5G CNFs require advanced networking services to support receive and transmit at high speed with low latency. The realization of advanced network capabilities must be achieved without deviating from the default networking abstraction provided by Kubernetes. The Cloud Native Networking design focuses on the ability to support multiple NICS in a Pod, where the primary NIC is dedicated to Kubernetes for management and the ability to attach additional networks dedicated to data forwarding.

Kubernetes Primary Interface with Antrea

Each node must have a management interface. The management and pod IP addresses must be routable for the Kubernetes health check to work. After the Tanzu Kubernetes cluster is deployed, Antrea networking is the default CNI for Pod-to-Pod communication within the cluster.

Design Recommendation

Design Justification

Design Implication

Each node must have at least one management network interface.

Management interface is used by K8s Pods to communicate within the Kubernetes cluster.

Nine vNICs remain for the CNF data plane traffic.

Use a dedicated Kubernetes Node IP block per NSX-T fabric.

  • IP block should be large enough to accommodate the expected number of Kubernetes clusters.

  • During the Kubernetes cluster deployment, allocate a single /24 subnet from the Nodes IP Block for each Kubernetes cluster to provide the sufficient IP address for cluster scale-out.

  • Smaller block size can be used if the cluster size is fixed or will not scale to a large number of nodes.

Dedicated subnet simplifies troubleshooting and routing.

  • This IP block must not overlap with Pod or Multus IP blocks.

  • IP address fragmentation can result in small cluster sizes.

Allocate a dedicated Kubernetes Pod IP block, if cannot be used.

  • Start with a /11 network for the Kubernetes Pods IP Block.

  • The Container Plugin uses this block to assign address space to Kubernetes pods. A single /24 network segment for the Pods IP Block is instantiated per Kubernetes node.

  • Pod IP block should not be routable outside of the K8s cluster.

This IP block must not overlap with Multus IP blocks. For Multus requirements, see the Secondary CNI Plugins section.

Allocate a dedicated Kubernetes Service IP block if cannot be used.

  • current best practice for performing Carrier-Grade NAT (CGN) as defined by RFC 6598.

  • IP block must not be routable outside of the K8s cluster.

  • This IP block must not overlap with Multus IP blocks. For Multus requirements, see the Secondary CNI Plugins section.

Secondary CNI Plugins

Multiple network interfaces can be realized by Multus, by working with the Antrea and additional upstream CNI plugins. Antrea creates primary or default networks for every pod. Additional interfaces can be both SR-IOV or VDS interfaces managed through Multus by using secondary CNI plugins. An IP Address Management (IPAM) instance assigned to the secondary interface is independent of the primary or default network.

The following figure illustrates the multus deployment architecture:

Figure 1. Multus Deployment
Multus Deployment

Design Recommendation

Design Justification

Design Implication

Enable Multus integration with the Kubernetes API server to provision both Kernel-based and passthrough network devices to a data plane CNF.

  • Multus CNI enables the attachment of multiple network interfaces to a Pod.

  • Multus acts as a "meta-plugin", a CNI plugin that can call multiple other CNI plugins.

Multus is an upstream plugin and follows the community support model.

Deploy the SR-IOV network device plugin to enable DPDK passthrough for workloads that require SR-IOV or ENS.

The SR-IOV network device plugin is a Kubernetes device plugin for discovering and advertising SR-IOV and ENS network virtual functions that are available on a Kubernetes host.

  • SR-IOV is an upstream plugin and follows the community support model.

  • Passthrough requires a dedicated NIC for each pod interface. The total number of available vNICs limits the maximum pod per worker node.

Ensure that only vNICs that meet performance requirements are exposed to the CNI and device plugin.

Based on the type of vNICs or passthrough interfaces, update the SR-IOV device plugin configMap to allow vNICs intended to be available to the Kubernetes scheduler and Kubelet.


Deploy the host-device CNI plugin to attach SR-IOV or ENS VF to a pod without DPDK.

  • Host-device CNI is a generic CNI for host devices. VF assignment to VM is performed at the hypervisor level.

  • Host-device CNI allows for post binding of device driver after container instantiation, without requiring cloud admin to preload the DPDK device driver on a vNIC.

  • Host-device CNI is an upstream plugin and follows the community support model.

  • Host-device CNI must be version 0.8.3 and above.

  • The container must be run in the privileged mode so that it can bind the interface.

Assign a dedicated IP block for additional container interfaces.

Note: IP address management for an additional interface must be separate from the primary container interface.

  • Specify a /16 network for the Multus IP Block for additional container interfaces.

  • The SR-IOV host-device CNI or macvlan Container Plugin uses this IP block to assign addresses to additional Kubernetes pod interfaces. A single /24 network segment can be assigned to each node.

  • Default host-local IPAM scope is per node instead of global.

  • Cluster-wide IPAM is available but requires additional out-of-the-box installation.

  • Additional care must be given to avoid IP address conflicts.

External Service Access

By default, 5GC components deployed in a Tanzu Kubernetes cluster have private IPs routable only within the cluster. To expose services outside the cluster, NSX Advanced Load Balancer, NodePort, or Ingress can be used.

Figure 2. Kubernetes Ingress
Kubernetes Ingress

NSX Advanced Load Balancer: NSX Load Balancer is a cloud-native Load Balancer and Ingress Controller. It provides the functionality of an External Load Balancer that enables external hosting of the service IP and then routes the packets to backend pods directly. It supports TCP/UDP/HTTP protocols. NSX Load Balancer can integrate with vCenter and NSX-T to create the required Service engines automatically with the required network connectivity to provide a seamless experience when LoadBalancer service is created.

NodePort: NodePort uses the Kube proxy to provide NAT capability through the K8s cluster node IP. Since NodePort leverages the cluster node for forwarding, it can support a wide variety of protocols, including SCTP, commonly used for Telco applications.

Ingress: For HTTP-based traffic, Ingress is an API object that describes a collection of rules to allow external access to cluster services. An Ingress can be configured to provide externally reachable URLs, load balance traffic, terminate SSL, and offer name-based virtual hosting.

You can use NSX Advanced Load Balancer, NodePort, or Ingress as follows:



SCTP and others

NSX Advanced Load Balancer