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Version: 3.18 (latest)

Configure egress gateways, on-premises

Big picture

Configure specific application traffic to exit the cluster through an egress gateway.


When traffic from particular applications leaves the cluster to access an external destination, it can be useful to control the source IP of that traffic. For example, there may be an additional firewall around the cluster, whose purpose includes policing external accesses from the cluster, and specifically that particular external destinations can only be accessed from authorised workloads within the cluster.

Calico Enterprise's own policy (including DNS policy) and per-node firewalls can ensure this, but deployments may like to deepen their defense by adding an external firewall as well. If the external firewall is configured to allow outbound connections only from particular source IPs, and the intended cluster workloads can be configured so that their outbound traffic will have one of those source IPs, then the defense in depth objective is achieved.

Calico Enterprise allows specifying an IP pool for each pod or namespace, and even a specific IP for a new pod, but this requires predicting how many pods there will be representing a particular application, so that the IP pool can be correctly sized. When IPs are a precious resource, over-sizing the pool is wasteful; but under-sizing is also problematic, as then IPs will not be available within the desired range as the application is scaled.

Egress gateways provide an alternative approach. Application pods and namespaces are provisioned with IPs from the default (and presumably plentiful) pool, but also configured so that their outbound traffic is directed through an egress gateway. (Or, for resilience, through one of a small number of egress gateways.) The egress gateways are set up to use a specific IP pool and to perform an SNAT on the traffic passing through them. Hence, any number of application pods can have their outbound connections multiplexed through a fixed small number of egress gateways, and all of those outbound connections acquire a source IP from the egress gateway IP pool.


The source port of an outbound flow through an egress gateway can generally not be preserved. Changing the source port is how Linux maps flows from many upstream IPs onto a single downstream IP.

Egress gateways are also useful if there is a reason for wanting all outbound traffic from a particular application to leave the cluster through a particular node or nodes. For this case, the gateways just need to be scheduled to the desired nodes, and the application pods/namespaces configured to use those gateways.


Egress gateway

An egress gateway acts as a transit pod for the outbound application traffic that is configured to use it. As traffic leaving the cluster passes through the egress gateway, its source IP is changed to that of the egress gateway pod, and the traffic is then forwarded on.

Source IP

When an outbound application flow leaves the cluster, its IP packets will have a source IP. Normally this is the pod IP of the pod that originated the flow, or the node IP of the node hosting that pod. It will be the node IP if the pod IP came from an IP pool with natOutgoing: true, and the pod IP if not. (Assuming no other CNI plugin has been configured to NAT outgoing traffic.)

With an egress gateway involved that is all still true, except that now it's the egress gateway that counts, instead of the original application pod. So the flow will have the egress gateway's node IP, if the egress gateway's pod IP came from an IP pool with natOutgoing: true, and the egress gateway's pod IP otherwise.

Control the use of egress gateways

If a cluster ascribes special meaning to traffic flowing through egress gateways, it will be important to control when cluster users can configure their pods and namespaces to use them, so that non-special pods cannot impersonate the special meaning.

If namespaces in a cluster can only be provisioned by cluster admins, one option is to enable egress gateway function only on a per-namespace basis. Then only cluster admins will be able to configure any egress gateway usage.

Otherwise -- if namespace provisioning is open to users in general, or if it's desirable for egress gateway function to be enabled both per-namespace and per-pod -- a Kubernetes admission controller will be needed. This is a task for each deployment to implement for itself, but possible approaches include the following.

  1. Decide whether a given Namespace or Pod is permitted to use egress annotations at all, based on other details of the Namespace or Pod definition.

  2. Evaluate egress annotation selectors to determine the egress gateways that they map to, and decide whether that usage is acceptable.

  3. Impose the cluster's own bespoke scheme for a Namespace or Pod to identify the egress gateways that it wants to use, less general than Calico Enterprise's egress annotations. Then the admission controller would police those bespoke annotations (that that cluster's users could place on Namespace or Pod resources) and either reject the operation in hand, or allow it through after adding the corresponding Calico Enterprise egress annotations.

Policy enforcement for flows via an egress gateway

For an outbound connection from a client pod, via an egress gateway, to a destination outside the cluster, there is more than one possible enforcement point for policy:

The path of the traffic through policy is as follows:

  1. Packet leaves the client pod and passes through its egress policy.
  2. The packet is encapsulated by the client pod's host and sent to the egress gateway
  3. The encapsulated packet is sent from the host to the egress gateway pod.
  4. The egress gateway pod de-encapsulates the packet and sends the packet out again with its own address.
  5. The packet leaves the egress gateway pod through its egress policy.

To ensure correct operation, (as of v3.15) the encapsulated traffic between host and egress gateway is auto-allowed by Calico Enterprise and other ingress traffic is blocked. That means that there are effectively two places where policy can be applied:

  1. on egress from the client pod
  2. on egress from the egress gateway pod (see limitations below).

The policy applied at (1) is the most powerful since it implicitly sees the original source of the traffic (by virtue of being attached to that original source). It also sees the external destination of the traffic.

Since an egress gateway will never originate its own traffic, one option is to rely on policy applied at (1) and to allow all traffic to at (2) (either by applying no policy or by applying an "allow all").

Alternatively, for maximum "defense in depth" applying policy at both (1) and (2) provides extra protection should the policy at (1) be disabled or bypassed by an attacker. Policy at (2) has the following limitations:

  • Domain-based policy is not supported at egress from egress gateways. It will either fail to match the expected traffic, or it will work intermittently if the egress gateway happens to be scheduled to the same node as its clients. This is because any DNS lookup happens at the client pod. By the time the policy reaches (2) the DNS information is lost and only the IP addresses of the traffic are available.

  • The traffic source will appear to be the egress gateway pod, the source information is lost in the address translation that occurs inside the egress gateway pod.

That means that policies at (2) will usually take the form of rules that match only on destination port and IP address, either directly in the rule (via a CIDR match) or via a (non-domain based) NetworkSet. Matching on source has little utility since the IP will always be the egress gateway and the port of translated traffic is not always preserved.


Since v3.15.0, Calico Enterprise also sends health probes to the egress gateway pods from the nodes where their clients are located. In iptables mode, this traffic is auto-allowed at egress from the host and ingress to the egress gateway. In eBPF mode, the probe traffic can be blocked by policy, so you must ensure that this traffic allowed; this should be fixed in an upcoming patch release.

Before you begin


  • GKE


  • Calico CNI
  • Open port UDP 4790 on the host

How to

Enable egress gateway support

In the default FelixConfiguration, set the egressIPSupport field to EnabledPerNamespace or EnabledPerNamespaceOrPerPod, according to the level of support that you need in your cluster. For support on a per-namespace basis only:

kubectl patch felixconfiguration default --type='merge' -p \

Or for support both per-namespace and per-pod:

kubectl patch felixconfiguration default --type='merge' -p \
  • egressIPSupport must be the same on all cluster nodes, so you should set them only in the default FelixConfiguration resource.
  • The operator automatically enables the required policy sync API in the FelixConfiguration.

Provision an egress IP pool

Provision a small IP Pool with the range of source IPs that you want to use for a particular application when it connects to an external service. For example:

kubectl apply -f - <<EOF
kind: IPPool
name: egress-ippool-1
blockSize: 31
nodeSelector: "!all()"


  • blockSize must be specified when the prefix length of the whole cidr is more than the default blockSize of 26.

  • nodeSelector: "!all()" is recommended so that this egress IP pool is not accidentally used for cluster pods in general. Specifying this nodeSelector means that the IP pool is only used for pods that explicitly identify it in their annotation.

  • Set ipipMode or vxlanMode to Always if the pod network has IPIP or VXLAN enabled.


    This setting is not specific to egress gateway. In some cases where nodes happen to be in the same subnet, setting the value to Neverwill work the same as Always. It all depends on the hop from the client node to the egress gateway node. For example, if the client nodes are in the same AWS subnet, and you are using Always because some of the nodes are in different subnets, then Never will work for the egress IP Pool when the client and gateway nodes are in the same subnet.

Deploy a group of egress gateways

Use an egress gateway custom resource to deploy a group of egress gateways, using the egress IP Pool.

kubectl apply -f - <<EOF
kind: EgressGateway
name: egress-gateway
namespace: default
logSeverity: "Info"
replicas: 1
- cidr: ""
healthTimeoutDataStoreSeconds: 30
ips: [""]
timeoutSeconds: 15
intervalSeconds: 5
urls: [""]
timeoutSeconds: 30
intervalSeconds: 10
egress-code: red
nodeSelector: linux
terminationGracePeriodSeconds: 0


  • It is advisable to have more than one egress gateway per group, so that the egress IP function continues if one of the gateways crashes or needs to be restarted. When there are multiple gateways in a group, outbound traffic from the applications using that group is load-balanced across the available gateways. The number of replicas specified must be less than or equal to the number of free IP addresses in the IP Pool.

  • IPPool can be specified either by its name (e.g. -name: egress-ippool-1) or by its CIDR (e.g. -cidr:

  • The labels are arbitrary. You can choose whatever names and values are convenient for your cluster's Namespaces and Pods to refer to in their egress selectors.

    If labels are not specified, a default label will be added by the Tigera Operator.

  • icmpProbe may be used to specify the Probe IPs, ICMP interval and timeout in seconds. ips if set, the egress gateway pod will probe each IP periodically using an ICMP ping. If all pings fail then the egress gateway will report non-ready via its health port. intervalSeconds controls the interval between probes. timeoutSeconds controls the timeout before reporting non-ready if no probes succeed.

    - probeIP
    - probeIP
    timeoutSeconds: 20
    intervalSeconds: 10
  • httpProbe may be used to specify the Probe URLs, HTTP interval and timeout in seconds. urls if set, the egress gateway pod will probe each external service periodically. If all probes fail then the egress gateway will report non-ready via its health port. intervalSeconds controls the interval between probes. timeoutSeconds controls the timeout before reporting non-ready if all probes are failing.

    - probeURL
    - probeURL
    timeoutSeconds: 30
    intervalSeconds: 10
  • Please refer to the operator reference docs for details about the egress gateway resource type.

The health port 8080 is used by:

  • The Kubernetes readinessProbe to expose the status of the egress gateway pod (and any ICMP/HTTP probes).
  • Remote pods to check if the egress gateway is "ready". Only "ready" egress gateways will be used for remote client traffic. This traffic is automatically allowed by Calico Enterprise and no policy is required to allow it. Calico Enterprise only sends probes to egress gateway pods that have a named "health" port. This ensures that during an upgrade, health probes are only sent to upgraded egress gateways.

Deploy on a RKE2 CIS-hardened cluster

If you are deploying egress-gateway on a RKE2 CIS-hardened cluster, its PodSecurityPolicies restrict the securityContext and volumes required by egress gateway. When deploying using the egress gateway custom resource, the Tigera Operator sets up PodSecurityPolicy, Role, RoleBinding and associated ServiceAccount.

Configure iptables backend for egress gateways

The Tigera Operator configures egress gateways to use the same iptables backend as calico-node. To modify the iptables backend for egress gateways, you must change the iptablesBackend field in the Felix configuration.

Configure IP autodetection for dual-ToR clusters.

If you plan to use Egress Gateways in a dual-ToR cluster, you must also adjust the cnx-node IP auto-detection method to pick up the stable IP, for example using the interface: lo setting (The default first-found setting skips over the lo interface). This can be configured via the Calico Enterprise Installation resource.

Configure namespaces and pods to use egress gateways

You can configure namespaces and pods to use an egress gateway by:

  • annotating the namespace or pod
  • applying an egress gateway policy to the namespace or pod.

Using an egress gateway policy is more complicated, but it allows advanced use cases.

Configure a namespace or pod to use an egress gateway (annotation method)

In a Calico Enterprise deployment, the Kubernetes namespace and pod resources honor annotations that tell that namespace or pod to use particular egress gateways. These annotations are selectors, and their meaning is "the set of pods, anywhere in the cluster, that match those selectors".

So, to configure all the pods in a namespace to use the egress gateways that are labelled with egress-code: red, you would annotate that namespace like this:

kubectl annotate ns <namespace>"egress-code == 'red'"

By default, that selector can only match egress gateways in the same namespace. To select gateways in a different namespace, specify a namespaceSelector annotation as well, like this:

kubectl annotate ns <namespace>" == 'default'"

Egress gateway annotations have the same syntax and range of expressions as the selector fields in Calico Enterprise network policy.

To configure a specific Kubernetes Pod to use egress gateways, specify the same annotations when creating the pod. For example:

kubectl apply -f - <<EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
annotations: egress-code == 'red' == 'default'
name: my-client,
namespace: my-namespace,

Configure a namespace or pod to use an egress gateway (egress gateway policy method)

Creating an egress gateway policy allows gives you more control over how your egress gateways work. For example, you can:

  • Send egress gateway traffic to multiple egress gateways, depending on the destination.
  • Skip egress gateways for traffic that is bound for local endpoints that aren't in the cluster.

The following is an example of Egress Gateway Policy:

kind: EgressGatewayPolicy
name: "egw-policy1"
- destination:
description: "Local: no gateway"
- destination:
description: "Gateway to on prem"
namespaceSelector: " == 'default'"
selector: "egress-code == 'blue'"
maxNextHops: 2
- description: "Gateway to internet"
namespaceSelector: " == 'default'"
selector: "egress-code == 'red'"
gatewayPreference: PreferNodeLocal
  1. If the destination field is not specified, it takes the default value of

  2. If the gateway field is not specified, then egress traffic is routed locally, and not through an egress gateway. This is helpful for reaching local endpoints that are not part of a cluster.

  3. Required when gateway field is specified.

  4. Required when gateway field is specified.

  5. The maxNextHops field specifies the maximum number of egress gateway replicas from the selected deployment that a pod depends on. For more information, see Optimize egress networking for workloads with long-lived TCP connections.

  6. gatewayPreference specifies hints to the gateway selection process. The default None, selects the default selection process. If set to PreferNodeLocal, then egress gateways local to the client's node are used if available. If there are no local egress gateways, Calico Enterprise uses other egress gateways. In this example, for the default route, egress gateways local to the client's node are used if present. If not, all egress gateways matching the selector are used.


CIDRs specified in rules in an egress gateway policy are matched in Longest Prefix Match(LPM) fashion.

Calico Enterprise rejects egress gateway policies that do any of the following:

  • The policy has no rule that specifies a gateway or a destination
  • The policy has a rule with empty selector or namespaceSelector fields.
  • The policy has two or more rules with the same destination.

To configure all the pods in a namespace to use an egress gateway policy named egw-policy1, you could annotate the namespace like this:

kubectl annotate ns <namespace>"egw-policy1"

To configure a specific Kubernetes pod to use the same policy, specify the same annotations when creating the pod. For example:

kubectl apply -f - <<EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
annotations: "egw-policy1"
name: my-client,
namespace: my-namespace,

You must create the egress gateway policy before you apply it to a namespace or pod. If you attempt to apply an egress gateway policy that has not been created, Calico Enterprise will block all traffic from the namespace or pod.

Optionally enable ECMP load balancing

If you are provisioning multiple egress gateways for a given client pod, and you want traffic from that client to load balance across the available gateways, set the fib_multipath_hash_policy sysctl to allow that:

sudo sysctl -w net.ipv4.fib_multipath_hash_policy=1

You will need this on each node with clients that you want to load balance across multiple egress gateways.

Verify the feature operation

To verify the feature operation, cause the application pod to initiate a connection to a server outside the cluster, and observe -- for example using tcpdump -- the source IP of the connection packet as it reaches the server.


In order for such a connection to complete, the server must know how to route back to the egress gateway's IP.

By way of a concrete example, you could use netcat to run a test server outside the cluster; for example:

docker run --net=host --privileged subfuzion/netcat -v -l -k -p 8089

Then provision an egress IP Pool, and egress gateways, as above.

Then deploy a pod, with egress annotations as above, and with any image that includes netcat, for example:

kubectl apply -f - <<EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
name: my-netcat-pod
namespace: my-namespace
- name: alpine
image: alpine
command: ["/bin/sleep"]
args: ["infinity"]

Now you can use kubectl exec to initiate an outbound connection from that pod:

kubectl exec <pod name> -n <pod namespace> -- nc <server IP> 8089 </dev/null

where <server IP> should be the IP address of the netcat server.

Then, if you check the logs or output of the netcat server, you should see:

Connection from <source IP> <source port> received

with <source IP> being one of the IPs of the egress IP pool that you provisioned.

Upgrade egress gateways

From v3.16, egress gateway deployments are managed by the Tigera Operator.

  • When upgrading from a pre-v3.16 release, no automatic upgrade will occur. To upgrade a pre-v3.16 egress gateway deployment, create an equivalent EgressGateway resource with the same namespace and the same name as mentioned above; the operator will then take over management of the old Deployment resource, replacing it with the upgraded version.

  • Use kubectl apply to create the egress gateway resource. Tigera Operator will read the newly created resource and wait for the other Calico Enterprise components to be upgraded. Once the other Calico Enterprise components are upgraded, Tigera Operator will upgrade the existing egress gateway deployment with the new image.

By default, upgrading egress gateways will sever any connections that are flowing through them. To minimise impact, the egress gateway feature supports some advanced options that give feedback to affected pods. For more details see the egress gateway maintenance guide.

Additional resources

Please see also: