Globalnet Controller


Submariner is a tool built to connect overlay networks of different Kubernetes clusters. These clusters can be on different public clouds or on-premises. An important use case for Submariner is to connect disparate independent clusters into a ClusterSet.

However, by default, a limitation of Submariner is that it doesn’t handle overlapping CIDRs (ServiceCIDR and ClusterCIDR) across clusters. Each cluster must use distinct CIDRs that don’t conflict or overlap with any other cluster that is going to be part of the ClusterSet.

Figure 1 - Problem with overlapping CIDRs

This is largely problematic because most actual deployments use the default CIDRs for a cluster so every cluster ends up using the same CIDRs. Changing CIDRs on existing clusters is a very disruptive process and requires a cluster restart. So Submariner needs a way to allow clusters with overlapping CIDRs to connect together.


To support overlapping CIDRs in connected clusters, Submariner has a component called Global Private Network, Globalnet (globalnet). This Globalnet is a virtual network specifically to support Submariner’s multi-cluster solution with a global CIDR. Each cluster is given a subnet from this virtual Global Private Network, configured as new cluster parameter GlobalCIDR (e.g. which is configurable at time of deployment. User can also manually specify GlobalCIDR for each cluster that is joined to the Broker using the flag globalnet-cidr passed to subctl join command. If Globalnet is not enabled in the Broker or if a GlobalCIDR is preconfigured in the cluster, the supplied Globalnet CIDR will be ignored.

Cluster-scope global egress IPs

By default, every cluster is assigned a configurable number of global IPs, represented by a ClusterGlobalEgressIP resource, which are used as egress IPs for cross-cluster communication. Multiple IPs are supported to avoid ephemeral port exhaustion issues. The default is 8. The IPs are allocated from a configurable global CIDR. Applications running on the host network that access remote clusters also use the cluster-level global egress IPs.

Namespace-scope global egress IPs

A user can assign a configurable number of global IPs per namespace by creating a GlobalEgressIP resource. These IPs are also allocated from the global CIDR and are used as egress IPs for all or selected pods in the namespace and take precedence over the cluster-level global IPs. In addition, the global IPs allocated for a GlobalEgressIP that targets specific pods in a namespace take precedence over the global IPs allocated for a GlobalEgressIP that just targets the namespace.

Service global ingress IPs

Exported ClusterIP type services are automatically allocated a global IP from the global CIDR for ingress. For headless services, each backing pod is allocated a global IP that is used for both ingress and egress. However, if a backing pod matches a GlobalEgressIP then its allocated IPs are used for egress.

Routing and iptable rules are configured to use the corresponding global IPs for ingress and egress. All address translations occur on the active Gateway node of the cluster.

Figure 1 - Proposed solution

Figure 2 - Globalnet priority


Submariner Globalnet is a component that provides cross-cluster connectivity from pods to remote services using their global IPs. Compiled as binary submariner-globalnet, it is responsible for maintaining a pool of global IPs, allocating IPs from the global IP pool to pods and services, and configuring the required rules on the gateway node to provide cross-cluster connectivity using global IPs. Globalnet also supports connectivity from the nodes (including pods that use host networking) to the global IP of remote services. It mainly consists of two key components: the IP Address Manager and Globalnet.

IP Address Manager (IPAM)

The IP Address Manager (IPAM) component does the following:

  • Creates a pool of IP addresses based on the GlobalCIDR configured on cluster.
  • Allocates IPs from the global pool for all ingress and egress, and releases them when no longer needed.


This component is responsible for programming the routing entries, iptable rules and does the following:

  • Creates initial iptables chains for Globalnet rules.
  • For each GlobalEgressIP, creates corresponding SNAT rules to convert the source IPs for all the matching pods to the corresponding global IP(s) allocated to the GlobalEgressIP object.
  • For each exported Service, it internally creates an additional Service with externalIPs, in the same namespace as the exported Service, and sets the externalIPs to the globalIP assigned to the respective Service.
  • Clean up the rules from the gateway node on the deletion of a Pod, Service, or ServiceExport.

Service Discovery - Lighthouse

Connectivity is only part of the solution as pods still need to know the IPs of services on remote clusters.

This is achieved by enhancing Lighthouse with support for Globalnet. The Lighthouse controller uses a service’s global IP when creating the ServiceImport for services of type ClusterIP. For headless services, backing pod’s global IP is used when creating the EndpointSlice resources to be distributed to other clusters. The Lighthouse plugin then uses the global IPs when replying to DNS queries.


Nothing extra needs to be done to build submariner-globalnet as it is built with the standard Submariner build.


Allow Globalnet controller to create/update/delete the Service with externalIPs by below steps:

  1. Disable DenyServiceExternalIPs, if enabled.
  2. Restrict the use of the Service with externalIPs:
    • OpenShift: No extra configuration is needed. The default validating admission plug-in allows the use of the Service with externalIPs only for users with permission to handle the service/externalips resource in the group. By default, submariner-globalnet's ServiceAccount has such an RBAC rule.
    • Other Kubernetes distributions: Enable externalip-webhook while specifying allowed-external-ip-cidrs to include the GlobalCIDR allocated to the cluster and allowed-usernames to include system:serviceaccount:submariner-operator:submariner-globalnet.

The steps above are necessary because for every exported Service, Submariner Globalnet internally creates a Service with externalIPs and sets the externalIPs to the globalIP assigned to the respective Service. Some deployments of Kubernetes do not allow the Service with externalIPs to be created for security reasons.


Refer to the Quickstart Guides on how to deploy Submariner with Globalnet enabled. For most deployments users will not need to do anything else once deployed. However, users can create GlobalEgressIPs or edit the ClusterGlobalEgressIP for specific use cases.

Ephemeral Port Exhaustion

By default, 8 cluster-scoped global IPs are allocated which allows for ~8x64k active ephemeral ports. If those are still not enough for a cluster, this number can be increased by setting the NumberOfIPs field in the ClusterGlobalEgressIP with the well-known name

   kind: ClusterGlobalEgressIP
     numberOfIPs: 9

Only the ClusterGlobalEgressIP resource with the name is recognized by Globalnet. This resource is automatically created with the default number of IPs.

Global IPs for a Namespace

If it’s desired for all pods in a namespace to use a unique global IP instead of one of the cluster-scoped IPs, a user can create a GlobalEgressIP resource in that namespace:

   kind: GlobalEgressIP
     name: ns-egressip
     namespace: ns1
     numberOfIPs: 1

The example above will allocate 1 global IP which will be used as egress IP for all pods in namespace ns1.

NumberOfIPs can have minimum value of 0 and maximum of 20

Global IPs for a set of pods

If it’s desired for a set of pods in a namespace to use unique global IP(s), a user can create a GlobalEgressIP resource in that namespace with the podSelector field set:

   kind: GlobalEgressIP
     name: db-pods
     namespace: ns1
           role: db
     numberOfIPs: 1

The example above will allocate 1 global IP which will be used as egress IP for all pods matching label role=db in namespace ns1.