is routed to one of the pods. This makes NodePort service ideal for cases where you want your application to be accessible from outside the cluster, such as exposing a web application to the internet.

LoadBalancer Service

LoadBalancer service is a more advanced type of Kubernetes service. It extends NodePort service and integrates with the cloud provider's load balancer. It automatically provisions an external load balancer, routes the external traffic to the service, and from there to the pods.

LoadBalancer service is ideal for applications that need to handle a large amount of external traffic. It ensures that the traffic is evenly distributed across the pods, enhancing the performance and reliability of your application.

ExternalName Service

Finally, we have ExternalName service. Unlike the other types, it does not route traffic to pods. Instead, it provides a way to return an alias to an external service.

It is useful when you want to access an external service from within your cluster, but you want to use the same naming and discovery mechanism as for your internal services. ExternalName service provides a seamless way to integrate external services into your Kubernetes application.

Kubernetes Services: Common Operations

How to Create a ClusterIP Service

A ClusterIP service, the default Kubernetes service, is used to expose the service on a cluster-internal IP. If you want your service to be reachable only from within the cluster, you should use ClusterIP.

To create a ClusterIP service, you need to define it in a YAML file. The key components you'll need include the API version, kind (service, in this case), metadata, spec (which includes the type, selector, and ports). The 'type' here would be ClusterIP.

Once your YAML file is ready, you can use the command kubectl apply -f <filename.yaml> to create the service. You can then use kubectl get services to check if your service has been created successfully.

How to Create a NodePort Service

The next type of Kubernetes service is the NodePort. A NodePort service is accessible from outside the cluster and is useful when you want to expose your service on the same port on each Node of the cluster.

Creating a NodePort service follows a similar process to creating a ClusterIP service. However, in your YAML file, the 'type' should be NodePort. Additionally, you need to specify the nodePort in the ports section.

After defining your service in the YAML file, use the command kubectl apply -f <filename.yaml> to create the service. To verify the creation of your service, use kubectl get services.

How to Create a LoadBalancer Service

A LoadBalancer service, as the name suggests, distributes network traffic across multiple nodes to optimize application responsiveness. This type of service is ideal if you want your application to handle high traffic volumes without crashing or slowing down.

Creating a LoadBalancer service is similar to creating ClusterIP and NodePort services. The key difference is that the 'type' in your YAML file should be LoadBalancer.

Once your YAML file is ready, you can use kubectl apply -f <filename.yaml> to create the service. You can check the status of your service with the command kubectl get services.

How to Create an ExternalName Service

The last type of Kubernetes service is ExternalName. It allows you to map a service to an ExternalName (like a DNS name) rather than to a typical selector like the other Kubernetes services.

Creating an ExternalName service is slightly different from the other services. In the YAML file, the 'type' should be ExternalName, and instead of a selector, you specify the externalName.

After preparing your YAML file, use kubectl apply -f <filename.yaml> to create the service. To check the status of your service, use kubectl get services.

In summary, Kubernetes services are an essential part of managing your IT infrastructure. They provide a reliable and consistent way to manage network traffic, ensuring that your applications run smoothly and efficiently. Understanding how to create and use these services can significantly improve your IT operations and contribute towards a more robust infrastructure.

Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.



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