Clusters Vs Namespaces

by Aug 29, 2022Article

When developing cloud-native apps, isolation is a must. It is therefore key to understand the differences between clusters vs namespaces.  The different services running in each cluster must have their own private space, so their code and the information they keep are not accessible by others with malicious intent. We also need a safe space where a misstep in the coding doesn’t bring the whole system down. Let’s break down how to differentiate between clusters vs namespaces.

Clusters vs Namespaces: What are clusters?

We can isolate the different projects by hosting them in separate clusters. This way we would have the privacy and security we need, with specific resources reserved for each project. It is also possible to manage multiple clusters via a single control plane.

This architecture is not without its downsides:

  • Clusters consume a lot of valuable resources even when we may not need them to. Each cluster in use implies cloud computing resources even if they’re not being used, like on weekends or at night.
  • Cluster management is not a trivial task, and it requires a broad and in-depth knowledge of Kubernetes. Managing several clusters is a daunting task in and of itself.
  • We can use a control plane for that, but the control plane adds another layer of complexity on top of the already intricated Kubernetes architecture. The clusters will be harder to set up and manage since the control plane data needs to be in sync across all clusters. This needs to be done while also preventing inter-cluster communication since the main goal of having multiple clusters is the isolation between them.

Clusters vs Namespaces: What are namespaces?

We have a choice, though. We can use Kubernetes namespaces for this. Namespaces are a way to divide clusters into virtual sub-spaces, so different teams or projects can share the same cluster. Each namespace is logically separated from others but can communicate with them.

This allows us to:

  • Have different projects in the same cluster without them clashing with each other. Namespaces separate the workloads so they don’t collide.
  • Restrict users and processes to certain namespaces. We can limit the access to certain projects, so the developer teams only see the projects they’re working on, while still being able to define users and processes that can communicate between projects, which can be reserved for project managers or other roles.
  • Manage the cluster’s resources among the different namespaces. We have administrative control over resources, via resource quotas and limits.

Using multiple namespaces is also a lot simpler than using multiple clusters. We can create them with a single Kubernetes command, and managing them is very straightforward too. For example, IT teams can isolate not only each project they’re working on but also the development, test, and production environments for each project.

The biggest inconvenience is that it provides less isolation than a multiple cluster architecture, because the division is virtual, after all. The most common way for security or privacy issues to arise is by having configuration mistakes, such as ill-defined ClusterRoles.

The management of exceptions in the namespace isolation rules is another issue, for cases like several microservices that need to communicate with each other or share information. It begins as an exception and, as time passes and the projects grow, the number of exceptions grows with them. It ends up being a nightmare for the cluster administrators to manage.

How can Napptive help?

Now that we have resolved the key differences between Clusters vs namespaces, Napptive is here to help. Napptive provides an extra layer that simplifies Kubernetes management in such a way that you don’t need to know anything about it in order to start working with cloud-native apps.

In Napptive you will use environments, which will give you the space and tools you need for application deployment. Napptive works with namespaces underneath but takes care of all the setup and management for you, so you will perceive each environment as an isolated entity.

Once you create your environment, you can start deploying apps right away. It is recommended that you follow the tutorial for deploying your first application, so you can get familiar with the process, but you will soon see that it is a quick and intuitive task, and will be ready to deploy your own custom application in the system in no time.

We encourage you to test our playground and see how you can accelerate your cloud-native development. It’s completely free, you simply need to sign up and get started!